Official Blog of Author MICHAEL THOMAS BARRY.
A blog which discusses varied topics that are related to the authors many books. Michael is a columnist for CrimeMagazine.com and a reviewer for The New York Journal of Books.
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Thursday, May 10, 2012
Joan Crawford Dies (1977) & J Edgar Hoover named Acting Director of FBI (1924)
On this date in 1977, legendary actress Joan Crawford
dies at her New York City apartment.
Born Lucille Fay Le Sueur (her birth year has been
variously recorded as 1904 or 1908), Crawford was a nightclub dancer who broke
into Broadway musicals in the Jazz Age of the 1920s. She first twisted her way
into Hollywood stardom as a vivacious flapper in the 1928 silent film Our
Dancing Daughters. She made a series of similar pictures, including Dancing
Lady (1933), which co-starred Fred Astaire in his silver-screen debut.
Crawford’s seamless transition into the sound film era made her one of the most
popular and by the late 1930s was one of the highest-paid leading ladies in
Hollywood. She fought for more varied and less stereotypical parts, winning
dramatic roles in films such as The Women (1939), Susan and God
(1940), Strange Cargo (1940) and A Woman’s Face (1941). In 1945,
just when her career appeared to be on the wane, Crawford turned in the
performance for which she would most be remembered, playing the title role in Mildred
Pierce. As the waitress and single mother who makes her fortune with a
chain of restaurants, Crawford won an Academy Award for Best Actress and
established herself as a respected dramatic actress. She would be nominated for
another Best Actress Oscar for 1947’s Possessed and a third for 1952’s Sudden
By the late 1950s, Crawford had become a representative
for the Pepsi-Cola Company, whose board chairman and chief executive, Alfred N.
Steele, she married in 1955. Three previous marriages--to the actors Douglas
Fairbanks Jr., Franchot Tone and Phillip Terry--had ended in divorce. When
Steele died in 1959, Crawford was named the first female director of
Pepsi-Cola’s board. In 1962, the tenacious actress made a celebrated foray into
the horror genre with What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, co-starring Bette
Davis. Having always enthusiastically welcomed and cultivated her fame,
Crawford published her autobiography, A Portrait of Joan, that same
year. She went on to make a number of thrillers in the last years of her
career, as well as occasional appearances in television dramas. Less than two
years after Crawford’s death in 1977, her adopted daughter Christina published Mommie
Dearest, in which she alleged that the famous actress had been emotionally
and physically abusive to Christina and her adopted brother. The book was later
made into a critically panned film, starring Faye Dunaway as Crawford.
On this date in 1924, J. Edgar Hoover is named acting
director of the Bureau of Investigation (now the FBI).
By the end of the year he was officially promoted to director.
This began his 48-year tenure in power, during which time he personally shaped
American criminal justice in the 20th century. Hoover first became involved in
law enforcement as a special assistant to the attorney general, overseeing the
mass roundups and deportations of suspected communists during the Red Scare abuses
of the late 1910s. After taking over the FBI in 1924, Hoover began secretly
monitoring any activities that did not conform to his American ideal. Hoover
approved of illegally infiltrating and spying on the American Civil Liberties
Union. His spies could be found throughout the government, even in the Supreme
Court. He also collected damaging information on the personal lives of civil
rights activists, including Martin Luther King Jr. While Hoover's success at
legitimate crime fighting was modest, his hold over many powerful people and
organizations earned him respect and kept him in power. He was extremely
successful at attracting attention and favorable press to the FBI. It wasn't
until after his death in 1972, right before the beginning of the Watergate scandal,
that Hoover's corruption became known.