34 Vintage Photos of Joan Crawford’s Personal Life in the 1950s

Born Eve Cohen in 1912 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, American photojournalist Eve Arnold joined Magnum Photos agency in 1951, and became a full member in 1957.

Over six weeks in 1948, Arnold learned photographic skills from Harper’s Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, and photographed many of the iconic figures who shaped the second half of the twentieth century.

Arnold died in London in 2012, aged 99.

“You want to go as deeply into them as people as you can. But usually what happens, if you’re careful with people and if you respect their privacy, they will offer part of themselves that you can use and that is the big secret,” once said Eve Arnold, whose uninstructive approach made her a favourite among the many movie stars who she photographed, who would not only offer Arnold part of themselves, but also divulge some secrets of their own. One such subject was Joan Crawford, one of the last great stars of Hollywood’s golden age, whose reputation as a dramatic and hot-headed personality is the stuff of legend.

These amazing black and white photos Arnold documented personal life of Joan Crawford in the 1950s.

Joan Crawford (born Lucille Fay LeSueur; March 23, c. 1904–1908 – May 10, 1977) was an American actress. Starting as a dancer in traveling theatrical companies before debuting on Broadway, Crawford was signed to a motion picture contract by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1925. Initially frustrated by the size and quality of her parts, Crawford began a campaign of self-publicity and became nationally known as a flapper by the end of the 1920s. In the 1930s, Crawford’s fame rivaled MGM colleagues Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo. Crawford often played hardworking young women who find romance and financial success. These “rags-to-riches” stories were well received by Depression-era audiences and were popular with women. Crawford became one of Hollywood’s most prominent movie stars and one of the highest paid women in the United States, but her films began losing money and by the end of the 1930s she was labeled “box office poison”.

After an absence of nearly two years from the screen, Crawford staged a comeback by starring in Mildred Pierce (1945), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 1955, she became involved with the Pepsi-Cola Company, through her marriage to company president Alfred Steele. After his death in 1959, Crawford was elected to fill his vacancy on the board of directors but was forcibly retired in 1973. She continued acting in film and television regularly through the 1960s, when her performances became fewer; after the release of the horror film Trog in 1970, Crawford retired from the screen. Following a public appearance in 1974, after which unflattering photographs were published, Crawford withdrew from public life. She became more and more reclusive until her death in 1977.

Crawford married four times. Her first three marriages ended in divorce; the last ended with the death of husband Al Steele. She adopted five children, one of whom was reclaimed by his birth mother. Crawford’s relationships with her two older children, Christina and Christopher, were acrimonious. Crawford disinherited the two and, after Crawford’s death, Christina wrote a “tell-all” memoir called Mommie Dearest. (Wikipedia)

Joan Crawford trying to remember her lines during a rehearsal at home. Behind her is Joan as she was in Mildred Pierce, California, 1959
Portrait of American actress Joan Crawford, Los Angeles, California, 1959
Actress Joan Crawford, Los Angeles, California, 1959
Actress Joan Crawford, Los Angeles, California, 1959
Joan Crawford tries on hats in the salon of New York’s high fashion designer Walter Florell. Her whole professional life has been one of great concern with her person. It is a commodity which she sells not only to the public-but also to herself. New York, 1959.
Joan Crawford and her daughter Christina with one of Joan’s toy poodles at Tina Leser’s (a designer) where they have gone on a shopping tour, New York, 1956
7 Joan Crawford and her daughter Christina, New York, 1956
7 Joan Crawford and her daughter Christina, New York, 1956
7 Joan Crawford and her daughter Christina, New York, 1956
Joan Crawford in New York, 1956
Joan Crawford with her twin daughters Kathy and Cindy and her poodles, Hollywood, California, 1959
Joan Crawford and her daughter Christina, who later wrote Mommie Dearest, New York, 1956
Joan and Christina Crawford during a workout with Susan Strasberg, New York, 1956
Joan Crawford on the telephone to her agent, Hollywood, California, 1959
American actress Joan Crawford in Los Angeles, California, 1959
Joan Crawford sitting in curlers reading her script in her Hollywood dressing room, Los Angeles, 1959
Joan makes up for a scene in ‘The Best of Everything’, Hollywood, California, 1959
Joan Crawford with mirror during make-up session on the rest of ‘The Best of Everything’, Hollywood, California, 1959
Joan Crawford with mirror during make-up session on the rest of ‘The Best of Everything’, Hollywood, California, 1959
Joan Crawford with mirror during make-up session on the rest of ‘The Best of Everything’, Hollywood, California, 1959
Joan Crawford having a face massage, 1959
Joan Crawford – facial, Hollywood, California, 1959
Joan Crawford during a massage session, with her poodle walking over her back, at home in Hollywood, California, 1959
Actress Joan Crawford, Los Angeles, California, 1959
Actress Joan Crawford, Los Angeles, California, 1959
Actress Joan Crawford, Los Angeles, California, 1959
Joan happily sits before the portrait by artist Lucerne Robert’s of her late husband. Now in Joan’s appartment, the portrait will eventually hang in Pepsi Cola’s New York offices, Hollywood, California, 1959
Joan giving instructions to her personal crew, Los Angeles, California, 1959
Actress Joan Crawford at home in Hollywood during a dress fitting, Hollywood, California, 1959
Joan Crawford cleaning her house in Hollywood, California, 1959
Joan Crawford cleaning her house in Hollywood, California, 1959
Actress Joan Crawford in Los Angeles, California, 1959
Joan Crawford studying her lines on the set of ‘The Best of Everything’, Hollywood, California, 1959
Joan smiles at 20th Century Fox President Spyros Skouros following signing of contract to sell films to television at a party at her studio, Hollywood, California, 1959

(Photos © Eve Arnold | Magnum Photos)

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