Joan Crawford: From Kansas City Girl to Hollywood Legend

It's been a generation and a half since the last big gasp of Joan Crawford hysteria. That would be the 1981 release of the Faye Dunaway juggernaut Mommie Dearest, the bio-pic centering on Crawford's troubled relationship with her adoptive children (and from which Joan's famous tirade about wire hangers was born). Still, Crawford's star seems not to have faded much for the last two decades, cable TV networks such as Turner Classic Movies, A&E and AMC have all paid homage to her via documentaries, biographies and "Star of the Month"-type tributes.
Nonetheless, with Crawford playing such a large role in this issue of Camp, we thought that a brief run-through of her life and times might be appropriate, and even educational to those just discovering the screen legend.
She was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1905 or so (records vary) as Lucille LeSueur. Crawford's mother relocated her and her brother Hal to Kansas City, Mo., in 1916 after two failed marriages. Here, Crawford was enrolled in the Catholic boarding school St. Agnes Academy, where she cleaned and cooked in lieu of tuition. Later, a similar situation prevailed at another boarding school, where Crawford was forced to endure humiliating treatment and a haphazard education.
She then briefly attended Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., before dropping out and returning to Kansas City, deciding that college life was not for her. As a young adult, Crawford set about auditioning as a dancer and chorus girl. She managed to gain a series of chorus jobs in traveling shows, working in Detroit, Oklahoma City and Chicago before being forced to return to Kansas City and more menial jobs.
Eventually, she caught the eye of a producer who invited her to New York, where she lived and worked for a time before gaining a Hollywood screen test with newly formed MGM Studios. And though not wildly successful, the screen test was enough to gain her a trip to Hollywood, for which she departed Kansas City the week after Christmas 1924.
Once in California, Crawford set about studying her craft and lobbying for bigger and better parts than the bit roles she had been offered. She eventually landed a starring role in the 1928 silent film Our Dancing Daughters, the movie that is generally credited with making her a star.
From there, stardom and super-stardom were helped along by the fact that, at the onset of the "talkie" era, Joan truly gave good voice to her roles, in contrast to many silent stars of the day. Roles alongside many of Hollywood's great leading men followed, most notably Clark Gable (Dancing Lady (1933), Chained and Forsaking All Others (both 1934), and Love on the Run (1936).
Also notable during this period was the all-star vehicle Grand Hotel (Crawford with Greta Garbo and the Barrymore brothers), which proved that the fresh new starlet could hold her own among some industry "biggies." The late 1930s brought MGM's movie version of the Broadway play The Women, which is one of Crawford's most revered films. Her portrayal of hard-bitten, husband-stealing shopgirl Crystal Allen is priceless.
But eventually, her relationship with MGM soured after a string of box-office disappointments, and she moved to Warner Brothers, where she signed for a much lower salary. In 1945, her time at the new studio finally bore fruit, and landed her a coveted Oscar for her infamous title role in the movie Mildred Pierce, the story of a hard-working waitress who scratches her way up to become restaurant owner.
Highlights from the era include 1946's riveting Humoresque{/I>, alongside a young John Garfield (for which she received her second Oscar nomination)

WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less