THE CONCLUDING CHAPTER OF CRAWFORD
At a reception at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Sisisky
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July 29th, 1967 Petersburg, Virginia Plant Dedication
“Joan Crawford Special Guest For Plant Rites” By The Progress-Index, July 13th, 1967
Actress Joan Crawford will dedicate the new $1 million plant of the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Petersburg Inc. Norman Sisisky, president and treasurer, announced today.
Miss Crawford will arrive here July 27 for the dedication at 10:30 a.m. July 29. The actress is a member of the board of directors of the Pepsi-Cola Co. The Petersburg firm is a franchised bottler of the Pepsi Co. Inc. of New York.
A number of Pepsi-Cola Co. officials, including the president and chairman of the board, along with other notables, will attend the event.
Sisisky said details of the dedication program will be announced later.
The new plant, located on what was formally Mock Orange Field, West Washington Street and Battersea Lane, has been in operation several weeks and offices were moved from the old location at 2030 W. Washington St. early in June.
The location is an eight-plus acre tract purchased from the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and the plant is served by a siding off ACL’s main track which crosses West Washington Street near the site.
The building, described by Sisisky as “one of the most modern bottling plants in the world” and by the public as “a big asset to the city,” is a one-story structure set back a considerable distance from West Washington Street and the area landscaped.
The plant is completely automatic and Sisisky, who announced previously that some of the machinery is the first of its kind ever put into a bottling plant, says everything is working smoothing.
The new plant is not only twice the size of the old one, but the large tract permits expansion and the structure was designed to allow for future growth, it as production capabilities of 48 million bottles per year with one shift.
In addition to Pepsi-Cola, the company bottles Diet Pepsi, Kickapoo Joy Juice, Teem, Sun Crest Orange and NuGrape.
In conjunction with the Pepsi-Cola Co. the Lee Distributing Co. distributors of Budweiser, Busch Bavarian and Michelob Beers has a warehouse and distribution center at the site. The Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Petersburg has distribution centers in Emporia and Blackstone.
“Miss Crawford, Governor Godwin Open New Pepsi Plant Here” by The Progress-Index, July 29th, 1967
The new Pepsi-Cola Plant was dedicated today in ceremonies at the plant, highlighted by the appearance of Virginia Governor Mills E. Godwin and Hollywood actress Joan Crawford.
Upon introduction of the guests and a short speech of appreciation by Godwin, an eight-foot bottle and huge opener were brought to the dignitaries stand and the new plant was officially opened.
After the dedication, the troop of dignitaries went on a tour of the plant, followed by the spectators.
Approximately, 2800 persons turned out while dignitaries w. Roy Smith, House of Delegates member; James B. Somerall, Pepsi-Cola President; Christina Crawford, oldest daughter of the actress; Lt. Gov Fred G. Pollard, and John Repco, vice president in charge of the Pepsi-Cola’s Eastern office, led a troop of other dignitaries through opening ceremonies.
After the official dedication, the Escorts, a local rock and roll band, the Art Panoussis Combo and the music of Earl Gray were featured.
An award commenting the excellent job turned in by local plant head Norman Sisisky was presented to him by the President of Pepsi-Cola, Somerall.
The bands led the entertainment of the day, with master of ceremonies being Harvey Hudson, a disc jockey from WLEE radio in Richmond. Other stations present were WSSV from Petersburg and WHAP from Hopewell.
The plant, which can fill and cap 600 bottles of the name beverage per minute, is in full operation and will be among the top three Pepsi producers on the east coast, having the most modern facilities throughout the chain.
"Actress Crawford's Star Shone On Petersburg Visit" by Larry Hall, August 29th, 2007 (Retrospective)
In one of her last interviews, screen legend Bette Davis dismissed her archrival, Joan Crawford, as more of a "glamourpuss" than an actress.
But Davis never saw Crawford's star turn in Petersburg as the quintessential aging movie queen.
Crawford was in Petersburg in 1967 for the dedication of a $1.4-million Pepsi-Cola Co. bottling plant.
As the widow of former Pepsi President Alfred Steele, her fourth husband, Crawford had become a major stockholder and director of the company. She also assumed a high-profile position as the company's unpaid goodwill ambassador.
Playing the part of "Joan Crawford, Star," the actress traveled the country representing Pepsi at ceremonial events.
In conjunction with Crawford's three-day Petersburg visit, local Pepsi officials arranged with Columbia Pictures for a special preview showing of Crawford's latest movie, "Berserk."
The July 27 screening at Walnut Mall Theater was for invited guests only. The film became Crawford's next-to-last movie and was one in a series of late-career horror films she made.
"Berserk," starring Crawford as the no-nonsense ringmaster-owner of a traveling circus with more grisly murders than paying customers, was set for general release early the next year.
"When Joan Crawford makes an entrance, spotlights aren't essential," the next day's Richmond News Leader said of her arrival for the 8:15 p.m. showing.
"A sizable crowd had been enticed, via loudspeaker, to line the driveway and, on prompting, give out with appropriate cheers. This artificial stimulus didn't produce much result -- but when Miss Crawford stepped from her limousine, everyone knew that a startling personality had arrived."
Ignoring the lack of spontaneity, Crawford beamed and waved as if she were at a gala Hollywood premiere with thousands of fawning fans vying for her autograph.
She was accompanied by her 28-year-old adopted daughter, Christina, who later penned "Mommie Dearest," a tell-all book about their stormy mother-daughter relationship.
"The 'Star' marched up the red carpet, greeting to right and left," The News Leader continued. "There is only one way to describe her: She's a grand pro."
After the screening, Crawford turned on the charm full wattage at a reception in the mall. With an air of gentility, she sipped Pepsi straight from the bottle.
"She is out to sell the product -- and she is a terrific public-relations expert," The News Leader said. With practiced graciousness, "she kissed, smiled at, and hugged well-wishers."
Asked about her views on declining sexual morality, Crawford was quick with a quip. "Sex is here to stay, honey," she answered with the same hard edge she gave many of her screen portrayals.
In the middle of the festivities, a store window filled with shoes caught the star's eye. The store was closed, but a key fetched by mall management instantly changed that.
Crawford snatched two pairs of $4.99 sandals. "I pay $125 a pair usually," she said. She grabbed two handbags before leaving and offhandedly said, "Send me the bill."
The day after the preview, Crawford toured Fort Lee and visited patients at Kenner Army Hospital there.
"In the hospital corridor, the actress leaned against the wall and wept, accepted a tissue, shoved on a pair of dark glasses and strode into the next ward," The Times-Dispatch reported.
The next day's plant-dedication ceremony ended Crawford's Petersburg stay, and she was off to Dallas for another plant opening.
When "Berserk" opened in New York City in January 1968, The New York Times was less than complimentary. The reviewer found Crawford's performance unconvincing and unsympathetic.
"Even a last-minute, mother-love injection doesn't thaw Miss Crawford's portrayal of a ruthless iceberg who, one feels, gets what she deserves. However, she is professional as usual and certainly the shapeliest ringmaster ever."
At the screening of "Berserk" at the Walnut Mall Theater in Petersburg, Virginia
Promotional materials from the Petersburg, Virginia Pepsi-Cola plant dedication