THE CONCLUDING CHAPTER OF CRAWFORD
Collectibles from the Valdosta, Georgia Pepsi-Cola Plant dedication.
© All original Joan Crawford research and original text herein is property of Webmaster Bryan Johnson and is copyright protected by the United States Copyright Act of 1976. Copyright © Bryan Johnson
June 5th, 1971, Valdosta, Georgia Pepsi-Cola Plant Dedication
"Rapid Rise Of Businessman" by The Thomasville Times-Enterprise - June 3rd, 1971
"While most attention is being centered on the appearance of Joan Crawford in connection with the dedication of the new Pepsi-Cola plant in Valdosta this weekend, the chairman of the company is the whizbang in the business world.
He is Donald M. Kendall, who is credited with the rapid rise not only of the soft drink company but many other phases of the national and worldwide business.
Kendall was a highly decorated naval aviator during World War II and joined the Pepsi firm as a fountain syrup salesman in 1947.
His rise was meteoric and within five years he was vice president and a few months later climbed to be in charge of the firm's overseas operations. He doubled the number of countries in which the drink was marketed. Sales tripled and income soared.
He was made president in 1963. He merged with other companies, including Frito-Lay, the nation's leading snack food marketer.
Two years ago Kendall was named head of the National Alliance of Businessmen by President Nixon. NAB is a non-profit organization of business executives, labor officials and government officers whose goal is locating jobs in the private industry for the hard-core unemployment."
"Actress Dedicating Plant" by The Thomasville Times-Enterprise - June 4th, 1971
Joan Crawford, better known as an actress than a businesswoman, is dedicating a new soft drink bottling plant in Valdosta today and tomorrow.
She was being driven here from the Jacksonville, Florida airport since she refuses to fly on anything but big airliners and that is the closest place they can land, a public relations man for Pepsi-Cola said.
Such large planes cannot land at Valdosta airport.
The Pepsi firm is just one of the many business interests the noted screen and television star has.
The bottling plant being dedicated at the southwest edge will produce 230,400 ten-ounce bottles of the soft drink each eight hours, about 1200 cases an hour.
It’s a big step from the first Pepsi formula created in an old-fashioned drugstore in New Bern, NC, in 1896 by a pharmacist named Caleb (Doc) Bradham.
The little known business life of Joan Crawford began with her marriage to Alfred N. Steele, the late board chairman of Pepsi-Cola, in 1955, when she decided to go with him wherever he went. Now she is a board member of the Pepsi and Frito-Lay Inc. and takes an active role in the business affairs of the firms.
"Joan Crawford Tells Of Snake Scare" by Roy Trefftzs of The Thomasville Times-Enterprise - June 5th, 1971
A lady named Lucille LeSueur, still full of vim in her sixties, bounced into South Georgia and got scared by a snake near Valdosta.
"I let out the biggest damned scream you ever heard," she said at a press conference yesterday afternoon.
Lucille is quite a gal, a big business woman, who jets about 400,000 miles a year opening up new Pepsi-Cola plants around the world.
That's what she was doing in Valdosta yesterday and today, helping Howard Douglas Holt and their partners open up a big new bottling plant which will serve Thomasville and nine and a half counties in South Georgia.
But before becoming a "tycooness" in the soft drink field (she's her best customer with five or six a day) she made quite a splash for herself in front of the cameras starting way back in 1929.
Perhaps you know her best by the name a movie magazine hung on her in a contest. The winning name in 1929 was 'Joan Crawford'.
That's what everybody calls her and have for the last 41 years. But, her mother never did call her Joan. She was always 'Lucille LeSueur' to her.
She calls the soft drink personal "her family" now. When she was making hit movie after hit movie she called her studio "her family".
"I like to think of everyone as my family," she said.
Up close the actress shows some wear and tear from her fast-paced life, but step back a few feet and she is as glamorous as ever.
She charmed her way through newspaper, radio and television interviews for about two hours yesterday afternoon and her only complaint was that the 'blankety-blank' air conditioner was on the blink.
How did she happen to make one of her latest movies, "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" which did just so so at the box office?
[Webmaster's note: It is not true that "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" did "just so so at the box office", it was a box office success]
"I liked the script and it gave me equal billing with Bette Davis." she said. "Good scripts are hard to come by, they just aren't turning them out anymore."
Miss Crawford, as everybody calls her, is on the go continuously and Victor A. Bonomo, president and chief executive officer of Pepsi, who was at her side, agreed.
She said she generally has only time at one of her homes on the East Coast or West Coast to stop for a change of traveling clothes and write 'thank you' notes to the VIPs who help her open another plant and off she goes again.
The 25 newsmen and women at the press conference kept steering her back to her acting career, but she kept saying "Let's talk about Pepsi."
A Valdosta woman writer asked her "If you did have time to take a vacation where would you go and with who would you like to go with?"
She thought a moment and" "Oh, I suppose Cary Grant, and we could go wherever we wanted to."
It was her first time to South Georgia, she said. She bragged about the Holt home, the lush greenery and trees and about seeing a bird nest with a little babies in it. But she complained about the heat and the snake that nearly scared her half to death.
She bragged on the food - "The finest fried chicken I ever tasted."
She said she didn't talk politics or religion.
What does she think about actors who get into politics.
"I can't speak for them," she said, "but I personally don't believe we should use the power of our movie careers to change anything in politics, religion or anything else."
What does she think of the younger actors and actresses? She said she wouldn't judge them.
"A few pictures doesn't make anyone a star," she said. "It takes at least 25 years in the business before anyone can rightfully be called a star."
She herself has made 80 pictures, plus the television work. She said she will make more movies "if I can find the right script".
She's not interested in a television series, but loves to do guest appearances.
How does she keep up the pace? - Up at 3:45 a.m. for movies, up at 4:45 a.m. for television and 9 a.m. when working for Pepsi?
She held up a bottle of the soft drink and that was her answer.
Does she have any romantic interest since her husband Alfred N. Steele, chairman of the board of Pepsi, died in 1959?
"All the beautiful men are all married." she said looking at Bonomo. "But I met the most beautiful one last night. Mr. Holt's nephew, but he's only 18 years old! But seriously, I have no time for romance," she added.
She doesn't feel that women are discriminated against on jobs or in the business world.
"The trouble is," she said, "most women hate a challenge. If you stand tall and work hard there is a place for women. But most women are in a rut, they are happy with their home and children - not that I am against that."
Bonomo interrupted: "We're looking for capable women all the time to fill management jobs."
But other newsmen kept guiding her back to her acting career which started when she was still in her teens after she left Oklahoma and went to Chicago where she started as a dancer in a cafe revue, then on to Detroit where she caught the eye of producer J.J. Schubert who gave her a job in the chorus line of the musical comedy "Innocent Eyes."
Three months later, still dancing under real name Lucille LeSueur, she landed on Broadway.
MGM gave her a screen test and quickly placed her under contract and she went to Hollywood without fanfare.
She did extra work in "Pretty Ladies" and bit part roles followed.
She worked hard and finally it paid off. She was offered a feature film role as a dancer in "Sally, Irene and Mary" and a long-term contract.
That's when the studio decided to change her name and the magazine contest came up with the choice - Joan Crawford.
Her first starring role was in 1929, "Our Dancing Daughters," and her box office appeal zoomed.
She won her Oscar in 1945 in "Mildred Pierce." Other hits followed "Humoresque," "Possessed," "The Damned Don't Cry," "Sudden Fear," "Torch Song," "Johnny Guitar," "Queen Bee," "Autumn Leaves" and on and on.
She married Steele in 1955 and that's when her business life started. She even took to the air and she still hates flying.
Her publicity agent said she won't ride in the smaller company planes but takes the big commercial airlines. But fly she does.
Pepsi's headquarters are in New York and she lives in New York City in an apartment but still has a place in Hollywood.
Asked why Pepsi dropped the sponsorship of the televised "Miss America" pageant, if it was because the production was "too lily white" for the present day youths, she said:
"No, we just figured we had got all the mileage out of it commercially that we could," she said.
"As far as 'lily white' persons go, I think we need more of them."
After a cocktail party, reception and banquet last night she helped dedicate the new plant in Valdosta Industrial Park and was driven back to Jacksonville Saturday.
She caught an airliner back to New York. After two days, she'll be off to Venture, California for moreof the same business which she said she 'just loves'."
Photos from the Valdosta, Georgia Pepsi-Cola Plant dedication.