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A Joan Crawford Chronology: 1940s


1940    1941    1942    1943    1944    1945    1946    1947    1948    1949



My note: Many thanks to Thorsten for sending in info for @20 of the entries from January 1940 to January 1941, from G. D. Hamann's blog.



January 21. Back in LA from New York City, Joan receives a check from a NYC laundry whose employees had stolen some of her clothes. The note with the check explained that ordinarily any person keeping a customer's clothes would be instantly dismissed. But, in this case, it was felt, there might be extenuating circumstances. Joan returns the check and suggests donating it to a charity.

January 24. Louella Parsons reports that Joan is convalescing after a flu attack.

Early February. Joan attends a "Tailwagger Guide Dog Institute" fundraising fashion show at Ciro's.

February 6. MGM files show that Joan was ill and "unable to make a test" for director Cukor during pre-production of Susan and God.

February 10. Joan phones MGM after noting that Clark Gable's name has been placed before hers in the title credits for their film Strange Cargo. After numerous memos between execs and from her agent, the studio backs down and Joan's name appears first when the film is released the next month. Also this day, Susan and God officially begins production (though filming doesn't start 'til March).

February 12. Joan ill and "unable to rehearse" for Susan and God.

February 13. Joan is maid of honor at the wedding of photographer Hyman Fink and Miss Billy Carey.

March 2. Joan appears on radio play "Baby" on station KFI at 9pm.

First week of March. Susan and God starts filming.

March 8 - 9. MGM files show that Joan "looked ill and...we had to shoot around her" during filming of Susan and God.

March 13. Strange Cargo opens in LA at Loew's State and Grauman's Chinese.

March 18. Joan has severe cold and is unable to work during filming of Susan and God.

April 3 - 4. Joan unable to work on Susan and God because she is "depressed and ill."

May 24. The Chicago Tribune announces:

Joan Crawford became a foster mother today.

The screen star adopted a blue eyed, flaxen-haired two-month-old girl and named her Christina.

Miss Crawford’s business representatives said she obtained the baby from an eastern institution and had just completed legal details.

She recently obtained a divorce from Franchot Tone, stage and screen actor, now appearing on Broadway.

(Other biographical sources say that Joan adopted the child in Las Vegas and that Christina had lived with her for the past 11 months.) This month, the two travel to Miami, Florida, for reasons unknown.

May 31. MGM studio press preview for Susan and God.

June 5. Susan and God opens in LA at Loew's State and Grauman's Chinese. Joan misses preview because she's in NYC attending to legal matters re Christina's adoption.

June 7. Susan and God general release.

June 11. Joan celebrates baby Christina's first birthday in New York City. She then takes the child to visit Helen Hayes and family in Nyack, NY.

July 3. Joan wires LA Daily News that she won't be back in LA until September 1 due to her war work and search for a Broadway play in NYC. (She ultimately doesn't return until late December.) It's reported that her upcoming MGM schedule lists Night in Bombay and A Woman's Face for her next appearances.

September 15. Joan's term as 2nd Vice President of the Screen Actors Guild is up.

September 23. Joan's brother Hal LeSueur assigned to appear in Robert Taylor's Flight Command.

September 26. Joan a nominee for "Glamor Legs No. 1," a vote by the Screen Dancers Guild. She loses to Betty Grable.

October 1 and 3. The LA Evening Herald-Express reports that Joan has been doing Red Cross benefits and reading 125 plays in NYC.

October 3. Joan granted leave of absence from MGM, to end "not later than 11 December or earlier than 31 October."

October 7. The LA press report that the screenplay for A Woman's Face, Joan's new vehicle, is complete.

October 25. The LA Examiner reports that Joan will serve on the Hollywood committee sponsoring this year's opera season.

October 28. Joan buys 17 outfits from NY designer Joe Copeland.

December 5. Hollywood Citizen News reports that Joan, still in NYC, is preparing for A Woman's Face, with her following film to be The Gilded Lady.



January 13. Hollywood Citizen News reports that Joan has started singing lessons again (after a hiatus while in NY) and that her next film after Face may be a musical.

January 16. Hollywood Citizen News reports that MGM has 3 films lined up for Joan: A Woman's Face, Bombay Nights, and one unidentified.

January 23. A Woman's Face begins production.

January 27. Hollywood Citizen News reports that "Joan Crawford's boyfriend is in town quietly visiting her." No word on who said friend is.

March 29. A Woman's Face ends production.

May 15. A Woman's Face released.

June 3. Marcus Gary Kullberg born. Joan adopts him 10 days later, renaming him "Christopher Crawford."

June 11. Joan celebrates Christina's second birthday with 15 child-guests, a merry-go-round, and a scary clown.

June 13. Joan picks up her new son at baby broker Alice Hough's house.

June 23. When Ladies Meet begins production.

July. The New York Times reports that Joan is the chairwoman of a drive to raise money to buy cots for 5000 children in London air-raid stations.

August 11. When Ladies Meet ends production.

August 29. When Ladies Meet released.

November. After threats from the mother, Joan and broker Alice Hough return baby Kullberg to his mother's house. (After a year of abuse, he is given up for adoption a second time by his mother in November 1942.)



February. They All Kissed the Bride begins production.

March. Joan sends Clark Gable a note saying she's there for him if he needs her. (He's been despondent since his wife Carole Lombard's death 2 months earlier.) Over the next few weeks, the two frequently spend time together.

June. Reunion in France begins production.

June 11. They All Kissed the Bride released. Joan celebrates Christina's third birthday with 20 invited child-guests, the merry-go-round, the clown, a puppet show, and a trained pig.

July 21. Joan marries actor Phillip Terry after a 6-week courtship. The marriage is performed at the home of her attorney, Neil McCarthy, in Hidden Hills, California.

September. Reunion in France ends production.

December. Reunion in France released.



[At various times this year, Joan hosts Sunday-afternoon picnics at her home for servicemen.]

February. Joan announces her founding of a group called American Women's Volunteer Services, whose goal is to take care of children in Los Angeles whose mothers worked in defense factories.

April. Joan is voted chairman of the War Dog Fund, whose goal is to raise money to train dogs for the armed forces.

April 2. MGM grants Joan six months off, during which time she can officially consider other offers.

April 6. In the LA Times, Hedda Hopper announces in her column:

Joan Crawford has just added a 10-month-old son to her household. Named him for her husband, Phil Terry Jr.  Any time now we can look for Joan and Phil to have one of their own. I’ve never known it to fail.

April 7.  Hedda Hopper writes in her LA Times column:

Joan Crawford is out of “The Waacs” story Anita Loos wrote, nor will Joan be in “Cry Havoc.” She did “Reunion” and “When Ladies Meet” against her better judgment and nothing else is in sight for her. My advice would be to get a good picture off the lot. Look what it did for Roz Russell.

May 13. Hopper writes in her LA Times column:

Joan Crawford has a six-month leave of absence to do a play in New York but can’t get accommodations because she won’t travel without her entire family. That means husband, children, nurses, etc. 

June 11. Joan celebrates Christina's fourth birthday with a miniature circus, complete with clowns, ponies, a magician, an organ-grinder plus monkey, etc.

June 29. By mutual consent, Joan's contract with MGM is terminated. In lieu of one more picture owed under her contract, she pays the studio $100, 000. On that day, she drives herself to the studio and personally cleans out her dressing room.

July 1. Joan is put on the Warner Bros. payroll, with a deal of $500, 000 for three pictures. The NYTimes reports:

Joan Crawford today signed a six years' optional contract with Warners. Her first assignment is in the starring role of a film to be based on the Maritta Wolff novel, "Night Shift," which previously slated for Ann Sheridan, and postponed several times, has since undergone script revision.

With fourteen months to go on her Metro contract Miss Crawford recently obtained a leave of absence to do one picture, but this week, through her manager M. C. Levee, the deal with Metro where she has been employed for eighteen years, was abrogated. The studio made a cash settlement for the balance of the pact.

[Thanks to Norman for the article.]

August 6. Above Suspicion released. It's her last contract film for MGM.



June 27. The NY Times announces that Joan will star in Mildred Pierce.

October 13. Michael Curtiz is announced as the director for Mildred Pierce. (Belying the claims that Joan had to audition for him.)

December 7. Mildred Pierce begins production.

December 15. Hollywood Canteen released.

December 20. After reading in the papers about Joan's newly adopted son, the mother of Joan's first adopted son (in 1941) shows up at Joan's Brentwood home and forces her way in, demanding to see whom she incorrectly believes to be her son. The woman is arrested, sent to a psych ward, and later released, only to be rearrested the following January. (See the "Rebecca Kullberg" entry to read the LA Times article.)



May. Mildred Pierce ends production.

September 24. Mildred Pierce released.

November 4. From the LA Times:

Actress Joan Crawford yesterday reported to the police the theft of a 14-karat gold vanity case valued at $700 from her home in Brentwood Heights. The actress filed the report under her married name of Mrs. Phillip Terry. [Thanks to Norman for the article.]

December. Joan and Phillip Terry separate. (Thief!) :)



March 7. Joan wins the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Mildred Pierce. Beset by nerves, she stays home from the ceremony; reporters later converge on her house and snap pictures of her in bed with Oscar.

Mid-March. The week after Joan wins the Oscar, Hollywood attorney Greg Bautzer begins a campaign to woo her. Some time that spring, he follows her to the La Quinta Hotel in Palm Springs, where they "get together" for the first time.

April 25. Joan and Phillip Terry divorce. (Soon afterwards, Joan has adopted son Phillip's name changed to "Christopher.")

May. Joan has brief fling with Republic cowboy star Don "Red" Barry. When he attempts to finance the play "Anna Lucasta" using Joan's name as collateral, she dumps him.

June 15. Joan and other Warners personnel view a local mental patient's treatment as research for Possessed.

December. A mental patient sues Joan, Warner Bros., and her sanitarium, claiming that Joan and other Warners employees were allowed to watch her receive shock treatments in preparation for Joan's upcoming role in Possessed. (In Feb. 1947 Joan testifies that she was not present during the treatment; the suit is later settled out of court.)

December 25. Humoresque released.



[Early in the year, between bouts with Greg Bautzer, Joan dates actor Peter Shaw.]

January 13. Twin girls are born to an unwed mother in a Dyersburg, Tennessee, hospital. The mother dies 7 days later from kidney failure. In the Summer of 1947, Joan adopts the girls, Cathy and Cynthia, from the Tennessee Children's Home Society in Memphis.

February 18. From the LA Times:

Joan Crawford, film actress, denied she had watched a mental patient undergoing shock treatments in order to obtain "atmosphere" for a screen role. Miss Crawford, who was sued for $200,000 on a charge of invasion of the right of privacy, placed her denial on record in filing an answer in Superior Court. The litigation was started by Mrs. Pauline W. McKay, who complained that last June 15 Miss Crawford and other personnel from Warner Bros. Studio viewed her treatment. [Thanks to Norman for the article.]

July 26. Possessed released.

December 25. Daisy Kenyon released.



March 19. Hedda Hopper reports in the LA Times that Joan has been suspended from Warners.

Actress Joan Crawford, winner of one Academy award and candidate for another tomorrow night, says she has been suspended by Warner Bros, but the studio denies it.


The star was not at home when I called but her secretary, Miss Theo Larsen, said Miss Crawford was suspended. Her personal representative, Henry Rogers, said yes, emphatically, the suspension was on.


Studio officials said the actress is naturally off the pay roll because she works on a picture-to-picture basis. Rogers insists, however, that the star is paid 52 weeks a year.


Two dozen phone calls later, I got a quote from Miss Crawford:


"Let them call it what they like—I'm off salary until May. Perhaps it was just a polite way of giving me a vacation."

March 24.  From the LA Times:

Settlement of a $200,000 damage suit brought against Joan Crawford by a woman mental patient who complained that her right of privacy had been violated because the film actress had been permitted to observe 'shock" treatments was disclosed yesterday in Superior Court.

The  compromise,  terms  which the attorneys refused to divulge, was made public when the suit was dismissed by Mrs. Pauline W, McKay, 34, who complained that Miss Crawford- had-been allowed to watch the/treatments to obtain "atmosphere” for her role in the film "Possessed." Defendants in the suit were Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc., and Floyd Wheeler Bishop, operator of the Pasadena Sanitarium, where the incident was said to have occurred June 15, 1945. Mrs. McKay was joined in the suit by her husband, Charles-McKay, advertising man. Mrs. McKay recently was reported missing but was found with friends in Truckee, CA. The McKays were represented by Albert Pearlson.

May 19. A fan reports to gossip columnist Hedda Hopper in a private letter that Joan's paramour Greg Bautzer has chased her car after she and relatives had stopped briefly in front of Joan's Brentwood home. Bautzer has allegedly tried to pick a fight with the car's occupants, then continued to follow them as they drive away.

May. Joan reports a $50,000 brooch missing from Slapsy Maxie's, which disappeared while she was dining with Greg Bautzer. The brooch is recovered a day later from a club employee.

July 15. The LATimes reports that Flamingo Road has been called off:

“Flamingo Road" has been called off by Michael Curtiz as producer-director for this feature for Warners. Reason given is difficulty in securing players, but reports indicate there is more to it than that.

Joan Crawford has had an allergy about that picture for one thing and, for another it is understood there have been script troubles.

Possibly this sudden change may inspire Warners to do “Miss O'Brien,” which Miss Crawford yearns to star in. She controls the story property about the schoolteacher herself and so far no deal has been made with any other studio. Also Warners could assign "Flamingo Road" to one of its own producers and directors.

December 26. The LATimes announces that Joan is set to do the film Miss O'Brien.



February 11. Hedda Hopper writes in her LA Times column:

Hollywood is now asking the $64 question: Will Clark Cable and Joan Crawford marry? My answer would be no. They've known each other for 20 years, and I don't believe Mr. Gable would welcome a ready-made family of four children. He's lonely; so is she. But they're less lonely together. Joan’s heart belongs to Greg Bautzer and always will.

Funniest shuffle I've ever seen happened at the Bill Doziers' party when Joan arrived with Clark. Arlene Dahl was sitting quietly in a corner; Bautzer was alone at the bar. Suddenly Greg rushed across the room, grabbed Arlene by the arm, sat her down on a stool at the bar beside him, and was in animated conversation with her when Joan and Clark entered the room. I had to admit his court manners were very adroit.

May 6. Flamingo Road released.

June 2. Joan stars on the Suspense radio show "The Ten Years" as "Clara."

August 1. It's a Great Feeling released.

August 10. Hedda Hopper reports in her LA Times column:

A star-laden turnout at Ciro'sfor Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis found Joan Crawford with Roy Van Borel, headman of the National Dairy Association (a real butter-and-egg man), while at another table Annie Sheridan once again with Greg Bautzer. Joan Caulfield showed up with Jean Arthur's ex-mate, Frank Ross, and Clark Gable with Marilyn Maxwell. But, of course, Paulette Goddard's out of town.

September 8. A resort owned by Joan's ex Phillip Terry, Tassajara Hot Springs, is demolished by fire.

September 12. Hedda Hopper reports:

If Joan Crawford is pining for Greg Bautzer, she isn't showing it. At Joe Sullivan's dinner, she looked radiant in a Sheila O'Brien gown. Sheila, who was Joan's wardrobe girl at MGM, makes all her clothes now, and will get screen credit in "The Victim." "With four children," says Joan, "I can't afford Adrian and Irene prices. I'm supporting a bootier.”

Every two weeks I buy new shoes for the children. I'd forgotten how quickly their feet grow. In my youth I went barefoot." "Why don't you let the kids do that? It would be good for their feet." "It's an idea,” said Joan, "maybe I will.”

October. Joan and Greg Bautzer attend a party at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, hosted by Louis B. Mayer in honor of Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. At one point Bautzer dances with Ginger Rogers. On the way home, Joan asks him to get out of the car to check a tire, then takes off, leaving him to walk home. They break up.

December. Joan and kids give Christmas radio interview to George Fisher.

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