People asked me to write a little review of my totally overpriced paperback: “Joan Crawford, My Way of Life” that I broke down and bought at auction. It has since been reprinted in the wake of FX show “Feud”. I’ll try my best to remember the main lessons I learned.
Was it worth the money I spent, and do I agree with all the 5 star reviews on Amazon? Eh, not quite. Though there are some paragraphs that are pretty funny, and if anything the tone just confirms the “Mommie Dearest” book wasn’t that far from the truth. I like how she talks about how perfect her marriage was to her last husband, minus the black eyes and constant slappings. In fact I think 3 of her 4 husbands slapped her quite often. The structure and lessons taught in this book is very close to former Miss America — and ventriloquist — Vonda Kay VanDyke and her teen advice book in some aspects. And I won’t lie, there are some good points, but some are just unrealistic for average people.
Joan likes to gloss over stuff, like how her children were raised (she still refers to her youngest girls as “the twins” even though they were in fact born a year apart), her marriages, and the beatings she took as a kid. One story she thought was funny: She divorced 2nd husband Franchot Tone, and since she had miles of monogrammed towels and linens, she had one of her maids unpick every fiber from the “T” in everything with tweezers. Can you image how sore your hands would get? She then tells of how the maid was listening to the radio — almost done with this bullshit task — when she hears over the radio, “Joan Crawford has just married actor Phillip Terry in Las Vegas!” Joan thinks it is hilarious that the maid stormed out and said she quit. Yes Joan, hilarious. What’s even better and she fails to mention is that Joan Crawford wasn’t even her real name; it was name chosen as part of a movie fan magazine contest.
Joan also tells us that her German maid is named Mamacita because Joan was impatient about something and yelled to the next room “Mamacita!” because she couldn’t remember the maid’s name. The maid responded, so the name stuck. Look, here’s Joan on one of her many trips to Africa, totally overdressed for the villagers of course…
And I love how a bulk of the photos are dedicated to just how she and her maid pack and put tissue in all her clothes and then wrap them in plastic for all of her oh-so-busy goodwill trips and Pepsi bottling plant openings. 12 pieces of luggage is totally normal for her. I like how really, the lesson goes: Step 1. Select your outfits Step 2. Get your maid to pack them. See…
Okay, so what lessons do I remember from Joan — besides the fact that she finds a way to tell you how busy she is on every page? Yes, she is that busy, busy enough her own children know to never disturb her without an appointment. Her phone rings off the hook you know, and she plans everything down to the detail.
Let’s see, I totally stock all the food items she lists not to stock: Bread, pasta, avocados, meat, sugar, potatoes, rice, olives, beans, butter, cheese, cream soups….well heck Joan what am I supposed to eat? Oh that’s right: cottage cheese and chicken livers, bacon, eggs benedict, meatballs, and bacon covered in peanut butter ?! Um, okay that seems a little strange.
Surprise parties are always supposed to be a restaurant…always!
Your housework should be done before your husband comes home, he shouldn’t even know what a vacuum cleaner looks like.
You should look nice and be fragrant when your husband comes home, because he probably works with much better looking and younger women than you.
Don’t ever talk about yourself or even so much as speak much when your husband and his friends are around, because nobody cares.
Get a job of some sort, otherwise people will think you are boring.
Sometimes men don’t want their wives to work, because they’re afraid they won’t get as much tang.
Before applying make-up, scrub your face with a washcloth. Really scrub she says. Harder, harder, I said scrub dammit!
Wash your hair in cold water with 6 eggs.
Your foundation make-up should be applied everywhere, neck, boobs, even to the back of the neck!
Everything should be monogrammed. Everything!
Inventory your closet 4 times a year, because you might have dust in the corners.
If you can buy off-the-rack clothing, you are brave, it is so much easier if you design your own clothes and have a dressmaker make them for you. Also, your liner and shoe fabrics should always match.
You probably have a lot of physical flaws. Freak out about them more, have photos taken of you from every angle and get them blown up to 8×10″ glossies. Study them, study how bad your physical appearance is and correct it.
Get a 3-panel mirror, because your ass is probably bigger than you think it is.
Exercise your legs the most, because men are leg watchers.
Scrubbing the floor on your hands and knees is best, because you might miss stuff in the corners.
Thanks Joan I think I’ll manage.