In the first biography of Joan Crawford to give the full, uncensored story, bestselling author David Bret tells Crawford's rags to riches climb, from working in a Kansas City laundry to collecting an Oscar for her defining role in Mildred Pierce, and on to her devotion to Christian Science and reliance on vodka. He discusses the star's legendary relationship with Clark Gable, her countless love affairs, her marriages -- three of them to gay men -- and her obsession with rough sex. Bret divulges what really happened that led her to disinherit two of her four children, earning her the nickname "Mommie Dearest," as well as how her loathed mother forced Crawford to work as a prostitute, appear in pornographic films, and sleep her way to the top. Bret analyzes Crawford's films, many of which were constructed purely as vehicles where actress and character were often indistinguishable. Overtly generous towards her coterie of gay friends, she was heartless towards her enemies, particularly Bette Davis, her co-star in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, with whom she shared a lifelong feud. Drawing on a wealth of unpublished material and interviews, David Bret presents a unique, fascinating portrait of a single-minded, uncompromising woman.
Bret, who has written several celebrity bios, details Joan Crawford's rags-to-riches story in this able biography. Born Lucille LeSueur in 1905, Crawford lived a hardscrabble life in the Midwest; as the product of a Dickensian childhood, she slept her way to the top. She became a taxi dancer who turned tricks; discovered by an MGM talent scout at age 20, she headed to Hollywood. From silents to talkies, in a career that spanned from 1925 to 1970, Crawford, glamorous and vulnerable, became a gay icon and hero to working-class women in films like Possessed and the Oscar-winning Mildred Pierce. Renowned for sleeping with her leading men, she had an on-and-off affair with Clark Gable (who Bret claims swung both ways). Three of her four husbands were bisexual; two were abusive. Her voracious sexual appetite was legendary. Bret chronicles her films, her feud with Bette Davis and dismisses her daughter's Mommie Dearest tirade, but he revels in Hollywood's sexual excesses, and fans who crave a lively insider view will most appreciate this bio.