JOAN CRAWFORD d1977. American actress in film, television and theatre. She started as a dancer in travelling theatrical companies before debuting on Broadway. She was signed to a motion picture contract by MGM in 1925. Initially frustrated by the size and quality of her parts, Crawford began a campaign of self-publicity and became nationally known as a flapper by the end of the 1920s. She often played hardworking young women who find romance and financial success. These "rags-to-riches" stories were well-received by depression-era audiences and were popular with women. Crawford became one of Hollywoods most prominent movie stars and one of the highest paid women in the United States, but her films began losing money and by the end of the 1930s she was labelled "box office poison". After an absence of nearly two years from the screen, she staged a comeback by starring in Mildred Pearce (1945), for which she won the Academy Award for best actress. In 1955, she became involved with the Pepsi Cola Company through her marriage to company president Alfred Steele. After his death in 1959, she was elected to fill his vacancy on the board of directors, but was forcibly retired in 1973. She continued acting in film and television regularly throughout the 1960s (when her performances became fewer). After the release of the British horror film Trog (1970), she retired from the screen. Following a public appearance in 1974, after which unflattering photographs were published, she withdrew from public life and became increasingly reclusive until her death aged 73 on May 10th 1977.
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