It started on Torch Song. Crawford went in for some slight, surgical improvements.
"The face and the breasts are new, but my ass is the same -- as flat and as firm as a twenty-year-old's."
Described by one critic as "a drag Queen let loose on film," she had her hair dyed apricot-orange and styled ina "brutal page-boy." The coup de grace for Joan was that her singing voice had been dubbed by Indian Adams, "in a voice so husky it could pull a dog sled."
Crawford knew the end was on the horizon. She began drinking more. Her next film, Johnny Guitar, proved disastrous to her reputation. The film was a flop but a month before the opening an enterprising reporter named Roby Heard of the Los Angeles Mirror called Republic's press office and said he wanted to do a story on Crawford, to break when the movie opened. It was to be part interview and part overview of Joan's long, illustrious career, the writer informed.
Crawford gave the interview, the "overview" was expanded, and hte piece was scheduled as a series.
"I am thrilled," said Joan, granting Heard access to members of her family and to her friends.
That was her first mistake.
"JOAN CRAWFORD -- QUEEN OR TYRANT? The Star Thrives on Feuds" was the headline of the article. Offering their help in the dissection were Marilyn Monroe, Jack Palance, Mercedes McCambridge, Greg Bautzer, Gloria Grahame, Nick Ray, Joan's mother and brother, and her ex-servants.
Crawford, herself, addressed the remarks she made about Monroe at the Photoplay Awards: "I criticized Marilyn Monroe as I would my own daughter," said Joan. "No comment," said Marilyn.
"Jealousy caused Crawford to attack Marilyn. She should develop benevolence towards other human beings," said Marilyn's former roommate Natasha Lytess.
Joan's behavior on Sudden Fear was the "talk of Hollywood," an unnamed columnist confided. "Once, in the presence of the entire company, she berated the director and slapped him in the face."
She also abused Jack Palance. "Look, I don't want any more squabbles with Crawford. I have my future to think about. She's difficult. Unless she's handled properly she's lots of trouble. She's a woman and has to have her way in everything."
"She hates all women," said Mrs. Sterling Hayden, "except for those who can help her. If I ever see her again, I'll probably strike her in the face."
"It is apt to be necessary to step on people on your way to the top," Joan's mother, Mrs. Anna LeSueur, believed.
"I have the same driving force. But those of us with talent and ambition must develop tolerance, must make allowances for people less gifted," said former silent star Theda Bara.
"I haven't seen my sister in more than five years. For personal reasons, I must refrain from saying why," said Hal LeSueur.
"Ask Joan why we stopped going out together. No comment from me," said attorney Greg Bautzer.
"Ask Miss Crawford why she abused a Johnny Guitar actress so badly the player had to travel 28 miles across the desert to enter a hospital," said Mrs. Sterling Hayden.