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Joan CrawfordJoan Crawford

The Essential Biography

Lawrence J. Quirk and William Schoell

Narrated by Jim Bratton

Available from Audible

Book published by The University Press of Kentucky

Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography explores the life and career of one of Hollywood’s great dames. She was a leading film personality for more than fifty years, from her beginnings as a dancer in silent films of the 1920s, to her portrayals of working-class shop girls in the Depression thirties, to her Oscar-winning performances in classic films such as Mildred Pierce. Crawford’s legacy has become somewhat tarnished in the wake of her daughter Christina’s memoir, Mommie Dearest, which turned her into a national joke. Today, many picture Crawford only as a wire hanger-wielding shrew rather than the personification of Hollywood glamour. This new biography of Crawford sets the record straight, going beyond the gossip to find the truth about the legendary actress. The authors knew Crawford well and conducted scores of interviews with her and many of her friends and co-stars, including Frank Capra, George Cukor, Nicholas Ray, and Sidney Greenstreet. Far from a whitewash—Crawford was indeed a colorful and difficult character— Joan Crawford corrects many lies and tells the story of one of Hollywood’s most influential stars, complete with on-set anecdotes and other movie lore. Through extensive interviews, in-depth analysis, and evaluation of her films and performances—both successes and failures—Lawrence J. Quirk and William Schoell present Crawford’s story as both an appreciation and a reevaluation of her extraordinary life and career. Filled with new interviews, Joan Crawford tells the behind-the-scenes story of the Hollywood icon.

Lawrence J. Quirk is the author of many books on film, including Bob Hope: The Road Well-Traveled.

William Schoell is the author of several entertainment-related books, including Martini Man: The Life of Dean Martin.


“Expert.... The woman who emerges from these pages was tough, demanding, self-obsessed, horny, generous, and loyal. ”

Bay Area Reporter

“This bio covers her entire career—a career that could only have been possible because of Joan’s magnitude to listen and improve herself as she climbed higher and higher on the Hollywood ladder.”

Buzz Magazine

“Quirk complies the biographical links, recounting in an objective manner Crawford’s progress from studio call girl, her multiple marriages and extensive list of lovers.”

Charleston Post & Courier

“Tells the whole saga, from difficult childhood to wanton chorus girl and starlet days (lots of juicy tidbits included)—blind ambition, Mommy dearest—it’s all here, together with a complete filmography.”

Copley News Service

“A tough-minded but fair and immensely readable analysis of this legendary lady’s colorful life and, especially, career. Lawrence J. Quirk knew Crawford and, with colleague William Schoell, writes with understanding but clear eyes. The result: the smartest, most absorbingly detailed and valuable work yet on a woman who was far more than a Mommie Dearest—one of the great stars of the 20th century.”

—Doug McClelland

“An expert overview of the temperamental diva's career.”

Film Review

“A thoroughgoing, evenhanded review of Crawford’s life and work, which in tone is neither academic nor gossipy but rather confessional, as if they are eager to set the record straight. ”

Library Journal

“This work makes a strenuous effort to clear Crawford’s name of the child abuse cloud that has hung over her image since the publication of Christina Crawford’s Mommie Dearest and the fabulously out-of-control movie that book spawned.”

—Liz Smith

All titles are published by:
University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks