The Best of Everything

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by Paul Weeks

Originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times, May 9, 1963


The half-hour funeral service was simple. Nine persons were there to mourn. And it wasn’t until 24 hours later that the anonymity was lifted in which Hal Hayes LeSueur died.

He was the brother of actress Joan Crawford – his life and career overshadowed in death as it had been in life.

LeSueur, 59, an Alvarado St. motel clerk, died at 1:30 a.m. Friday of a ruptured appendix in General Hospital. He was buried Tuesday in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale.

A chauffer-driven car went to the Parkway Motel at 1212 S. Alvarado St. to pick up his clothing and effects.

In the eight days he lay in the hospital, two persons came to see him – his aunt, Mrs. Betty Kutchey, 5226 Hollywood Blvd., and a woman who identified herself as Jean Rogers, his sister-in-law – but he had no sister-in-law.

“She was just a friend,” said Mrs. Kutchey.

Miss Crawford, who had sent her brother telegrams in the hospital, was notified a few hours after his death Friday, the aunt said.

Miss Crawford was in New York City on Monday night attending Time magazine’s celebrity party and did not get there for the funeral.

In 1954, LeSueur told an interviewer: “For personal reasons I must refrain from saying why I never see my sister. I don’t feel it’s the proper time to talk.”

“We knew he was Miss Crawford’s brother but he never said much about it,” said Mrs. LaVerne Lock, wife of the manager of the Royal Viking Hotel, 220 S. Alvarado St., where he’d worked a year and a half as a night desk clerk.  He kept to himself, dressed well, talked quietly, was a fine man …”

She said he lived from paycheck to paycheck, “like a lot of us.” A representative of Miss Crawford said the brother had drawn support from her for the last 32 years.

LeSueur, a dashing bit-player actor himself in the 30s, augmented his clerk’s pay as a switchboard operator at the Parkway, where he lived.

Born five years before his sister in San Antonio, Tex., he was the son of Thomas and Anna Bell LeSueur, who were divorced just a few weeks after the birth of Lucille – who changed her name to Joan Crawford.

“Hal really didn’t like acting, so he gave it up after the 30s and did make-up for awhile at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer,” said his aunt.

Later, he was a sporting goods salesman before going into motel work.

LeSueur was married and divorced twice, first to Jessie LeSueur, who divorced him in 1931 and has since died, then to Kasha LeSueur, once  a stand-in for Miss Crawford, who divorced him in 1934.

The second wife was given custody of their year-old daughter, Joan Crawford LeSueur, who would be 30 today, and given $10 a week child support.

“I’ve tried many times to find her, but I don’t know where she is,” said the aunt, Mrs. Kutchey.

She was once a dancer on Broadway.

Today, LeSueur lay almost – but not quite – forgotten in a casket at the Little Church of the Flowers.

The cards on the floral sprays showed they were from his motel employers and from a friend, Jack Barnett, as well as two plants sent by the aunt.

And one lonely remembrance signed, “Jean Rogers.”

[Thanks to Norman for this article.]


The Best of Everything