THE CONCLUDING CHAPTER OF CRAWFORD

The Joan Crawford Chronicle
1977

January: Joan's daughter, Cathy LaLonde, sees Joan for the last time during a visit to Joan's Imperial House apartment. According to Cathy, who says she did not know her mother was ill, Joan looked "ok" and "very beautiful."

January 24: Due to increased back pain, Joan has men from Manhattan Movers install a new bed in her Imperial House apartment.

February 21: Joan has a 12:30 pm appointment for an in-home adjustment of her Meyrowitz-brand eyeglasses.

March 18: Joan has a repairman in her Imperial House apartment to repair her stove.

March 21: The AFI's "Tribute to Bette Davis," and Lifetime Achievement award ceremony to Davis is televised on CBS. Joan had been invited to the ceremony by George Stevens Jr, but declined. Joan reportedly doesn't watch the ceremony, but she is mentioned during the program by producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz.


March 23: For her birthday, Joan receives flowers from her daughter, Christina, and is telephone by daughters, Cathy and Cindy. According to Carleton Varney, Joan stops smoking on or around this date.

March 24: Joan telephones Carl Johnes to thank him for a small gift he had sent her for her birthday.


Late April: Carl Johnes calls Joan and finds her voice to be "unrecognizable." During the telephone call, Joan tells Johnes that she doesn't watch television anymore, and prefers to go to bed early and read her Bible. (Source: "Crawford: The Last Years")

May 4: Joan telephones her interior decorator, Carleton Varney, and inquires about sending out two bedside tables to be re-laminated, and asks Varney how long it would take to be completed and the tables returned. (Source: Carleton Varney)


May 6: Joan gives her pet Shih Tzu, Princess Lotus Blossom to Zora Papich, the sister of Joan's caregiver and friend, Darinka Papich. (Source: Carleton Varney)


May 8: For Mother's Day, Joan receives flowers from daughter Christina, and is telephoned by daughters, Cathy and Cindy. Cathy later reports that Joan sounded "tired" during the telephone call. This is the last time daughters Cathy and Cindy talk to Joan.
During the day, Joan attends to some correspondence, which includes dictating three letters to Darinka Papich, one of which is to an aspiring model, and returning a script to a writer on Staten Island, which had been previously sent to Joan for her consideration. (Source: Carleton Varney)


May 9: Darinka Papich stays with Joan for the entire day and night. (Source: Darinka Papich/Carleton Varney)
According to Darinka Papich, as she is helping Joan to the toilet on this day, she says to Joan; "I think I said something like, 'I want to pray for you', and Joan said 'Oh, Darinka, don't do that." (Source: Darinka Papich/Carleton Varney)
Papich later tells Joan's daughter, Christina, about the exchange. However, in Christina's book "Mommie Dearest," she claims Joan's last words were "Dammit, don't you dare ask God to help me," which Papich later denounced as being a fabrication of this May 9th exchange between she and Joan.


May 10: Joan passes away at around 10:00 am. Joan's long-time fan/friend, Bernice OShatz and caregiver, Darinka Papich, are the only people with her.


May 12: Joan's remains are cremated at Campbell's Funeral Home in Manhattan, New York.

May 13: Joan's funeral is held at Campbell's Funeral Home in Manhattan, New York. Among those who attend are: Joan's adopted children, Christina, Cathy and Cindy, and son, Christopher; Joan's secretaries, Betty Barker and Florence Walsh and Joan's Christian Science practitioner, Marque Campbell.


May 17 (#1): A memorial service for Joan is held at All Souls Unitarian Church in New York. Approximately 550 people attend the 30-minute service, which is arranged by Pepsi-Cola. Anita Loos, Cliff Robertson and Geraldine Brooks give eulogies, and Pearl Bailey sings the hymn "He'll Understand."


May 17 (#2): Joan's last will and testament is read in separate meetings of Joan's heirs at the Drake Hotel in Manhattan, New York. (Sources: Carleton Varney & "Mommie Dearest" by Christina Crawford)


May 18: Joan's will is submitted to the Manhattan Surrogate Court, with a petition by Joan's estate executor requesting permission to open two safe deposit boxes in Joan's name.

May 19: It's announced by the media that Joan's will excludes her daughter, Christina, and son, Christopher.


May 25 - June 7: The Thalia Theater in Manhattan, New York holds a two-week tribute to Joan by screening eight of her films.


Summer: Darinka Papich and Carleton Varney are approached by Christina Crawford and her attorney to request that they testify that Joan was an alcoholic and not in her right state of mind at the time she signed her will in October 1976. Papich and Varney both decline. (Source: Darinka Papich/Carleton Varney)


June 2: Doris Lilly, Joan's neighbor in Imperial House, appears on the NBC show "The Today Show" claiming that she believes Joan committed suicide.

June 14: Dore Freeman, a MGM publicist who was a friend and fan Joan for 40 years, announces he is writing a biography about Joan entitled "Knowing Joan - So Well, Life Was Never Dull."


June 15: Michael Sean O'Shea, a publicist who was a close friend to Joan, announces he has signed a contract with literary agent Howard Rosenstone to write a biography on Joan.


June 20-24: Channel 5 (WNEW-TV) in New York hosts a "Joan Crawford Film Festival" week.


June 24: George Cukor hosts a tribute to Joan at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences building in Los Angeles, California. The tribute begins at 8:00 pm. Among those who attend are; Myrna Loy, John Wayne, Steven Spielberg, Joan's daughter, Christina and Joan's godson, Jack Jones, who sings "Everything I have Is Yours."
The tribute is organized by Cukor and a small committee of Joan's friends and associates, who collectively raised over $10,000 for the tribute's expenses.


July 26: MGM names a building on its Culver City studio lot after Joan. Joan becomes the seventh film actor to have a building named in their honor.


September 21: The first day of the "Bette Davis & Joan Crawford Film Festival," which is held at the Regency Theater in Los Angeles, California. The theater breaks their house record with achieving $4,749 for showings of "Mildred Pierce" and "The Old Maid."


October: Charles Castle's biography "Joan Crawford: The Raging Star" is published by New English Library in England. The biography's cover, and introduction by Castle, make the erroneous claim that the book was authorized by Joan prior to her death. Joan's estate would later file a lawsuit against Castle and the book's publisher. The lawsuit is ultimately settled out of court via a signed agreement between Joan's estate and Castle that no future publications of the book will claim to be "authorized," in addition to a monetary settlement by Castle to Joan's estate.


October: The owner of Joan's Brentwood house, Anthony Newley, lists the house for sale for $759,000.00. Newley had purchased the house from Donald O'Connor, who had purchased it from Joan.


Mid-October: A two-week "Joan Crawford Festival" in Manhattan, New York nets a total of $11,500. (Week one:$6,500. Week two: $5,000)


November 23: It's announced that Joan's daughter, Christina, and son, Christopher, have filed a legal objection in New York's Surrogate Court to the probate of Joan's will.