Friday, March 26, 2010

Bitch Goddess

March 23, 1904 - May 10, 1977

It's impossible to separate Joan Crawford from The Mommie Myth, although a "reclamation project" (to cop a phrase from Charles Busch) has slowly been building over the years. To distill Crawford's legacy and essence down to a one-note wire hanger joke is not only unfair, but virtually erases a huge, vital chunk of film history. Whatever her character flaws may or may not have been, Joan Crawford was a superstar of the first rank from the 1920's through the 1970's -- arguably, the greatest of them all (with apologies to Miss Desmond).

It's also worth remembering that, although the iconic image of a hardened, shoulder-padded Crawford is forever frozen in time and memory, she was actually brilliant at constantly reinventing herself, never -- revisionist history to the contrary -- allowing herself to become an anachronism...The flapper of the 1920's, the clotheshorse of the 1930's, the proto-feminist of the 1940's, the lusty older woman of the 1950's, the Grande Dame of the 1960's and 1970's -- these were all clearly defined epochs in the Crawford canon, each one distinct and different...

...For all of her legendary temperament, her overly-exacting standards, her mania for perfection, Miss Crawford, it must be said, never expected any more from her colleagues, co-workers, employees or children than she expected of herself. The fact that mere mortals could rarely, if ever, work or conduct their lives with the 200 percent commitment and discipline which Joan Crawford demonstrated throughout her entire career probably never even crossed her mind.

So, we think, a little love and a lot of respect is due. She came from nothing -- for all her Grand Lady pretentions and affectation, Miss Crawford made no bones about her own squalid childhood -- and although she clearly benefitted from the pampering services of Metro in the halcyon days of the Studio System, JOAN CRAWFORD, Star, was almost entirely the result of her own iron will, ambition, talent, and ferocious drive to escape her past. La Crawford's greatest creation, her towering performance, was being Joan Crawford, and she lived and loved it 24 hours a day. For that, we offer our thanks and gratitude.
Bless you, Joan! Wherever you are, we want you to know: We Understand.

March 26, 1944

Like the other misunderstood Great Lady, Joan Crawford, Diana Ross's famed temperament and legendary demands often overshadow her very real, very important contributions and talents. As the first black female superstar to achieve the level of celebrity previously only afforded whites, Diana Ross should be mentioned each night in the prayers of everyone from Halle Berry to Oprah Winfrey to Tyra Banks. She also, directly or indirectly, influenced and paved the way for at least three generations of singers, from Donna Summer to Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson to Madonna, Beyonce to Rihanna. Indeed, Diana Ross nearly single-handedly invented and defined what we now accept as the template for the "pop diva"...

...Love her or hate her (and both camps are legion), Diana Ross simply cannot be denied. Her name was written in stone in the pantheon of greats long, long ago. Much of the mean-spiritedness with which so many of her colleagues, music historians, and successors disparage her name and reputation can be traced to the fact that not only did Diana Ross have the audacity to be black and beautiful, but she also made it seem so easy -- and she wasn't sentimental about cutting her losses and leaving people behind who couldn't help her achieve her goals. How dare she!

At the end of the day, however, the numbers and tallies don't lie: nearly 50 years in the business, 18 Number One hits, an Oscar nomination, a Golden Globe Award, a special Tony, a Kennedy Center Honor, Billboard magazine's "Entertainer of the Century" citation, two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame... why
shouldn't we bow down and call her Miss Ross?



  1. I'll give you 90% of JC, however she "Shows" behind Bette Davis' "Place" and Katherine Hepburn's "Win". JC was good at taking on the tales of her time, but Davis picked the classics. JC could never do the Wedding Party and BD would neveh consider Johnny Guitar. Conversly, I can hear JC in Beyond the Forest delivering the line "What a dump" with more meaning than La Bette.

    Kate could do what neither could muster - the broadest possible range of roles - comedy to harsh drama and everything inbetween.

    Now MISS Ross is a different story. Crawford was the consumate STAR, but Miss Ross is a DIVA. And I'm still convinced that Miss Ross killed her last exhusband by pushing him off that glacier.

    Love you TBJ. Miss you...

  2. Viva La Crawford! Tongue out of cheek, her drive and determination are quite inspiring - it wasn't by accident that Mrs. Pepsico became and stayed a star. EEE

  3. Great post. I love both these ladies!

  4. The older I get the more I appreciate Joan. She's definitely a star for grown ups.
    Miss Ross I can do without, just as easily as she does without me.

    And I believe Joan's daughter was contemptible in writing that book. I have not procreated to this very day...

  5. Joan was always doing one for her fans. She knew who put her on top and she was faithful to them.

  6. **Clapping madly with a tear streaked face**

    BRAVO!!! BRAVO!!!

  7. "...and she wasn't sentimental about cutting her losses and leaving people behind who couldn't help her achieve her goals."

    That sums it up. I'll always dislike her intensely for what happened to Florence Ballard.


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