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A Joan Crawford Chronology
1900s/1910s (on this page, below) • 1920s • 1930s • 1940s • 1950s • 1960s • 1970s to present
NOTE: The years listed for events from Joan's birth up until her enrollment at Stephens College in the Fall of 1922 can be inexact due to varying accounts by the print biographies and other sources I've consulted. When sources disagree, I've made reasonable guesses re which date is correct based on available information. (See the About page for a listing of biographies used as sources for this page and this site as a whole.)
Release dates for movies and TV appearances that appear here are from the IMDb. Also: When I've found a year for an event, but no specific info re the month or date, I've usually included the event in brackets at the beginning of the listing for that year.
1905 or 1906
March 23. Lucille Fay LeSueur is born to Thomas LeSueur and Anna Bell Johnson in San Antonio, Texas. Thomas LeSueur leaves the family shortly after her birth.
[NOTE: The often-cited "1904" birth year seems impossible since Joan's older brother Hal Hayes LeSueur was born September 3, 1903, according to both school records and his later movie studio records. Baby Lucille---unless born prematurely, which no source mentions--- physically couldn't have made her debut only 6 months later.]
According to census records, Henry J. Cassin and Anna Bell Johnson marry this year.
April 20. Lawton census records show a "Casson" family: Henry J. Cassin, wife Anna, son Hal, daughter Lucille (age 5).
[NOTE: If Lucille is indeed 5, this would make her birth year 1905, not 1906. However, I still give credence to the 1906 birth year, since this is the date she gave when enrolling at Stephens College in 1922; there would have been no reason to lie to make herself seem younger when trying to get into college.]
June. For three days Henry Cassin features a Pavlova-style dancer at his "Opera House" in Lawton. The "Gypsy Fantasy" dance particularly enthralls young Billie, as Lucille is now known, as does the chance to visit the performer backstage. The dancer gives Billie a pair of used toe shoes.
June. Billie and brother Hal put on a show in a local barn for the neighbors. Hal and friends do a trapeze act and Billie, wearing her toe shoes, does a 10-minute act, performing a bit from the ballet "Giselle" and a gypsy dance to the tune "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie." The kids repeat the show a few days later.
July. Billie, leaping off her front porch to escape piano lessons and follow playmates, cuts her foot deeply on a broken milk bottle. Neighbor boy Don Blanding, the future poet, carries her into the house and phones the doctor. Billie eventually has three operations on her foot and is unable to attend elementary school classes for the year-and-a-half following her injury.
[NOTE: Many biographers say this incident happened either the year of or the year before the discovery of money in the family cellar (see "1915" entry below). However, reliable records on Don Blanding, the neighbor who rescued Billie, say that he was a senior in high school in 1912 and left home after that summer. If he did any rescuing it was that year, or earlier.]
October. Billie, at home by herself, discovers money that Henry Cassin has hidden away in their cellar.
November. The town sheriff and deputy arrive at the Cassin home to question part-time bondsman Cassin about missing bail money.
December. Billie and brother Hal are sent by train to Anna Bell's parents' home near Phoenix, Arizona, for the holidays. During the trip, Hal tells Billie that Henry Cassin is not their real father and shows her a picture of Thomas LeSueur.
[Once in Kansas City, Billie is initially enrolled in the 3rd grade at Scarritt Elementary.]
January. The Cassin family leaves Lawton for Kansas City, Missouri. They arrive at Kansas City's Union Station and check in to the New Midland Hotel in a seedy part of town. Cassin and Anna Bell eventually take over the running of the hotel.
September. Henry Cassin enrolls Billie at the St. Agnes Academy, a Catholic girls' school. When he leaves the family soon afterwards, Billie must work for her keep there. For the next 3 years (4th through 6th grades), she lives at the school and returns home on weekends.
May. Billie performs in a dance recital for St. Agnes. Her mother attends and introduces her to her new companion, Harry Hough.
Fall. Anna Bell begins to run the City Gate Laundry, located across the street from her former New Midland Hotel residence.
Spring. Anna Bell tells the children that Hough has proposed and that they're moving to his Genessee Street home. (Joan later said she never knew if the two had actually married.)
Late Summer. Billie runs in to Henry Cassin by accident in downtown Kansas City and they have an ice-cream together. She never sees him again. (While it's been reported in various Joan bios that Cassin dies this year, in fact he died 10/25/22 in Nashville, Tennessee, and was buried in Lawton, Oklahoma, on 10/31/22. See the Henry Cassin Encyclopedia entry to read the death notice in the Lawton paper.)
Fall. Billie enters the Rockingham Academy, a boarding school for "difficult" children that Hough has suggested.
1900s/1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s on