Six Degrees of Joan Crawford: Douglas Fairbanks / Lucille LeSueur Goes to Hollywood / by Karina Longworth

Joan Crawford, 1920's

Joan Crawford, 1920's

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In order to understand Joan Crawford’s rise to fame, we have to talk about what Joan -- born Lucille LeSueur, and called “Billie Cassin” for much of her childhood -- was like before she got to Hollywood, and what Hollywood was like before she got there. To accomplish the latter, we’ll focus on Douglas Fairbanks: top action star of the silent era, the definition of Hollywood royalty, and the father of Crawford’s first husband.

Lucille LeSueur

Lucille LeSueur

Joan Crawford, 1926

Joan Crawford, 1926

Show notes:

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

Other books referenced in this episode:

The Shocking Miss Pilgrim by Frederica Sagor Maas

His Picture in the Papers: A Speculation on Celebrity in America Based on the Life of Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. by Richard Schickel

The First King of Hollywood: The Life of Douglas Fairbanks by Tracey Goessel

Joan Crawford: Hollywood Martyr by David Bret

Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford by Donald Spoto

Are the Stars Out Tonight? The Story of the Famous Ambassador and Cocoanut Grove, “Hollywood’s Hotel” by Margaret Tante Burk

The big winners from this list are The Shocking Miss Pilgrim and The First King of Hollywood -- the latter being probably the only silent film star biography on the market to correctly use the term “bromance.” Both books are highly recommended.

This episode was edited by Sam Dingman, written and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.