Thursday, September 21, 2017

She did it her way

In the early 1970's, after the embarrassing horror film Trog put the final nail in the coffin of an illustrious acting career, Joan Crawford added author to her list of accomplishments with the release of a very unique memoir. My Way of Life wasn't an autobiography per se, but more about how the former Lucille LeSueur navigated Hollywood, her marriages and life in general as the glamorous Joan Crawford. And then the book was made into what I guess would have been the 1970's version of an audiobook - on vinyl - narrated by who else? Joan herself, of course.

Today The Hollywood Revue blogged about the book and included a link to the audio version on YouTube. I started listening to it earlier and it's absolutely addicting.

Although there's some seriously dated advice - like how to basically kowtow to your husband(s), it is a fascinating look at what life was like for women in the 1920's through the 1970's. And Joan has detailed opinions on everything from cooking, decorating, entertaining (including extensive discussion of menus), budgeting (seriously) and fashion, and I'm not even halfway through it.

And for Joan's fans, despite how far her star had fallen at the time this was recorded, there's the trademark loftiness and obsession with order, and she name drops like a champ. It is Joan not only in her own words, but delivered in her own voice as well.

One thing that I found interesting is that despite how cringeworthy some of it is, Joan the regal, dignified mega star is out in full force. There's no hesitation in her reading and no sign of the frail, pathetic mess that Feud: Bette and Joan portrayed her as in the waning years of her stardom and life. Either they overplayed that or, like the trooper she'd always been, Joan got her act together at least during the recording, and that wouldn't surprise me - Joan went through life as a persona of her own creation. I've read that several places and Feud addressed it in a heartwrenching scene in which Joan breaks down and admits she doesn't know who she really is because she's been playing the role of Joan Crawford for most of her life.

Whatever Joan's true frame of mind at the time, the recording is a fascinating piece of Hollywood history and I'm glad someone got it up on YouTube where it can be enjoyed. Do check it out.

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