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on 9 May 2012
The author admits in the introduction to being a fan.He then posses a question as to why another biog of Crawford is required.He then spends the next 290 pages proving that his effort was not warranted.
It is a revisionist tome which mirrors the authors tiresome obsession with Christina Crawford.
The author seems to want to make the point that Crawford was obsessed with being a star and that she would become possessed by her roles.the only film where there might be some truth was Craigs Wife.
Whilst Crawford was a great film star she wasnt a great actress playing great roles.She didnt go on suspension for better parts.She acepted what she was given or what she could find.The author acknowledges that many of her films at Metro were undistinguished.That being the case it is difficulrt to understand his asertion to the contraray,and his insistance on reciting the plots of many of her forgettable films.
His obsession with Christina Crawford and her book all but ruins what could be an interesting book.Page 194 has to be the silliest page i have ever read in any biog.He discusses whether the hangers were made of wood or wire and who put them in the closet.He tries every means possible to discedit Christina.He tries to prove she had an unreliable memory because she got wrong the date Yul Brynner visited her mother.She highlights Myrna Loy's description of Christina,whilst decrying Helen Hayes recollections on the basis that they were published after Christina's book.He doesnt seem to be able to accept that Crawford was capable of such infamous behaviour and this seriously mars the book.
Then we have the Crawford-Davis feud.the author says that this was a publicist's idea to drum up publicity for Baby Jane.Well there are enough documented stories about that film to fill a single book.He then omits any reference to the following years Oscar ceremony.Not only did Crawford actually canvass against Davis,she got all of the other actresses to agree to allow her to accept the award on their behalf.Ann Bancroft won and Crawford duly accepted.
There is very little about Hush Hush Charlotte and her "illness".
You cannot write an objective biog if your are a fan as the author prooves.
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on 20 March 2011
Very enjoyable. A different view of an exceptional person debunking some of the previously expressed perceptions particulaly by her daughter Christina. I finished liking the lady and appreciating the exceptional volume and scope of her professional and personal life. But is it true or just another take? I recommend it if you want an enjoyable read.
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on 20 October 2014
This is possibly the most unbalanced biography I have read. We learn right at the beginning, in the preface, that the author is clearly a Joan Crawford fan. He decides not to focus on any controversial aspects of the actresses life at all, but instead focuses on all of her good points. Very little is said about Joan's affairs with married men and alleged lesbian affairs , her meanness to others in the film industry, her selfishness and her often ruthless ambition is turned into admirable determination. Another point which I found irritating is his habit of bashing any other actress or rival Joan may have had. The most ridiculous example; Greta Garbo is accused of overacting compared to Joan. He also asserts that she was just a pretty face and had no acting talent. As any classic movie fan will know, Joan was no where near as talented as Garbo, who could elevate any film. It just began to feel like this was a starstruck school kid writing about his favorite Movie Star, and a good biography should never feel like that.
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on 15 January 2013
I knew very little about Joan Crawford apart from the general tittle tattle that circulates now and again about Hollywood stars and their beauty. I have to say the writing style of Donald Spoto was uncomplicated, and he did not get too bogged down in all the nuances and controversies of the films that Joan Crawford made, and there were a great deal of them. What I found nauseous at times was that Joan Crawford could do no wrong,everything was the fault of others,or that her actions were misinterpreted. I believe a true biographer writes about warts and all, and leaves the reader to make their own conclusions about the situation.I found the book interesting about the rise of the film industry, and the development of the studios-one film produced per week amazing-and the move from silent to talkies,and all the great names that Joan Crawford came into contact with.At times there seemed to be too much analysis of the reasons why she was what she was,again I believe the reader should make their own judgemets once they have been given the circumstances.
Overall an enjoyable and informative read, but some more objectivity would have helped with the story veracity.
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This biography of Joan Crawford is a respectable, pretty straightforward recounting of the star's life, while not breaking any new ground. The author pretty much covers most of her personal and professional life, creating a portrait of a dynamic, compassionate, woman, who was, at times, a mass of contradictions. Driven by her personal demons, Joan was definitely a woman with whom to be reckoned.

The author is clearly a fan, as he puts up a pretty persuasive defense to the "Mommie Dearest" claims of her adopted daughter, Christina, claims refuted by two other of her adopted children, as well as others who had a place in Joan's personal life. He also lays out all her charitable works of which there were a great many, most of which were not publicized at her request.

Joan Crawford remains one of the most intriguing stars ever to grace Hollywood. It is unfortunate that this biography, though a yeoman's effort, does not shine as brightly. Still, those with an interest in Joan Crawford's life will get a modicum of enjoyment from reading this book.
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on 6 May 2014
The book begins brilliantly depicting the era Joan was born into and her hard beginnings. An era i love learning about as it has gone. This is all too brief. Her early years are evocative of the era and portray a spirited and hard working young woman who made something of her life at a time when you could leave home and work in your early teens. But as the book goes on it becomes more a filmography and less a biography. I became very bored with page after page of technical details of films - I can research these elsewhere. I wanted to know more about Joan the woman in her later years and it disappoints in this regard. Also, i wanted to know about Joan's relationship with her brother (who she supported so must have felt something towards) and her mother, but these threads just evaporate. But, a fan will enjoy many aspects of the book, and it did leave me admiring a woman who has been much misunderstood, and wishing I had known her and shared her era.
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Donald Spoto has written many other books detailing the stories of many well-known people, and in this one, he addresses the life of Joan Crawford.

After Crawford's death, her daughter released memoirs which were published in her book "Mommie Dearest", painting a less than flattering view of Joan Crawford. However, in this book, Spoto takes on the claims in Mommie Dearest and challenges them, attempting to correct the public's perception of Joan Crawford, and look at her life and career in a different light.

Although the book wasn't for me, it is a very interesting and intriguing take of Joan Crawford's life. It delves into the highs and lows of her life, giving you all the information and leaving the reader to make up their own mind. A must read for any Joan Crawford fans.
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on 13 September 2014
Wonderful book. Such a shame that so many people judge Joan Crawford by the totally flawed and unjustified portrayal in Mommie Dearest. A wonderful actress, sadly missed.
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on 9 March 2015
A mind-numbingly dull read.

' one is waiting for you, and many people have the idea that you're difficult to work with.' (p.173)
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on 31 October 2015
Great book
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