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A Joan Crawford Chronology: 1970s on

 

1970    1971    1972    1973    1974    1975    1976    1977    1978    post-1978

 

 

1970

January 16. Joan appears on the Merv Griffin Show as well as on the David Frost Show.

January 21. Joan appears in the "Nightmare" episode of The Virginian.

February 2. At the Golden Globe awards show at the Cocoanut Grove, Joan is presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award by John Wayne.

January 30. Joan appears on The Tim Conway Show.

March 21. Joan appears on the Merv Griffin Show.

April 21. Joan appears on the David Frost Show.

May 12 - 13. Joan visits her Columbia, Missouri, alma mater Stephens College for the first time since she left it in 1923. She receives the first Presidential Citation awarded by the school.

May 16. Joan makes a personal appearance in Sedalia, Missouri, for a Pepsi bottling plant opening.

June. Christina decides to move to Los Angeles. Joan offers her the use of her West Hollywood apartment and calls some of her friends to help Christina find work. 6 weeks later, Joan has her secretary call Christina to ask her to move out since Joan will be needing the apartment herself.

June 15. Joan hosts the TV movie "Journey to the Unknown."

October 4.  Joan (along with Jesse Owens) is a featured "Founders Day" speaker at an Albion, Michigan, benefit for "Starr Commonwealth," a non-profit organization for troubled kids.  Also on this day, Joan appears on The Tim Conway Comedy Hour.

October 24. Trog released. This is Joan's final film.

 

1971

January 14. Joan is honored at Toots Shor's in New York City at the "Time Record Breakers" event for being the "longest actively reigning star."

January 15. Joan appears on The Name of the Game.

January 26. Joan appears at Blackglama's Night of the Legends party to benefit NYC's Police Athletic League.

January 30. Joan hosts the TV movie "Journey to Murder."

February 5. Joan attends the Golden Globe awards.

September 9. Joan places her handprints and signature in cement at Theatre 80 (80 St. Marks Place) in New York City.

October. Joan attends a 5-day "Joan Crawford Film Festival" held in Washington, D.C., hosted by the American Film Institute. While in DC, she autographs copies of My Way of Life at Woodward & Lothrop.

October 7. Joan appears on the David Frost Show.

October 8.  Joan's book My Way of Life is published by Simon and Schuster.

October 28. Joan appears on the Merv Griffin Show.

December 25. Joan and Christina speak for the last time, in an unpleasant Christmas conversation. The two continue to exchange mail and birthday/holiday gifts, however.

 

1972

[Joan's TV commercial for the Muscular Dystrophy Association is aired.]

Mid-April. Carl Johnes, a story editor at Columbia Pictures' NYC office, is asked by his boss to help Joan rearrange her library. [All Johnes info is from his 1979 memoir Crawford: The Last Years.]

April 27. Joan appears in the TV movie "Beyond the Water's Edge."

September 26. Joan appears on the Merv Griffin Show.

September 30. Joan appears in the "Dear Joan, We're Going to Scare You to Death" episode of The Sixth Sense.

 

1973

[Joan's TV commercial for the American Cancer Society is aired.]

April 8. Joan appears at New York City's Town Hall for a live interview with John Springer, as part of his "Legendary Ladies of the Screen" series.

April. PepsiCo forcibly retires Joan from the company's board.

September. Joan moves from apartment 22-G to the smaller apartment 22-H in the Imperial House. Joan calls Carl Johnes to help her out. (They hadn't spoken in the year-and-a-half since he helped organize her books.)

October. Carl Johnes travels to Europe and Joan asks him to purchase some Alice Landais scarves while he's in Paris; she gives him a generous amount of money for his efforts. He and Joan meet for lunch on the last Sunday of the month.

December 26. Joan's longtime friend William Haines dies.

December 27. Joan has cocktail party. Carl Johnes and her neighbors, the Mertzes, are among the guests.

 

1974

March. On the first Wednesday of the month, Joan has Johnes and his brother and sister-in-law over for drinks and backgammon.

March 30-31. Joan is one of 14 featured actors interviewed on the 30-part "The American Movie" program of the CBS Radio Network.

April. Joan phones Johnes to play backgammon; he's not home, so she invites his roommate over instead.

May 24. Joan is diagnosed with periodontal disease.

July 17. Joan is hospitalized for dental surgery.

September 23. Joan makes her last public appearance, at New York City's Rainbow Room, at a party honoring Rosalind Russell.

December 10. Joan falls in her apartment and receives two black eyes after hitting her head on a table.

December 11. Joan watches the documentary "This Is Noel Coward" broadcast on the local PBS station after filmmaker Charles Castle expresses an interest in doing a similar film on her. She isn't impressed with the show and subsequently decides not to work with Castle. (He later publishes the book Raging Star about her.)

December 12. Joan and Johnes have lunch at her apartment.

 

1975

January. Joan stops drinking. (This according to a letter she wrote to a regular fan in June 1976, saying she had not had a drink in 17 months.)

February. When Joan finds out Carl Johnes is having friends over to watch Maureen Stapleton in the TV movie "Queen of the Stardust Ballroom," Joan provides him with an ice-filled cooler of Pepsi and Diet Pepsi, chipping the ice and filling the cooler herself.

March 23. Johnes gives Joan a copy of Mildred Cram's book Forever for her birthday.

May. Joan is named "Mother of the Year" by the national greeting card industry.

 

1976

October 21. An FBI agent phones Joan to discuss recent extortion and death threats made against her.

October 28. Joan signs her last will and testament.

December.

Joan gives away a mink coat to her latter-day companion Darinka Papich. (Carleton Varney, There's No Place Like Home)

Late in the month, Joan fixes Carl Johnes drinks at her apartment. It's their last meeting in person.

Author Shaun Considine (later to write Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud) interviews Joan by phone.

December 24. Carl Johnes receives a Christmas crock-pot in the mail from Joan and the two enthuse about it over the phone. (She also gives him an Executive Planner.)

 

1977

January. Variety reports that Joan will star in a TV series, The Silver Foxes.

March 23. Joan gives up smoking. (Varney, There's No Place Like Home)

April 10. Christina Crawford receives a last letter from Joan, a belated "thank you" for sending her a birthday card the month before.

May 4 (Wednesday). Designer Carleton Varney speaks with Joan, by phone, for the last time:

She wanted to send out two bedside tables to be relaminated and, as usual, was following up on every detail and wondering what was taking the shop so long to get them back to her. (Varney, There's No Place Like Home)

May 6 (Friday). Joan gives away her Shih Tzu, Princess Lotus Blossom, to the sister of her latter-day friend/companion Darinka Papich. From Carleton Varney's There's No Place Like Home:

That Friday, Darinka and her sister took the dog in a station wagon to Zora's apartment, and when her egalitarian collection of dogs met the new addition, Darinka reported they definitely knew they were in the presence of a lady. Nevertheless, by the weekend Princess was a Greenwich Village street dog squatting in the curb with the hoi polloi.

May 8 (Mother's Day Sunday). From Carleton Varney's There's No Place Like Home:

Darinka had visited that day, and Joan, managerial to the end, had her record all the phone messages. Cindy and Cathy had called, and Christina had sent flowers....Joan was feeling well enough that day to attend to some correspondence, and she dictated three letters to Darinka....Joan was dying in sections. Although she could still sit up and use her upper torso, she no longer had the use of her legs. But her mind was clear and remained so. Late that afternoon, Darinka saw that she was getting tired and helped the nurse carry her into the bathroom, bathe her, carry her back to bed, dress her, and brush her hair. With Mamacita gone, Joan had no live-in help, but the nurse had been with her constantly for three weeks.

May 9 (Monday). From Carleton Varney's There's No Place Like Home:

On Monday, Darinka was back, relieved to find Joan still alive, and the nurse left for a few days. That day, as Darinka was carrying Joan to the toilet..."I think I said something like, 'I want to pray for you,'" she recalled. Joan said, almost as an aside, "Oh Darinka, don't do that."... When Darinka later told Christina about the incident, she said she had done so in an effort to explain why her mother had told no one she was dying, to try to convey to her the extent of Joan's refusal to be an object of pity. She was upset when Christina later said in her book that Joan's last words had been, "Goddamn it, don't pray for me." Darinka wished Tina had been with her mother when she lay dying. "It becomes part of you forever," she said. "If Christina had seen her mother suffer, she could never have written all those horrible things."

May 10 (Tuesday). Joan Crawford dies in her New York City apartment. The death certificate lists the cause as "cardiac arrest" and the official time of death as 10am.

May 13 (Friday). Joan's funeral is held at NYC's Campbell Funeral Home at 10am. All four children attend, as does Joan's niece. Joan's will is read to the family that evening.

May 16. A New York memorial service is held for Joan at All Soul's Unitarian Church on Lexington Avenue.

May 19. The AP reports that Joan's will has left nothing to Christina and Christopher, "for reasons which are well known to them."

June 24. A Beverly Hills memorial service for Joan, organized by George Cukor, is held at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences building, in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

November 19. The LA Times reports that Christina and Christopher have filed suit with the New York state Supreme Court asking for a jury trial regarding the will and that the will not be admitted to probate. (If the will not admitted to probate, this would mean that Joan died without a will and that her estate would be divided equally between all four children.)

 

1978

February. An auction of Joan's belongings is held at the Plaza Galleries on Manhattan's East Side. The items are appraised at $8,000 and bring in $43,000.

Fall. William Morrow and Co. publishes Christina Crawford's tell-all memoir Mommie Dearest.

 


NOTE: Post-1978, only years in which something of relative interest in Joan-lore will appear.

 

1981

September 18. The film version of Christina's book Mommie Dearest is released.

 

1992

January. Neil Tucker's play "Joan and the Zulus" (based on Joan's Pepsi travels in Africa and starring Grace Zabriskie as Joan) opens at the Cast Theatre in Hollywood.

 

1993

June 19. At a Christie's sale by daughter Cathy LaLonde, Joan's Oscar for Mildred Pierce is sold for $68,500.

 

1996

A&E airs a  60-minute Joan documentary, "Always the Star," as part of its Biography series.

 

1998

July. Twin Cathy LaLonde files suit against Christina for defamation of character after Christina continues to claim that Cathy and Cindy are not twins. The suit is settled out of court.

 

1999

January. Playboy magazine announces its "Sex Stars of the Century." Joan is listed at #84.

June 16. The American Film Institute announces its two lists of the "50 Greatest American Screen Legends," 25 male, 25 female. Joan is listed at #10.

 

2001

August. Christina appears on the Larry King Show and claims that Joan murdered (!) Al Steele.

 

2002

August. Turner Classic Movies premieres a 90-minute documentary, "Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Star." Joan is also their featured Star of the Month.

 

2003

July 16. E! presents its "101 Most Shocking Moments in Entertainment, 40 - 21." At Number 35: "Christina Crawford writes Mommie Dearest about abusive mother Joan Crawford," which appears just behind "James Dean dies in car accident" and just before "Freddie Prinze commits suicide." (Joan's allegedly poor mothering skills seem to be losing some steam---Pee-Wee Herman's peep-show adventure ranked as several notches more scurrilous!)

 

2004

March 23. "The Best of Everything: A Joan Crawford Encyclopedia" website premieres! :)

 

2011

December 7. At NYC's Doyle auction house, 80 lots of Joan items sell for $135,392. Top seller is her Golden Globe, going for $25,000.

 

2017

March 5. The 8-part Ryan Murphy-created series Feud, starring Jessica Lange as Joan and Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis, premieres on the FX network.

 

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