Friday, November 16, 2007

Christina, bring me the Internets!

While googling Brenda Frazier earlier this week—so as to better understand the life of Carlotta Campion—I stumbled on the most fabulous treasure trove of all things Joan Crawford:

The Best of Everything: A Joan Crawford Encyclopedia

Now, I don't really consider myself to be one of Joan Crawford's fans. To my knowledge, the only movie I've seen her in is The Women, in which I thought 1) she was waaaaay too old to play Crystal Allen and 2) she looked kind of like a witch. And while I'm sure the Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest is built on a bit of theatrical exaggeration, I have absolutely zero tolerance for emotional and physical abuse, so I'm inclined to think Christina's portrayal of her mother didn't occur in a vacuum.

But! The Best of Everything: A Joan Crawford Encyclopedia is virtual crack, sucking up every free moment of my (and maybe my employer's but you didn't hear it from me) time this week with photos and timelines and exhausting research and fascinating trivia about the growth and decline of Hollywood through everyone and everything remotely associated with Joan Crawford.

For instance: Did you know that there were two Christopher Crawfords? It's true! Joan adopted the first one from some deranged woman who eventually demanded him back so she could abuse him for a year and then adopt him out to someone else. Then when Joan adopted the second boy she named Christopher, the deranged woman—forgetting she'd already reclaimed and re-adopted-out her son—broke into Joan's house to demand her kid back a second time.

Also! Everyone knows Joan's real name was Lucille LeSueur and that "Joan Crawford" came from MGM/Movie Weekly magazine's 1925 naming contest staged as a publicity stunt to launch her career. At least you all should have known that. Well, The Best of Everything: A Joan Crawford Encyclopedia has the rest of the story: "Joan Arden" was really the winning name in that fabled contest, but three people had submitted it and MGM didn't want to pony up $1,000 each to all three winners. So they went with their second choice, which—as we all know—was submitted by only one person: a Mrs. Louise Artisdale of 149 Dartmouth St., Rochester, New York.

One more: Joan was a slut. The woman who so devotedly put together The Best of Everything: A Joan Crawford Encyclopedia clearly loves Joan Crawford (and clearly hates Christina for suggesting even for a second that Joan wasn't a saint), but she makes no bones about the innumerable affairs Joan had (and even allegedly had) with both men and women all over Hollywood.

So! As we-all are enjoying ourselves this week in Disney World, you-all can spend your NoFo time combing through The Best of Everything: A Joan Crawford Encyclopedia. But don't say I didn't warn you about its addictiveness.

And don't forget to come back here when you're done.

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