Joan Crawford’s early years in Hollywood were like -- well, like a pre-code Joan Crawford movie: a highly ambitious beauty of low birth does what she has to do (whatever she has to do) to transform herself into a well-respected glamour gal at the top of the food chain. Her romance with Douglas Fairbanks Jr -- the scion of the actor/producer who had been considered the King of Hollywood since the early days of the feature film -- began almost simultaneous to Crawford’s breakout hit, Our Dancing Daughters. But the gum-snapping dame with the bad reputation would soon rise far above her well-born husband, cranking out a string of indelible performances in pre-code talkies before hitting an early career peak in the Best Picture-winning Grand Hotel.
Every episode this season will draw from the following books about, and/or based on conversations with, Joan Crawford:
Not The Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford, a Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler
Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography by Lawrence Quirk and William Schoell
Conversations with Joan Crawford by Roy Newquist
Sources specific to this episode:
The First King of Hollywood: The Life of Douglas Fairbanks by Tracey Goessel
A Woman’s View by Jeanine Basinger
The episode includes audio excerpt from Possessed, also a clip from the movie Grand Hotel and the moonlight singing scene from Untamed.
This episode was edited by Sam Dingman, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.