"Joan Crawford Is Dead At 69"
By Beth Fallon
"New York Daily News" (May 11th, 1977)

     From centerfold layout: Her first film was a silent, "Pretty Ladies," which was the bee's knees in 1925. She was a $30-a-week chorine in that one. It followed three years later by a roaring Charleston in "Our Dancing Daughters," her first starring vehicle. From that moment on, leggy glamourous Joan Crawford was always a star. She made 80 pictures, won an Oscar, and almost made 'em forget the dancing girl image with which she took her first sensational steps. Later she strode the screen, a dramatic giant. She married three actors, two of them prominent. All three marriages ended in divorce. She married the president of Pepsi-Cola, outlived him, and became a major force in the company's business. She lived her last years in an East Side penthouse, in apparent good health and spirits. Yesterday, at age 69, a heart that has been called both tough and soft stopped. 

     Article: Joan Crawford, who went to Hollywood in 1925 and swiftly became what she always remained - a star - died yesterday morning of natural causes in her Manhattan apartment. She was 69. 

     Miss Crawford, who had lived for several years at 150 E. 69th Street, first in an eight-room apartment, and then in a five-room tower penthouse, was with her housekeeper when she collapsed, according to Gladys Schmidt, sales manager for the building and a friend of the actress. Miss Crawford was pronounced dead by the city Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Lawrence Greenman.

     "She had not been ill, as far as I know," Mrs. Schmidt said in a telephone interview. "I spoke with her only a few days ago, and she was fine, busy as ever. She sent us a gorgeous floral basket for Easter. She was the sweetest and most generous person to everybody."

     She was also one of the handful of legends produced by the Hollywood glamour factory - from her wild Charleston in "Our Dancing Daughters" (1928) to a role in the science fiction spectacle "Trog" (1970).

     In between, the leggy, tough, regal redhead, whose red slash of a mouth and enormous eyes were better than beauty, made 80 films, playing some of the most memorable parts ever created. She was a secretary in "Grand Hotel," the scheming manhunter in "The Women," the terrorized cripple in "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" and the suffering mother in "Mildred Pierce," for which she won an Academy Award in 1945.

     In a retrospective of her films at Town Hall in 1973, she wowed the audience with a gown slit up the thigh and observed that among her favorite roles was that of the neurotic Helen Wright in "Humoresque" with John Garfield.

     "I was a bitch in that, and I love playing bitches. There's a lot of bitch in every woman. There's a lot of bitch in every man, too," she said.

(Webmaster's note: Crawford said this quote regarding her role in "Queen Bee" not "Humoresque")

     The on-screen men in her life included every major star - Gable, Tracy, Cooper, Taylor. Off screen, she married four times, to actors Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Franchot Tone and Phillip Terry (all ended in divorce) and in 1955 to Pepsi-Cola Chairman Alfred N. Steele. He died in 1959. She had four adopted children, all grown.

     When screen roles became infrequent in the 1960s, her stardom went right on, as a spokesman for Pepsi and as a living legend. She made television appearances and appeared, always, groomed to the teeth.

     In one of her last interviews, she said that she would still like any good role - "even a cameo, but I would be billed as a star, I don't think they can take the billing away from me after all these years."

     Nobody ever did.