THE CONCLUDING CHAPTER OF CRAWFORD

Television (1970 - 1975)

"The Virginian" (1970)
Character: Stephanie White
Episode: "Nightmare"
Duration: 90 minutes
Premiered: January 21, 1970 (NBC)

Episode synopsis:
Stephanie White (Joan Crawford) is a former palm reader turned married lady of the house. After a month of marriage, her husband, John (Michael Conrad), plans to make a last will and testament leaving Stephanie his entire estate, which includes the family business. News of this angers his younger brother, Billy (Steve Sandor), and they argue. That night someone tampers with the wheels on John's wagon, which causes it to flip over the following day, injuring John to the point that he will never walk again. The Virginian (James Drury) helps the couple after the accident, and attempts to be vigilant in protecting them. Stephanie becomes her husband's nursemaid, while an old acquaintance, Frank (Warren J. Kemmerling), begins making inappropriate advances towards her.
Later one night, Stephanie goes outside to investigate strange noises, and while she's outside a fire suddenly breaks out in the house.
Stephanie rushes back in, but is unable to save John. However, she manages to get a glimpse of the person who set the fire as the perpetrator runs past her on his way out of the house, which Stephanie believes is John's brother, Billy. While recuperating from the ordeal, Stephanie is given a note supposedly by Frank asking her to meet him, claiming he has proof of Billy's guilt in John's death. When Stephanie goes to Frank, she discovers it's a trap and she and Frank are shot at by an unknown person, with Frank being hit and killed. Despite her pleas of innocence, the sheriff arrests Stephanie and charges her with Frank's murder. Believing she murdered Frank due to thinking he killed John.
Stephanie stands trial, however, due to the evidence against her, and the certainty that she'll be found guilty, The Virginian convinces her to plead 'not guilt by reason of insanity' until he can prove her innocence. The Virginian decides the best way to prove her innocence is to give Billy the chance to attempt to kill her again. The Virginian's plans works, and when it's time to transfer Stephanie from jail to a mental hospital, Billy arrives to take Stephanie.
Instead, Billy uses the opportunity to attempt to kill Stephanie. He taking Stephanie back to her house and plans to set it on fire with her in it, with the claim she escaped his custody. The Virginian discovers Billy has taken Stephanie, and tracks them back at her house. In the house, the Virginian finds Stephanie and gives her a gun for protection. After he is knocked out by Billy, Billy attempts to shoot Stephanie, but she shoots him first with a gun the Virginian had given her. The episode closes with Stephanie working on the books of her late husband's business and thanking The Virginian for his help in saving her life.

Cast & Crew:
Director: Robert Gist
Written By: Gerry Day and Bethel Leslie
Producer: Universal

Joan Crawford - "Stephanie White"
James Drury - "The Virginian"
Michael Conrad - "John White"
Steve Sandor - "Billy White"
Warren J. Kemmerling - "Frank"

Production:
Joan began filming this project on November 17th, 1969 on the Universal Studios Lot in Los Angeles, California.
During the filming, Joan resided her in bungalow on the lot.
One day during filming, Joan and James Drury stopped production as so they could take a telephone call from seven American GIs in Vietnam who had requested to talk to some movie stars.
The episode was released as a theatrical feature in some parts of Europe in 1970, with the title of "Nightmare."
This was Joan's second collaboration with Sara Lane. Lane had previously co-starred with Joan in the film "I Saw What You Did" in 1965.
This was Joan's final collaboration with director Robert Gist. Joan had previously been directed by Gist on the pilot "Royal Bay" in 1963, on her two appearances on "The Hollywood Palace," and was scheduled to be directed by Gist in "You'll Hang My Love" in 1967 before to the project's financing difficulties caused it to never begin filming.






"The Tim Conway Comedy Hour" (1970)
Episode: Season 1, Episode 3
Duration: 50 minutes
Premiered: September 30th, 1970 (ABC)

Episode Synopsis: Joan Crawford guest stars along with Dick Martin in a variety of comedy sketches. Tim Conway opens the show by introducing Joan and his other guest star, Dick Martin.
In Joan's first sketch, she portrays "Lilian Abbot," a stage actress who is stuck with an enamored fan (Tim Conway) who doesn't want to leave her dressing room. After trying several tactics including signing his autograph book and telling him she needs to change her clothes, she entices him to leave by having him follow a picture of herself out of the room. He sneaks back in for a moment to leave an autographed photo of himself.
In Joan's next sketch, she's a passenger on the "Last Choo Choo To China." She, along with with her fellow passengers (Conway and Martin), are all attempting to find a passenger carrying either microfilm, the Klopman Diamond, or the Maltese Falcon.

In closing, Tim Conway recites an antidote of when Joan sent him a congratulatory letter on the birth of his 6th child.

Production: Joan filmed her scenes for this program during the week of September 7th, 1970.






"The Joan Crawford Film Festival" (1973)
Network: WNEW-TV (CBS) (Channel 5, New York)
Duration:
Premiered: June 1973, repeated in October 1975


Synopsis: Joan appears as herself in a series of introductions for a five-day festival of her films on channel 5 (WNEW-TV) in New York.
The festival begins on June 10th, 1973 with "Rain." Before each film, Joan appears on screen to introduce it, and tells a few words about it.

The film festival schedule line-up was as follows:
June 10th: "Rain" (1932)
June 11th: "Mildred Pierce" (1945)
June 12th: "Humoresque" (1946)
June 13th: "Possessed" (1947)
June 14th: "Flamingo Road" (1949)

In October 1975, channel 5 ran another "Joan Crawford" film festival week from October 20th - 24th, with a repeat of Joan's introductions and with the same film line-up as in June 1973.

Production:
Joan agreed to appear for the film festival under the conditions that she be furnished with her own lighting man, William Klages, that she be picked up and returned home in a limousine and that channel 5 airs promotions for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.






"The Sixth Sense" (1972)
Character: Joan Fairchild
Episode: "Dear Joan, We're Going To Scare You To Death!"
Duration: 60 minutes
Premiered: September 30, 1972 (ABC)

Episode synopsis:
After crashing her car into a ditch to avoid a dog on the road, Joan Fairchild (Joan Crawford) seeks refuge at a nearby house which is inhabited by a group of people exploring ESP (Scott Hylands, David Ladd, Martine Bartlett, Lenore Kasdorf), with the group headed by Jason (Hylands).
When Joan accidentally stumbles upon this, she is alarmed and begins to wonder the true intentions of the group. After having a vision of her deceased daughter, "Diana" (Anne Lockhart), Joan decides to leave, however, finds herself held prisoner, locked in her room by the group. Joan's attention turns to helping a deaf girl named "Lori" (Kelly Jean Peters), who is also in the house. Joan feels Lori is also in danger by the group, having seen her drowning in an ESP vision.
The group decides to use their ESP talents to attempt to scare Joan to death by making her see visions of her dead daughter. After Joan manages to escape her room, she discovers Lori has attempted to obtain help from neighbors by rowing a boat across a lake behind the house, however, the row boat is slowly sinking into the lake due to a hole punched into the boat by Jason. Joan uses ESP to help Lori find a life jacket hidden on the boat, thus saving Lori. The group begins to argue when Paul (David Ladd) refuses to be part of the plan to kill Joan. He and Jason engage in a physical fight, which Paul wins by throwing Jason over a second story banister. The police are summoned, and the group is arrested, with the exception of Paul, who saved Joan and Lori from the group's ill intentions.

Cast & Crew:
Director: John Newland
Written By: Anthony Lawrence, Jonathan Stone
Producer: Universal

Joan Crawford - "Joan Fairchild"
Scott Hylands - "Jason"
David Ladd - "Paul"
Kelly jean Peters - "Lori"
Martine Bartlett - "Carrie"
Anne Lockhart - "Diana Fairchild"

Production:
Filming took place on the Universal Lot in Los Angeles, California during July 1972. While on the lot, Joan was visited by Alfred Hitchcock and Rock Hudson.
This was Joan's final acting performance.
There are two versions of this episode available. One being the full-length complete episode for "The Sixth Sense" series, and the other being a shorter, approximately 30-minutes version, edited for syndication version as part of the "Night Gallery" series.

In the final moments of the episode, Joan sits down with the show's main character, Gary Collins (who didn't appear in the episode) to talk about ESP, and shares a story about her own premonition of her dog falling prior to the dog falling from the second story banister in her New York apartment.
The episode closes with Joan wishing Gary a goodnight, and he simply says "Goodnight, Joan" before the screen fades to black, thus ending
Joan Crawford's 47 years of acting.






"Journey To The Unknown" (1973)
Character: Hostess
Duration: 86 minutes
Filmed: August 29th, 1972 (Joan's hostess scenes)
Premiered: 1973 (Earliest documented date is February 11th, 1973)

Synopsis:
Joan serves as the hostess in this made for television film, which is composed of two prior episodes from the series' first season. Joan opens the film with a short narration and introduction of "Matakitas Is Coming" (Starring Vera Miles), then an introduction to "The Last Visitor" (Starring Patty Duke), with a final summation from Joan of the stories.


Synopsis of "Matakitas Is Coming":
Mystery writer June Wiley (Vera Miles) is researching the 1927 murder of a young librarian which occurred in the same library where she is conducting her research, and exactly 41 years to the hour that the murder occurred. June becomes so interested in studying the case that she doesn't hear the closing bell and becomes locked in the building. While trying to locate someone to help, June finds a young librarian named Tracy who claims to not know an alternate way out of the library. June soon begins hearing loud, heavy footsteps echoing throughout the building and the young librarian keeps disappearing and reappearing. June attempts to use the telephone to call for help and realizes that she has somehow been transported back to that September night in 1927. Later, June discovers that Tracy is the young library who died in 1927 and the plan is to sacrifice June to the devil.


Synopsis of "The Last Visitor":
Barbara King (Patty Duke) is recovering from a broken love affair and nervous breakdown, and goes on vacation alone to the English Coast, and becomes the last guest of the season at a seaside hotel. One night she is awakened to find a man standing over her bed. Barbara runs for help and soon leads other residents to her room to investigate. Barbara suspects it is one of the tenants staying next door, and her room is broken into again the following day while he is gone.
The hotel's owner, Joan Walker (Kay Walsh), admits to Barbara that it is her former husband coming into her room, that he has mental troubles and had to be committed. Barbara helps Mrs. Walker replace the hotel locks to keep her ex husband from entering, however, they later find a smoking pipe left in a room and realize he has came back, even after the locks were changed. One night while in bed, Barbara sees the figure in her bedroom again, and throws a lamp at them. When she turns on the light, she finds it's Mrs. Walker dressed as her husband. It's revealed later that Mrs. Walker's husband had died years prior and that she had been dressing up as him and pretending he was ill as a means of coping with his absence.



Cast & Crew:
Director: Michael Lindsay-Hogg ("Matakitas Is Coming"
Written by: Robert Heverly (Episode: "Matakitas Is Coming"), Alfred Shaughnessy (Episode: "The Last Visitor")
Producer: Hammer Films Production LTD (United Kingdom)

Joan Crawford - "Hostess" 
Vera Miles "June Wiley" (Segment: "Matakitas Is Coming")
Leon Lisses - "Andros Matakitas" (Segment: "Matakitas Is Coming")
Lynn Pinkney - "Tracy"
Patty Duke - "Barbara King" (Segment: "The Last Visitor")
Kay Walsh - "Joan Walker" (Segment: "The Last Visitor")
Sally James - "Peggy" (Segment: "The Last Visitor")

Production:
This television film was produced by Hammer Films in the United Kingdom. According to documentation in Joan's account with The William Morris Agency, Joan recorded her appearance for this project on August 29th, 1972 at the WOR-TV Recording Studios in Manhattan, New York. Therefore, this project would technically be Joan's last professional assignment for a television show or film. "The Sixth Sense" had been filmed in July 1972. Joan was paid $5,000 for her services on "Journey To The Unknown."






"Easter Island" (aka "Isla de Pascua," Chile title) (Documentary)
Network: PBS (1975)
Duration: 26 minutes
Premiered: 1967 (Chile); 1968 (America, Touring Art Exhibit); February 2nd, 1975 (America, PBS Network)


Synopsis: Joan narrates the American version of this documentary detailing the history of Easter Island.

Production:
The documentary was written and directed by Jose Gomez-Sicre, and produced by The Division of Visual Arts Department of Cultural Affairs.
The original Latin narration is by Felicia Montealegre.


Webmaster's Note: Based upon my research, I have discovered this was recorded much earlier than the 1975 PBS television air date. After searching through records, it appears this documentary was originally shown in America in late 1968 as part of a traveling art exhibit which included an eight-ton statue from the island. The exhibit was entitled "Easter Island: The Mystery of The Pacific," which was prepared by the Pan American Union, which is part of the Smithsonian Institute. The Smithsonian Institute sponsored the traveling exhibit across America for the next several years. It is possible, however not yet confirmed, that Joan recorded her narration for this documentary as early as 1967.