This glamorous and hugely popular actress raised herself from brutal poverty to Academy Award-winning stardom by guts, determination and hard work. During her fifty-year career, she made over eighty films. But her obsessive perfectionism led to the later caricature of coat-hanger-wielding harridan that even the adoration of fans could not counter. Still, she has endured as one of the most popular icons of the movies, an early role model to a million young women who aspired to her image of stylish magnetic power and unquestioned independence. Spotted by an MGM scout, by 1925 she was under contract in Hollywood. She made the usual publicity appearaces and did Exhibition Dancing at night. Her vitality, charm and dancing talents earned her many admirers - including some powerful enough to advance her career, like William Haines, Paul Bern, Jackie Coogan, Sr. and Louis B. Mayer. After bit parts and a small role in the film Pretty Ladies, a studio-sponsored competition found her the name she at first hated: Joan Crawford. Four husbands included actors Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, Franchot Tone, Phillip Terry and businessman Alfred Steele. Plagued by innumerable miscarriages, she adopted four children, one of whose account of Joan's unyielding perfectionism has succeded in blurring memories of the remarkable life and career of a Hollywood immortal.
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