Friday, July 23, 2010

Joan Crawford's Wild Ride

Joan Crawford, photo from

Many people when they think of Joan Crawford probably think of the "Mommie Dearest" version, the lunatic woman who can't stop cleaning, who abuses her adopted children, and screams "No more wire hangers!" Author Bob Thomas, in his biography on Joan, shines a fair light on the actress, showing that she was not just some psycho, however, he does include a few anecdotes that show how she did present some eccentricities, especially in her later years. Here is an interesting story from Thomas's biography.

Sportsmen's Lodge, Studio City, California

In the early 1950s, at the time Joan Crawford was working on the film Female on the Beach for Universal Studios, she was seen going on dates with different men. One evening Joan was to go on a date with a businessman from Chicago. The man was quite nervous about going on a date with such a huge star so he asked his friend Tony Owen and his wife Donna Reed if they would join him on his date with Joan. Reed, who had never met Joan (she joined MGM after Joan had moved on to Warner Bros.) but who had corresponded with Joan and wanted to meet the legendary actress agreed to the double date.

The Owens and the businessman were to meet Joan at her dressing room (probably a bungalow) on the Universal lot then go to the Sportsman's lodge for dinner. Joan was living in the dressing room while filming Female on the Beach. When the Owens and friend arrived at the studio they went to Joan's dressing room where they exchanged pleasantries. Then Joan turned and exclaimed, "Oh, dear, the dogs have tinkled on the carpet." Joan got on her hands and knees and began scrubbing with a towel and soda water, vigorously brushing the floor. When she was done, Joan washed her hands, came back to the group and nonchalantly asked, "Shall we go?"

Joan suggested they take the freeway from Universal to the Sportsmen's Lodge but Owen said, "Don't you think we should go on Ventura Boulevard? The Sportsman's Lodge is only a couple miles away." Owen was right, it made sense to take Ventura but Joan replied, "No, the freeway is better."

Joan and her date got in her car and drove off out the studio gate, made a left on Lankershim Boulevard and onto the Hollywood Freeway before Owen could argue. Owen and Reed got in their car and quickly tried to catch up. "My God, she's going east." said Owen. "The Sportsmen's Lodge is west!"

"We've got to catch her" said, Reed. They passed the Hollywood Bowl and kept going. Finally, Owen and Reed caught up with Joan in the Silver Lake district. Owen gestured to Joan that she was going the wrong way. Joan nodded, exited the freeway and then got back on heading west.

"How on earth can she get out of this situation?" Reed thought. "What can she possibly say?"

"I can't imagine," said Owen.

Joan stepped out of her car in front of the Sportsman's Lodge and said, "Didn't I tell you - the freeway's great!"

Quite the story don't you think? I wonder what was going through Joan's head at the time. At least she covered for herself rather creatively.

Sportsmen's Lodge, Studio City - photo from

The Sportsmen's Lodge is a hotel on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, California and has been a landmark in the valley for over a century. Until the 1970s, there was even a lake for trout fishing. People would come to the Sportsmen's Lodge, catch their own fish out of the lake, and then have the Lodge restaurant prepare the fish. Even celebrities came to fish, including Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, Bette Davis, and numerous other big time celebrities.

Stars still head over to the Sportsmen's Lodge for the restaurant and hotel. The Sportsmen's Lodge also hosts many special events such as political gatherings, weddings and anniversaries.

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