Thursday, October 11, 2012

Joan Crawford TV Appearances (1950's-1970's)

Good afternoon!

I was trolling Youtube for interview snippets with Joan Crawford and two things occurred to me-- one, I live in a blessed age where I can pull up an interview JC did planeside at some Pepsi Cola event in Africa in 1955 whenever the mood suits me, and this is really a great thing for the nitty little celebro-phile like me; two, isn't it interesting to think about the clothes that celebrities chose for themselves to wear in personal and public appearances in the age *before* the celebrity stylist? I'm sure Joan Crawford had lots of guidance from personal style friends like MGM costume designer Adrian and interior decorator William Haines, but a lot of these clothing choices probably came from making bad decisions in her youth and refining those choices, over years of being a celebrity, into "what Joan Crawford should look like". I remember reading in one of the millions of biographies out there that JC always bought an extra bolt of matching fabric with her dresses to have shoes made to match, and this seemed to fifteen year old me to be the very HEIGHT of chic. I know matchy-matchy is frowned upon nowadays, but really! Exact patterned shoes in the exact pattern of your patterened dress? Sounds like heaven to me.

What you can find out there on the web is kind of hit and miss, with regard to interview segments and my idol, but it's definitely worth checking out. Here are some of my favorite clips, for better or worse:

1) BBC, 1966:

This is from an interview by the BBC in 1966...I love that they would just do lengthy interviews of celebrities, up close, without all the bother of the daytime talkshow or game show format that ruins a lot of classical Hollywood tv appearances for me. I'm always surprised, given her spitfire, cute, "modern girl" persona of the thirties', and her strong, dramatic (sometimes to the point of histrionics) "women's picture" roles in the forties' and fifties', to see a soft spoken, extremely careful-with-her-diction Joan Crawford politely answering the interviewer's questions with those still-flashing eyes, almost as if she were on a quiz show ("Did I get it right?"). Let's look at her overall appearance though--  her hair is atypically blonde, eyebrows classic late Crawford thick, but not quite crazy (sometimes, I just have to throw my hands up at her eyebrow pencil choices)...she has on a full sequined black beaded jacket and a glittering necklace and earring set. I! Would! Wear! This! Right! Now! I have such a problem with vintage evening wear sequins, especially in just screams "movie star" to me. 

British people lo-o-o-ve Joan, apparently (who doesn't), and David Frost is the kind of British Dick Cavett for his sixties' interview. It's difficult to get through, and not just for the pink brocade full length dress, matching turban, and collar of costume jewels (I secretly love this Joan as matronly Malibu Barbie look). Poor JC is not nonsensically drunk, but that kind of drunk you get when you're drunk enough to have lost the inhibition to call someone you probably shouldn't call, but upon reaching them, somehow want to convince them that you haven't been drinking. OH, the times I have been in those sad little shoes (and probably will be again!). It's very " know....David...what I have thought about...what you're terms...again, in terms of...what is truth...". If you took a verbal flour sifter and put this full-length interview through it, there would be very little usable grains of knowledge amongst the chaff (and by "chaff", I mean vodka-fueled tangents that don't lead anywhere). Does she talk about the size of Gable's penis? I think she does (she keeps getting bleeped out! I told you! She's blotto!), but she also talks about a scene where he had to slap her and said he got so upset about having to "really do it" for the camera that his hands were shaking before hand and he actually apologized after. One thing I would really love to know all about, and probably never will, is the working and personal relationship of Crawford and Gable, who were romantically involved during a lot of the movies they made together, and off and on for almost twenty years. The only thing better than Lombard and Gable would be Lombard and Gable not tragically cut short, and the only thing better than  Lombard and Gable not tragically cut short would be Crawford and Gable. What a husband, compared to some of her clunkers! But I digress. There's a weeeeeird segment talking about the artistic ranch the director of the episode of The Virginian tv show (not exactly Citizen Kane, but you'd think so from the way he describes it), but still, overall, worth watching to

3) "What's My Line" (various)

Well, I was all excited to show you this ONE appearance Joan Crawford did on the classic television game show, "What's My Line"...whereafter I consulted the indispensible Joan Crawford online resource The Best of Everything and found out she's been on the show no less than FIVE TIMES between 1957 and 1963. If I were Dorothy Kilgallen or Bennett Cerf and I couldn't figure out who the person was, I think I'd just automatically guess "Joan Crawford". She goes back and forth throughout her appearances between a shy, Southern drawl for a disguise, or a weird high pitched voice, or in one case, an Italian accent. Let it never be said that I don't L-O-V-E the premise of this show (trying to disguise a famous person's identity to blindfolded panelist through wacky voices). Also, the clothes in these segments ARE OUTRAGEOUS. LY COOL. The dress above, for example, looks like a regular fancy cocktail dress. I was thinking that when she got up from the podium to thank the panelists I would be seeing a nipped waist, frouffed out skirt. But no ma'am! Joan keeps it regent with a floor length ballgown. Atta girl. Look at her other choices (and if you think her hair was weird in that picture above, these are weirder):

The dress with the pearls down the back, which culminate in a cluster of pearls and jewels at the front, in the lighter colored panels may be my favorite dress ever. Add ballroom length gloves and a huge bracelet and earrings, and again, you have star power. The last panel shows her with her twins, Cathy and Cindy (alias, the kids that DIDN'T support Mommie Dearest's publication, and maintain their mother's innocence to the claims in that and subsequent books). Also, this. Just this:

What do you think of JC's over the top star style? Is it too desperate or just fabulous enough for someone of her celebrity? Which interview/appearance do you like the most? Which wig should I choose for my own Hollywood hairstyle?

Sorry this is so late! I'll see you guys bright and early tomorrow.


  1. I think she looks awesome! I like that she took the stereotypical look (be it shoulder pads, bouffants, eyebrows) of every decade and exaggerated it even further! I think Christina Crawford has to be the biggest crybaby in the me a parent who wouldn't respond negatively to her teenage daughter literally rolling in the hay!!! Also, WML? is my favorite show ever. When asked who my guests would be at my imaginary celebrity dinner party, my answer is always the panelists - especially Arlene Francis...with the eye patch!!!

    1. I love how *genuinely* tickled the guests and the panelists get on the show. You know how lots of celebrity appearances back then would be so-o-o-o scripted, and WML is just off the cuff and funny. You never know what the mystery guest is going to do (or the panelists, for that matter). Arlene Francis! And her eyepatch! I hope I can swing an imaginary invite to that imaginary celebrity dinner party, it would be a ball!

  2. i loooooooooove what's my line! travis' parents watch it all the time and i ask to see them when we go over there (they have them on old vhs tapes they taped from reruns or something).

    1. They used to come on GSN at like 1 in the morning and I would watch them when I couldn't sleep in college... now you can find tons of them on Youtube. Which is great! I can watch 'em on demand!

  3. Did you know the twins WEREN'T twins? Joanie just twinned them as she pleased. Ernest Hemingway's mom did the same thing with Ernest and his sister. She dressed ole Ernest the Manly Man as a little girl and even kept him back a year so they could attend the same grade in school.
    I have a great book (falling apart) about Joan. She drank 100 proof vodka, Smirnoff. She kept in in a little flask and nipped along all day. She decided to stop and...just did.
    What a gal. Now that you have the Joan coat, and you have the example of Joanie's hairdo to follow, and I seeeem to remember a sequined dress you have. What about my idea for Halloween? You could carry around a bottle and make cryptic remarks about Clark Gable's bad breath! I'll stop now.

    1. Mrs. Leapheart, you are a genius! I think I might follow in your Crawford footsteps for Halloween! Sequin dress, coat, hair did, eyebrows up to the sky, and all the costume jewelry I own. And a flask of vodka. Maybe I could make some kind of purse out of wire hangers... (even though it's mean, it would probably help people figure out who I was)....EXCITING.

  4. Yeah, ankle strap platform shoes, or a reasonable facsimile. I am telling you, dress Bab as Baby Jane.
    Tra La...I written a letter to Daddy, I've addressed it Heaven Above...and so on. A big ratty baby doll for him to carry.
    Or you can carry a bottle of Pepsi, and shout "Don't F%#ck with me, Fellas!" all night long.
    I am so excited.

    1. Oh, it's happening. Ankle strap platforms, Pepsi Cola...we're so doing this. Leather snap purse the size of small briefcase. I need to choose a good hat! Or should I do my hair a la Mildred? Bab is so long suffering and kind to my whims that I hate to add "made me dress in drag as haggardly made up Bette Davis dressed as a turn-of-the-century child star" to his possible list of grievances...or do I?

  5. One must suffer for one's art. He'll be the perfect accessory. Or you could dress him as that whiny brat Christina and whale the tar out of him with a hanger periodically.
    Oh that movie moment where Faye Dunaway yells, No wooden hangers!!! Her face looks just like one of those Japanese Noh masks. Camp!



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