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The Night Joan Crawford Played a Waiting Game

One enchanted evening Joan came face to face with her past -- and, Man! how she collected!

by Gene St. Ledges
originally appeared in Whisper magazine, April 1957



Every actress has a past. Sometime's it's something that haunts her all her life and she dreads the day when someone will find it out. On the other hand, sometimes it's simply a little thing, almost forgotten with the passage of time, and it takes an unexpected situation to make that almost forgotten memory come to life again.

Such a thing happened to Joan Crawford one night not long ago in the Doll House Restaurant in Palm Springs.

A memory turned up to haunt her -- and it resulted in one of the most profitable evenings of her life.

The Doll House was jumping that night. It was so crowded that the velvet covered chain -- which means standing room only -- was stretched across the entrance. But Joan, well known and well liked in the movie colony, had no trouble getting thru the velveted chain and wangling a table for herself and her party.

They seated themselves and a couple of minutes later a waitress appeared to take their order. Joan looked up at the girl, about to say what she wanted -- but the words were stopped on her lips.

In Another World

Looking at the girl was like seeing herself in a mirror -- exactly as she looked many years ago!

It came as quite a shock; as if she had slipped into some sort of dream world. Was she really having a glimpse into the past? Was this some strange trick of time? Was that actually herself, her younger self, standing there before her now?

With a shake of her head, Joan came back to earth and looked more closely at the girl. The vision hadn't vanished, it was still there. Instead of giving an order for food, Joan gave a puzzled smile.

"Who are you?" she asked.

The girl smiled back, gave her name, a name totally unknown to Joan. Then she added, "It's a great honor to wait on you, Miss Crawford. Many people have often told me I look like you."

"Just like I used to look!" Joan murmured to herself. Then snapped out of it with a laugh, "I used to wait on tables, too!" she added.

Then a great idea hit her.

"Well," she said, "if that's the case, maybe I ought to take over your job. Let's see if I can still do it!"

With that, she stood up, took the girl's pad, pencil and money belt, sat the waitress down with her friends and proceeded to dish out vittles to the customers.

And Joan hadn't forgotten how. Even in that crowded room she got around.

At one point another waitress, seeing nothing but disaster ahead for the tray of dishes Joan was carrying, offered to help her maneuver it thru a particularly well populated part of the room.

"Don't worry about me, sweetie," Crawford said, "I did this for years!"

And for the next two hours she was fastest hash slinger on the floor.

So fast that not once was the soup served cold, not once did anyone get anything they didn't order, and not once did anyone stiff her on a tip.

Lots of Loot

At the end of the two hours of duty Joan returned to her own table and dumped her tips all over it. They amounted to over three hundred smackeroos. All of which she promptly turned over to the regular waitress.

As we said in the beginning it was a mightly profitable evening. So profitable, in fact, it makes one wonder why a gal who can make $150 an hour (about $312,000 per year) waiting on tables ever bothered with becoming an actress in the first place!

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