In 2018, this Webmaster met and interviewed artist Don Bachardy in his Californian home. During the interview, Mr. Bachardy told me, in detail, about his experience drawing Joan, some of which I will share below.
On February 9th, 1974, Mr. Bachardy arrived at Joan's apartment and was greeted at the door by Joan. She was at home by herself. She wore no makeup, and her natural hair was pulled back and held in place with a rubber band. Mr. Bachardy said she looked fantastic in this natural state.
Joan showed him into her living room and asked him to begin setting up his supplies while she finished preparing herself to sit for the drawing.
Mr. Bachardy said Joan returned to the living room a short while later wearing a "huge, balloon wig," and she had applied eye makeup and lipstick. Joan sat down and Mr. Bachardy begin drawing. Mr. Bachardy told me that he draws exactly what he sees, and that the wig Joan wore looked very much like a wig and there was no way for him to mask that in his work.
During the process, Mr. Bachardy said Joan seemed to be anxious, and was constantly getting up and coming back. He said her eyes held a lot of fear. When he completed the drawing, Joan looked at it, but she didn't like it, and refused to sign and date it (the customary finishing touch on Bachardy's celebrity drawing). Instead, she said she would sit for a second drawing.
Joan excused herself and came back a few minutes later with her wig freshened up. She also seemed to have composed herself to the degree that her eyes looked more confident and less worried.
Mr. Bachardy completed the second drawing, and Joan was much more pleased with it than the first one. However, instead of only signing her name, Joan signed the drawing "like a fan photo," writing, "Thank you, Don, dearest friend, Joan." Mr. Bachardy asked her to please also date her signature, and she wrote, "Feb 9th, 1974 - Still with love."
According to Mr. Bachardy, the elaborate signature was inappropriate on the work, and prevented him from exhibiting it in his show. A friend told Joan that her drawing was omitted from the show. Mr. Bachardy later called her to explain.
Shortly before this drawing sitting, Joan begin to receive a series of death threats by a telephone caller. This scared Joan, and she ultimately installed a series of elaborate locks and an electronic alarm on her door which was operated by a switch in a nearby coat closet. The alarm was so sensitive, that others who I have interviewed who visited Joan during this time in her life said Joan would rush them in and out of the apartment's door because the alarm would sound if the door was opened for too long. This may account for the fear Mr. Bachardy observed in Joan's eyes, and captured in the first drawing.
Mr. Bachardy's December 27, 1973 letter to Joan asking to draw her can be read here.
Don Bachardy's second drawing of Joan Crawford
Don Bachardy's first drawing of Joan Crawford