The Joan Crawford Chronicle

January: Joan continues work on the film production "Female On The Beach." The film began production in November 1954.

January: "Ladies Home Companion" magazine publishes the first segment of a two-part article on Joan entitled "The Story I've Never Told," written by Jane Kesner Ardmore. The second segment is published in the magazine's February issue.

January: It is announced that Joan plans to make a film about a school teacher's life. This is the project entitled "Miss O'Brien," which Joan had previously attempted to persuaded Warner Bros. executives to allow her to make in 1948. After Warner Bros. did not make the film, Joan purchased the film rights from them in 1950 for $30,561. This project would ultimately never come to fruition, and Joan would later unsuccessfully attempt to claim the $30,531 purchase of the film rights as a business loss on her taxes.

Mid-January: Joan's secretary quits.

Mid-January: It's announced that Joan will potentially star in the film version of the best-selling novel "Strange Houses," written by Cora Jarrett. The film is later scheduled to begin filming with Joan in Lisbon, however, the production is ultimately canceled.

Mid-January: Joan signs a five-year "stand-in contract" with her stand-in, Sylvia LaMarr. This contract is reportedly the first of its kind.

Late January: It's announced that Joan is interested, for the second time, in starring in a film version of the 1953 novel "The Story of Esther Costello," written by Nicholas Monsarrat. (Joan does later film this project in the autumn of 1956.)

Late January: It's announced that Joan is interested in the film project "The Way We Are." (Later re-titled "Autumn Leaves.")

January 31: Joan is presented with the first annual "Golden Shutter" award by the Los Angeles Press Photographer's Association.

February: Alfred Steele obtains a divorce in Acapulco, Mexico from his second wife, Lillian Nelson Steele.

Early February: Joan completes work on the film "Female On The Beach."

Early February: Joan attends the Redbook Awards party.

Early February: Joan places her Brentwood house for sale for $200,000. She decides against selling the house approximately one month later.

Early February: It's rumored that Joan may marry Charles Baron, an automotive dealer, and organized crime figure, from Chicago, Illinois.

February 12: Joan attends the Academy Award nominations dinner. Joan is escorted to the event by realtor Mike Silverman, from the John Haskell agency.

Mid-February: Joan attends an event at the Sportsman's Lodge Hotel in the San Fernando Valley with her former boyfriend, the Universal Pictures executive Milton Rackmil.

Late February: Joan attends wardrobe fittings in preparation for the film "Queen Bee." Much of Joan's wardrobe for the film is designed by Jean Louis, with Joan supplying much of the jewelry pieces she wears in the film from her own collection.

Late February: Joan attends a gathering at the Sportsman's Lodge in the San Fernando Valley. Escorting Joan is real estate agent Mike Silverman, and accompanying them are Mr. and Mrs. Lee Armor of Fort Worth.

March: Joan rents an apartment from Loretta Young at Young's apartment building on Fountain Avenue in West Hollywood.

Early March: It's announced that Joan has signed a contract between United Artists chairman Arthur B. Krim and her independent film production company, "Joan Crawford Enterprises," to make six films over the next six years, for issuance by United Artists. Joan plans to star in three of the films, and co-produce the remaining three. This agreement came at a time when United Artists were attempting to restructure the company. None of the terms of this contract between Joan and United Artists would come to fruition.

Early March: It's reported that a greeting card and calendar company has asked Joan for publishing rights to her personal "morning prayer"; "Thank you, God, for this lovely day. What can I contribute to it?" This is following Joan's article in the January 1955 "Ladies Home Companion" entitled "The Story I've Never Told," which gives this quote by Joan.

Mid-March: Joan is escorted by actor Rod Steiger to a party honoring "Ladies Home Companion" editor Woodrow Wirsig. Steiger reportedly also rented an apartment unit in Loretta Young's Fountain Avenue apartment building, where Joan began renting her apartment around this time.

Mid-March: Joan's son, Christopher, complains of a toothache while at home from boarding school. Ultimately, Christopher is taken to the dentist and has four teeth extracted.

Mid-March: John Ireland replaces slated-actor Brian Keith in the role of "Judson" in the film "Queen Bee." Keith reportedly had scheduling conflicts with another film at the time.

March 21: Joan signs her contract with William Goetz Productions for the lead in the film "The Way We Are." (Later re-titled "Autumn Leaves.") For her role, Joan's salary is $100,000.

March 23 (#1): Production begins on the film "Queen Bee." Co-starring with Joan is Barry Sullivan, who had a brief romantic relationship with Joan in 1947.

March 23 (#2): Joan is given a birthday party on the set of "Queen Bee," followed later in the day by a dinner in her honor by Universal publicist Bob Rains.

Late March: Joan has dinner at the Plymouth House with Universal Pictures executive Milton Rackmil.

April: Joan attempts to purchase the film rights to Elsa Schiaparelli's autobiography, "Shocking Life," with the hope of portraying Schiaparelli.

April: It's reported that screenwriter Andrew "Buddy" Solt is writing a film script with Joan, Bette Davis and Ginger Rogers in mind for the leads. It's claimed that Joan has already agreed to the project. Solt had previously written the script for Joan's film "They All Kissed The Bride."

April 10: Joan spends Easter vacation with her children, who were home for spring vacation.

April 20: Joan was formerly scheduled to perform as the hostess of the grand opening ceremony of the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada on this date. However, Joan canceled a short time prior. For her appearance, Joan was to be paid $10,000, and be given a new Cadillac every year for five years.

Early May: It is leaked that Joan is planning to marry Pepsi-Cola president Alfred Steele. Columnists theorize Joan will marry Steele soon, and that her upcoming planned trip to Europe will be the couple's Honeymoon.

May 9: Joan and Alfred Steele fly from Los Angeles, California to Las Vegas, Nevada to elope.

May 10: Joan marries Alfred Steele in a 2:10 am elopement ceremony held in the penthouse of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The ceremony was officiated by Las Vegas city judge John F. Mendoza. During the ceremony, Joan wears a black and gold dinner dress with an small orchid pinned on her left shoulder. On the evening of May 10th, Joan and Alfred return to Los Angles, California. Due to the spontaneity of their marriage ceremony, their wedding rings are borrowed from Flamingo Hotel executive Benny Goffstein and his wife, Dottie.

May 11: Alfred Steele travels to Manhattan, New York from Los Angeles, California on a business meeting.

May 12: It's reported that Joan stated that she would retire from films if it interfered with her new marriage to Alfred Steele.

Mid-May: Production completes on the film "Queen Bee."

May 15: Joan had previously reported to the press that she planned to travel to Europe on this date. Following her elopement to Alfred Steele on May 10th, Joan and Alfred sail for the Europe trip on May 26th.

May 16: Joan travels by train to Manhattan, New York from Los Angeles, California.

May 17: En route by train to New York, Joan stops in Chicago, Illinois.

May 26: Joan and Alfred Steele travel, via aboard the S.S. United States, to Europe for their honeymoon. Joan reportedly brings along five trunks and 30 pieces of luggage for the trip, which included twelve Juel Park "flimsy nightgowns." Also aboard the ship is writer Tennessee Williams, who was traveling for a vacation through France, Italy, Spain and Greece.
Prior to the ship setting sail, Joan gives a party in her stateroom for fans and friends. Among those attending is Joan's friend, William Haines and MGM studio executive, Louis B. Mayor.

May 31: Joan and Alfred Steele arrive in Le Havre, France aboard the S.S. United States. The couple's itinerary takes them from Le Havre to Paris to the Riviera, then to Capri, Italy.

Early June: It's reported that Joan is considering starring in the film "Stubborn Wood" with her "Queen Bee" co-star, John Ireland. The story is about a framed woman sent to a mental institution.

Early June: During a television interview, Sterling Hayden, Joan's co-star in "Johnny Guitar," says "The actress I liked best to work with was Bette Davis. The actress I liked least to work with was Joan Crawford." Sterling and Joan had a noted hostile working experience on the set of "Johnny Guitar."

June 1: Joan meets Alfred Steele's daughter, Sally Steele, at a cocktail party held in the couple's honor at Elysee's Club in Paris, France. At the time, Sally was traveling through Europe with friends.

June 2: Joan greets singer Johnny Ray at a restaurant in Paris. Joan, Alfred Steele and his daughter Sally are having lunch, when Joan spots Ray, and takes Sally over to meet him. Joan tells Ray "Look what I inherited. I only met her yesterday."

June 4: Joan and Alfred attend a supper party in their honor. The party is held at Maxim's in Paris, France and attended by approximately 200 people. Earl Blackwell hosted the party, in addition to Blackwell hosted Joan and Alfred during their Paris visit. At the party, Joan wears an amber-colored dress with matching jewelry.

June 13: Joan's mother, Anna LeSueur, arranges to have a lady she knows named Mary Helen Gardner visit Los Angles, California. Mrs. Gardner leaves by train on this day from Kansas City, Missouri traveling to Los Angeles. Additionally, Mrs. Gardner is scheduled to be a guest on the Jack Owens program on June 23rd.

Mid-June: Joan and Alfred Steele arrive in Nice, France (the French Riviera).

June 15: Joan and Alfred Steele travel from the French Rivera to Rome, Italy. During their visit in Rome, they stay at the Hassler Hotel.

Mid-June: Joan receives notice from Columbia Pictures to report to Los Angeles, California no later than August 8th to begin production on "Autumn Leaves." The production was scheduled to begin on July 15th, however, was delayed due to Joan's honeymoon in Europe.

Late June: Joan and Alfred Steele travel to Capri, Italy. During their visit, they are guests of Robert Hornstein. Also, while in Capri, Alfred gives Joan a ten-inch diamond leaf pin.

Late June: It's reported that Joan says she plans to retire from films after she completes "Autumn Leaves."

Early July: Joan and Alfred Steele travel back to America following their honeymoon in Europe.

July 3: "Parade" magazine publishes an article entitled "Is Joan Crawford Through With Hollywood?" The article contains an interview with Joan whereby she states "I quit movies." and "This marriage means more to me than any picture Hollywood can come up with."

July 8: Joan's son, Christopher, is apprehended in the evening by police in Santa Monica, California. Christopher had ran away from home a few hours earlier, and the police were notified. When he was apprehended by police, he told them that he was attempting to get hired as a cabin boy on a ship.

Mid-July: Joan and Alfred depart France for America aboard the U.S.S. United States.

July 18: Joan and Alfred Steele arrive in Manhattan, New York, following their trip aboard the U.S.S. United States from France.

Mid-July: Designer Jean Louis meets with Joan in Manhattan, New York in regard to her wardrobe for "Autumn Leaves."

Mid-July: Joan places her Brentwood house on the market for sale. This is the second time Joan places the house for sale, the first being in February.

Mid-July: Joan and Alfred have dinner at The Colony restaurant in Manhattan, New York. On the same evening Ethel Merman is dining at the restaurant.

July 26: Joan travels to Los Angeles, California from Manhattan, New York to begin pre-production on "Autumn Leaves," and to visit with her children.

Late July: Actors Kerwin Matthews and John Ericson are the reported leading contenders to star opposite Joan in "Autumn Leaves."

Late July: Joan has dinner with friends at 21 in Manhattan, New York.

July 28: Joan's son, Christopher, and another student, David R. Dyer, run away from Mount Lowe Military Academy in Altadena, California. The two are picked up a short time later approximately five miles from the school by a sheriff's deputy and returned to the school. Christopher tells authorities that he ran away because he was homesick and lonely for Joan, who had been on her honeymoon in Europe for the last month. Additionally, the pair say they were walking to Van Nuys, where Dyer's home is located. This is Christopher's forth runaway attempt from the school within the last two months. Joan says shortly afterword that she feels Christopher is a boy with an over-active imagination and gets carried away with ideas, like the one he had to be a sailor at 12.

August: Joan and Alfred Steele begin apartment searching in Manhattan, New York.

Early August: Alfred Steele authorize the purchase of a new plane for Pepsi-Cola travels.

Early August: Joan and Alfred Steele are the subject of a series of printed rumors and reports, which involve the pair looking into buying a chateau in Connecticut; forming their own independent film production company; and that Joan is contemplating adopting a child from an Italian orphanage.

Early August: Joan and Alfred Steele are interviewed by columnist Louella Parsons.

August 1: Joan and Alfred Steele arrive in Los Angeles, California.

August 2: Pre-production begins for the film "Autumn Leaves." Joan reportedly has three dressing rooms at the studio converted into one living/work space for her and Alfred to use during the film's production.

August 7-10: "Female On The Beach" is released theatrically in selected cities in America.

August 8: Joan and Alfred allegedly have a fight at her Brentwood house, which results in Alfred leaving the house and flying back to Manhattan, New York. Following this argument, Joan allegedly tells a few friends about the incident and the situation is leaked to the press. For the next few days Joan and Alfred are unable to be reached for comment by various press agents and columnists.

August 11: Joan dismisses rumors that she and Alfred Steele are separated. According to the rumor, friends of Joan had said the couple had been arguing continuously for the past few weeks, and the situation cultivated when Alfred had returned to New York in a "huff" following a quarrel the two had at Joan's Brentwood house. Joan explains Alfred's sudden departure due to pressing business reasons.

August 13: William Haines hosts a black-tie party in honor of Joan and Alfred Steele at Romanoff's restaurant in Los Angeles, California. Due to Alfred's return to Manhattan, he does not attend. In his absence, Joan is escorted to the party by screenwriter Mel Dinnelli. The party is hosted in the penthouse of the restaurant, and the owning over the terrace was rolled back to showcase the night's sky. Among the party's guests is actress Marion Davies.

Mid-August: Joan has dinner with "Autumn Leaves" director Robert Aldrich at Lucey's restaurant in Hollywood.

August 15: Production begins on the film "The Way We Are," later re-titled "Autumn Leaves."

August 19: Alfred Steele travels to Los Angeles, California.

August 20: "Female On The Beach" is nationally released theatrically in America.

Late August: Joan removes her Brentwood house from the real estate sales market. Joan had placed the house for sale in July. She had previously placed the house for sale in February 1955, before removing it from the market approximately a month later.

September 15: Joan visits with former child star, and co-star, Jackie Coogan on the set of "Autumn Leaves."

September 17: Joan hosts a party at the Oyster House on La Cieniga Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. The party is in honor of Cliff Robertson, her co-star in "Autumn Leaves."

September 24: Alfred Steele travels to Los Angeles, California.

September 29: Joan suffers from a bout of back pain due to sciatic neuralgia, and is unable to work on the set of "Autumn Leaves" for several days.

October 1: It's announced that Joan will play the lead in the film "The Story of Esther Costello," which is slated to begin production in the spring of 1956. However, it's reported that the character Joan is to portray will need to be re-written to be more sympathetic to the audience. Joan's salary for the film will be $200,000.

Early October: Joan and daughter Christina attends a performance of "Ice Follies."

October 4: Joan hosts a party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in honor of Jackie Cooper celebrating his return to Hollywood in television show "The People's Choice."

October 14: Joan begins feeling feverish following filming scenes in water at Zuma beach for the film "Autumn Leaves." Additionally, after the beach scene, Joan returns to her dressing room at Columbia Pictures studios to find Alfred Steele with a gift of a diamond bracelet.

Mid-October: It's announced that joining Joan in the film "The Story of Esther Costello" will be Rossano Brazzi and Susan Strasberg. Strasberg was later replaced with Heather Sears.

October 17: Joan collapses on the set of "Autumn Leaves." She has a high fever and is diagnosed with a bronchial infection. After she collapses, she goes to lie down in her dressing room before leaving the studio for the day.

October 18: Joan returns to the set of "Autumn Leaves" following her collapsing the day before. Joan returns due to the film being behind schedule.

October 23: Joan sustains a chipped shoulder bone during the filming of "Autumn Leaves." The fracture occurs during the filming of a scene between Joan and Cliff Robertson, in which their characters engage in a fight. Joan is taken to Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital by her doctor, John McDonald, for x-rays, which confirmed the fracture. As a result, Joan wears her arm in a sling until the fracture heals.

October 24: Alfred Steele travels from Los Angeles, California to Manhattan New York.

Late October: Production is completed on the film "Autumn Leaves."

October 28 (#1): The film "Queen Bee" is theatrically released in selected cities.

October 28 (#2): Joan departs Los Angeles, California to begin a tour around the country to promote the film "Queen Bee." Among the approximately ten cities included on Joan's tour is Chicago, Illinois; Boston, Massachusetts; New Orleans, Louisiana; Miami, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Detroit, Michigan. Accompanying Joan on her tour is Pepsi-Cola executive James Murphy, who Alfred Steele assigned to travel with Joan during her tour.

October 30: Joan arrives in Chicago, Illinois to promote "Queen Bee." While visiting Chicago, Joan stays at the Ambassador Hotel. Alfred Steele meets Joan in Chicago as they are both on business trips, and the couple later meets again in Miami, Florida during the Carbonated Beverage Convention.

Early November: Joan cancels a previously scheduled appearance on the television show "Person To Person," with Edward Murrow.

November 2: Joan promotes her film "Queen Bee" in St. Louis, Missouri. While in St. Louis, Joan also visits the South Side Day Nursery.

November 4: Joan promotes her "Queen Bee" in Memphis, Tennessee.

November 4: "Queen Bee" is nationally released theatrically across much of America. The remaining areas of the country premiere the film over the next two weeks.

November 5: Joan arrives, via train, at Union Station in New Orleans, Louisiana at 9:30 am. Joan is in New Orleans to promote the release of her film "Queen Bee," which opens the 9th of November in New Orleans. Also arriving by train is former American President Harry S. Truman, and Joan's arrival reportedly overshadows that of President Truman. During her visit, Joan stays at the Roosevelt Hotel.
After Joan's arrival, she attends a luncheon in her honor at a restaurant in the city's French Quarter. The luncheon is sponsored by the National Federation of Temple Brotherhoods. Also attending the luncheon is former American President Harry S. Truman.

November 6: Joan travels from New Orleans, Louisiana to Jacksonville, Florida to promote her film "Queen Bee."

November 9: Joan travels from Jacksonville, Florida to Miami, Florida. During her visit, Joan meets Alfred Steele, who is already in Miami for the Carbonated Beverage Convention, and the couple stay at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.

November 10: Joan and Alfred are given a six-month anniversary party.

November 18: Joan promotes her film "Queen Bee" in Detroit Michigan.

November 19: Joan and Alfred Steele travel from Detroit, Michigan to Chicago, Illinois. While in Chicago, Joan purchases six dresses and six hats from Bramson's store for her daughter, Christina.

November 21: Joan travels from Chicago, Illinois to Portland, Oregon, arriving at 7:30 am. During her visit in Portland, Joan stays at the Multnomah Hotel.
Upon her arrival in Portland, Joan meets with mayor Fred L. Peterson at his office, whereby Mayor Peterson bestows Joan with the Key to the City and a bouquet of roses. Afterword, Mayor Peterson and Joan make a two-hour visit to the Shriner's hospital for crippled children; followed by a luncheon given in Joan's honor at the Multnomah Hotel. In the evening Joan attends an invitational dinner in her honor.

November 22: Alfred Steele testifies in court in regard to the wiretap conspiracy trial of John G. Brody. Brody, an attorney and private investigator, who had wiretapped Alfred's telephone at his Sutton Place apartment in Manhattan. Alfred states during the trial that he never gave Brody permission to tape record his telephone conversations. Brody had tapped Alfred's phone from August to October of 1954. During his investigations, Brody had illegally wiretapped a series of people's telephones without their consent. The wiretap place of operation was raided on February 11th, 1955, and it was discovered the operation had 48,000-60,000 telephone lines on the East side of Manhattan at its mercy for eavesdropping.

November 23: Joan travels from Portland, Oregon to San Francisco, California. During her visit in San Francisco, Joan stays at the Fairmont Hotel. Shortly afterword, Joan later travels on to Los Angeles, California for Thanksgiving on the 24th.

November 24: Joan spends Thanksgiving with her four children and Alfred Steele at her house in Brentwood. According to Joan's daughter, Christina, this is the first time she meets Alfred Steele.

November 26: According to Joan's daughter, Christina, Joan has all four of the children fitted at the Brentwood house for new clothes for the family's trip to Switzerland in December. Additionally, the three girls are fitted for fur coats.

December: It's announced that Joan has agreed to play the lead in the film "Storm In The Sun." The film is to be directed and co-produced by her "Autumn Leaves" director, Robert Aldrich. The film is slated to begin production in early 1956.

December: The title of Joan's most recent production, "The Way We Are," is changed to "Autumn Leaves." The title is taken from the Nat King Cole song played throughout the film.

Early December: Alfred Steele's daughter, Sally, is married to John Comer in Tokyo, Japan. Joan and Alfred were scheduled to fly to Tokyo on November 30th to attend the ceremony, however, they cancel their plans to attend.

Early December: Joan attends costumer Joseff's annual holiday party in Los Angeles, California.

December 5: Joan's niece, Joan Crawford Lowe, opens in a song and dance production with Joe Howard at the Mayfair Theater in Boston, Massachusetts.

December 8: Joan, her four children and Alfred Steele depart Los Angeles, California, via train, bound for Manhattan, New York.

December 9: Joan, her four children and Alfred Steele stopover in Albuquerque, New Mexico on their way to Manhattan, New York.

December 10: Joan, her four children and Alfred Steele stopover in Chicago, Illinois on their way to Manhattan, New York. While in Chicago, the family has lunch at the Pump Room at the Ambassador Hotel.

December 11: Joan, her four children and Alfred Steele arrive, via train, in Manhattan, New York. Due to the the limited size of Alfred's apartment on Sutton Place, the family stays at the Hampshire House while in Manhattan. In the evening, the family has dinner at Voisin.

December 12: Joan, her children and Alfred Steele, have lunch at 21 in Manhattan, New York. In the evening, Joan and Alfred attend the Manhattan premiere of the film "The Rose Tattoo," whereby Joan serves as an usherette. Actress Helen Hayes serves as chief usher. The premiere also serves as a benefit for the Actor's Studio in New York. During the performance, Joan and Alfred sit in the orchestra seats, and are served Champagne. Also attending the premiere is Joan's ex-husband, Franchot Tone, for whom she gives a kiss.

December 13: Joan, her children and Alfred Steele attend a performance of the play "The Lark" at the Longacre Theater in Manhattan New York.

December 14: Joan takes her children on a shopping trip to Saks, Bergdoff-Goodman and Mark Cross in Manhattan, New York. In the evening, the family has dinner at 21.

December 16: Joan, her four children and Alfred Steele sail aboard the Queen Mary from Manhattan, New York to Cherbourg, France.

December 17: Joan appears on the NBC radio program "Monitor," in a previously recorded interview.

December 20: Joan, her four children and Alfred Steele arrive in Cherbourg, France. Upon arrival in France, the family boards a train to continue them on to St. Moritz, Switzerland.

December 22: Joan, her four children and Alfred Steele arrive, via train, in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

December 25 (#1): Joan spends Christmas day with her four children and Alfred Steele at the Palace Hotel in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

December 25 (#2): Joan narrates "The Littlest Stork" on radio, in a previously recorded narration.

December 31: Joan, her four children and Alfred Steele attend a New Years Eve gala at the Palace Hotel in St. Moritz, Switzerland.