Sandy’s list of Joan Crawford related books
Here is Sandy’s list of Joan Crawford related books. He has really come up a comprehensive list of books that would be of interest to Crawford fans. A great site to check for rare and out of print books is Bookfinder . Happy hunting! And thanks for this great information Sandy!
“A Portrait of Joan” by Joan Crawford. Joan’s first autobiography. Particularly good on cast listings for Crawford films, also has more info than most about her silent
career. However, there are many things she chooses not to talk about and she was not under oath or anything, so read this with a grain of salt! Doubleday, 1962.
“My Way Of Life” by Joan Crawford. Joan’s second autobiography. This book is really a book about how Joan felt women should live, complete with how-to’s on makeup, hair, clothes, entertaining, and romance. Lots of great pictures of Joan when she was older, and of the penthouse she shared with Alfred Steele. Pocket Books paperback, 1971.
“Joan Crawford- a Biography” by Bob Thomas. Thomas is a Hollywood writer who
has been around forever, and he knew Crawford personally, so there is a lot of great info here. He does tend to gloss over anything unpleasant, though, so be careful. Simon and Schuster, 1978.
“Crawford’s Men” by Jane Ellen Wayne. Be VERY skeptical when reading this
book. Most of the book consists of conversations that Wayne made up after doing research into Joan’s life. There is no way this book could be completely accurate unless Joan was wired for sound at birth. It tends to focus on Joan’s friendship with Billy Haines- Haines was probably Wayne’s source for much of the material covering Joan’s early days at M-G-M. Wayne does offer one tantalizing bit- she says that Joan may have had a “hidden” first marriage to a musician named James Weldon. Prentice Hall Press, 1988.
“Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud” by Shaun Considine. If you believe that Bette and Joan had a feud, you will love this book. There are a lot of small errors in it, which makes me wonder about some of the bigger “facts”, but it’s kind of fun to read. People who enjoyed watching Krystle and Alexis duke it out on “Dynasty” will have a ball reading this. Dell paperback, 1989.
“Mommie Dearest” by Christina Crawford. Whether you want to believe Christina
or not, the book does offer a look at Crawford’s day-to-day life in the 1940’s. The photo sections show a lot of Joan’s Brentwood house as it looked in those days. William Morrow, 1978.
“Survivor” by Christina Crawford. This book is mostly about Christina herself, but there is a small amount of info about Christina’s reunion with Phillip Terry in the early 1990’s. Jove paperback, 1988.
“Conversations with Joan Crawford” by Roy Newquist. This is a must-read book
if you want to know more about Joan. The book is taken from a series of
interviews that Newquist did with Joan for “Ladies’ Home Journal”. Joan died before the interviews could be censored and printed, so the magazine never used them. Instead, Newquist printed them in their complete form- so these interviews show Joan being as frank as she ever got. One bonus- Joan gives her own opinion of EVERY movie she ever made up to “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” Still, you have to remember that Joan was not under oath here- she does fib on a couple of things. Berkley paperback, 1981.
“Joan Crawford: The Last Word” by Fred Lawrence Guiles. It’s really not the last word (Karen Swenson is writing a new book on Crawford to be published this year), but this book is far better researched than most. It offers a bit of info on her arrest in Detroit on a morals charge (solicitation) before she went into movies. It also has some info from Betty Barker (Joan’s long-time secretary) on the Joan-Christina feud- “oh, Joan was willful, and Christina was willful, and they just clashed”. Birch Lane Press, 1995.
‘Four Fabulous Faces” by Larry Carr. This is a huge coffee-table book that is nothing but photos of Joan, Gloria Swanson, Marlene Dietrich, and Greta Garbo. Very hard to find and very expensive when you do. HUNDREDS of pictures of Joan, including the one I think is the single best ever taken of her. It’s by George Platt Lynes, and it’s on page 469 of the book. That hair- that mink! Galahad Books, 1970.
“The Films of Joan Crawford” by Lawrence J. Quirk. Offers info on nearly every one of
Joan’s movies, with stills from each film and reprints of the original reviews from when the movie premiered. Good solid book. Cadillac Publishing Company, 1968 (there are also reprints).
“People Will Talk” by John Kobal. Lots of interviews with classic Hollywood stars, including one with Crawford. Also, there’s a very thorough interview with the great George Hurrell, who was perhaps the best of the many still photographers who worked with Joan. Knopf, 1985.
“Gods & Goddesses of the Movies” by John Kobal. There is a section on Crawford, as well as nearly every other classic star you can name. However, there is no info here on Joan that you can’t get elsewhere. Nice photos. Crescent Books, 1978.
“Hollywood Goddesses”. This anthology of articles about various classic stars
has a very good (if short) one about Joan titled “Joan Crawford: Self-Made Star”,
by John Russell Taylor. The accompanying photos are from the Kobal Collection;
a few of them are pictures not often seen elsewhere. Forum House, 1982.
“Inside Warner Bros. (1935-1951)”, edited by Rudy Behlmer. This book is a must
for the serious student of Classic Era Hollywood movies. It consists of in-house Warner Bros. memoranda that were written during the making of many Warner classics, including “Casablanca”. Joan’s “Mildred Pierce” is covered in great detail; there are also memos that concern production details on “Humoresque”, Possessed” (1947 version), and “Flamingo Road”. One caveat: the information in this book is about the making of some of Crawford’s movies, not about Crawford herself. Viking, 1985.
“Clown Prince of Hollywood” by Bob Thomas. This bio of Warner Bros. studio head Jack L. Warner contains a small amount of info about Crawford’s time at the Warner studio. McGraw-Hill, 1990.
“Lulu in Hollywood” by Louise Brooks. The most legendary silent star of them all writes about many things, including her own opinion of how Garbo, Lillian Gish, and Crawford were eased out of M-G-M. Knopf, 1982.
“Thalberg” by Bob Thomas. Irving Thalberg was second only to Louis B. Mayer at
M-G-M; this book is a fascinating look at the studio from 1924-1937. There are a number of references to Crawford; the book is also strong on photos from M-G-M
silents. Doubleday, 1969.
“Thalberg: The Last Tycoon and the World of M-G-M” by Roland Flamini. This book covers much the same territory as Bob Thomas’ book, with the benefit of more exhaustive research. There are a number of references to Crawford. Crown
“Norma Shearer” by Gavin Lambert. Obviously, this one is not about Joan, but there
are some insights into the feud between Joan and Norma. Knopf, 1990.
“Norma: The Story of Norma Shearer” by Lawrence J. Quirk. A few tidbits on the
Crawford-Shearer feud. St. Martin’s Press, 1988.
“The Golden Era: The M-G-M Stock Company” by James Robert Parish and Ronald
L. Bowers. Articles on most of the stars M-G-M had under contract in the Classic
Era; the one on Crawford is remarkably frank and comprehensive, considering it’s
only a few pages. The small selection of stills is also good- they’re not the same old
photos you see everywhere. Bonanza, 1972.
“Warner Brothers Presents” by Ted Sennett. Great info on classic Warner’s movies,
including some of Joan’s. EVERY Warner’s film released between 1930 and 1949
is listed in the filmography with cast, credits, plot, and an excerpt from a review that was written at the time the film was released. Castle Books, 1971.
“George Cukor: A Double Life” by Patrick McGilligan. Joan’s favorite director had
a very interesting life, although he was not as complimentary about Joan’s talent as
she was about his. Harper Perennial paperback, 1992.
“King Cohn” by Bob Thomas. After Crawford’s stints at M-G-M and Warner Bros., she worked for Columbia Pictures for a few years. This biography of Columbia
studio head Harry Cohn has a few references to Joan; it’s a tougher book than most
of Thomas’ work. Bantam paperback, 1967.
“The Glamour Factory: Inside Hollywood’s Big Studio System” by Ronald L. Davis.
An incredibly detailed look at what it was like to work in the major studios in the
Classic Era, based on interviews with people who worked at every level of the studio
system. Stars get to talk, and so do wardrobe women, makeup men, carpenters, and executives- it’s a unique look at a place and time that are gone forever. Crawford was not interviewed, but she’s mentioned many times. Southern Methodist University Press, 1993.
“June Allyson” by June Allyson with Frances Spatz Leighton. Mostly about Allyson, of course, but there is an account of a visit she made to Joan’s house. It was not a good encounter for Allyson, but it’s an interesting picture of a newcomer’s reaction to meeting an established star. Putnam, 1982.
“The Ragman’s Son” by Kirk Douglas. There’s a small reference to a brief affair Douglas says he had with Joan. Pocket Books paperback, 1988.
“Long Live the King” by Lyn Tornabene. This exhaustive biography of Clark Gable has quite a bit of information about Crawford’s relationship with the star. Pocket Books paperback, 1976.
“Merchant of Dreams: Louis B. Mayer, M-G-M, and the Secret Hollywood” by Charles Higham. I don’t know where Higham gets some of his information, but there is solid stuff on Joan in this book. Dell paperback, 1993.
“Hollywood East: Louis B. Mayer and the Origins of the Studio System” by Diana
Altman. The title is somewhat misleading: this book is largely about the New York headquarters of Loew’s, Inc., then owner of M-G-M. The author’s father was Al Altman, M-G-M’s New York talent scout. Al Altman participated in the discovery of many stars, among them Ava Gardner and Franchot Tone- but his first and biggest was Joan. The book offers a fascinating look at the relationship between M-G-M, its stars, and the company that owned both. A very rare picture of Joan is included. Birch Lane Press, 1992.
“Hollywood Babylon II”, by Kenneth Anger. This book will delight or disgust you; your reaction will say a lot about you as a person. The part of this book you’re interested in is titled “Witch Joan”; and it includes soft-porn stills that are supposed to be the ones Joan is said to have done before becoming a star. I’ll confine myself to saying that there is a resemblance to Joan in a couple of pictures- but there are a couple that don’t look like Crawford at all. There is a topless picture of Joan that is definitely her- it was taken at M-G-M in the 1920’s. NAL Plume paperback, 1984.
“MGM: When the Lion Roars” by Peter Hay. A comprehensive look at Joan’s alma mater; it has sections on every department of the studio’s operations, many famous Metro films, and Joan herself. The number (700!) and quality of the stills in this book is breathtaking. Turner Publishing, 1991.
“The M-G-M Story”, by John Douglas Eames. This book offers details on every one of the 1,709 movies M-G-M released between 1924 and 1975. Every one of Crawford’s movies for the studio is discussed, and a still is included for each. There’s even info for a Crawford movie that was never released- 1930’s “Great Day”. Now THAT’s comprehensive! Crown Publishers, 1976.
“David O. Selznick’s Hollywood”, by Ronald Haver. Most people don’t have a clue that the producer of “Gone With the Wind” did quite a few movies for M-G-M before he started his own studio; 1933’s “Dancing Lady” was one of his credits. The very informative section on ‘Dancing Lady” includes on-set stills, costume stills, and key art from the advertising campaign. There’s also info on the process of making and previewing the picture, along with tidbits about the retakes that were done to make the picture more satisfactory to the audience than it was originally. Great book! Knopf, 1980.