[*Underhill was a journalist for the New York Herald Tribune]
This letter is going to be a horrid bore to you I know, but I'm at the studio, have a few moments to myself so I came up to my dressing room to talk to you.
I'm low low as hell, I haven't any other term I can use but that one, for it seems to describe my feelings so, oh so well. I'd give anything if I could just stand up and scream it "I'm low as Hell", yes isn't that dreadful? I've been up since six, it's only ten, I've smoked one package of cigarettes already and have had about ten cups of coffee. I have to to keep going, don't scold me, yes I know my nerves are all shot, I know too that I'll have a nervous breakdown and also my doctor told me yesterday I had to go to the hospital right after the picture. Oh Dan, for the first time in my life I'm afraid. I'm afraid of the silliest thing, it's just this I'm afraid to relax. I've been doing three pictures at once, having more and more trouble with mother, you see she is living with me again. My home, the thing I need most to go to and relax isn't a home. I'm so tired at times. I get sick inside, I can't relax for when I do I'm going to pieces. I'm acting always each waking moment and when I go to bed I can't get to sleep till the wee hours of morning, then when I get up I'm all tired out. If I could only go away and rest. Oh God, me thinks I shall go mad at times.
This letter is rambling on and on, I told and warned you it would, if you can read it you're a miracle for I must hurry and finish for they will call me back on the set any moment now.
Dan you've been such a precious to write so often, all because I asked you to, your letters have kept me going, honestly they have, keep up the good work and help me. I'm selfish I know, but I want more poems, you see, you shouldn't be so clever and marvelous, then I wouldn't be a pest and beg for more, or want your letters.
Oh do write soon. I'm trying so hard to work and not disappoint you in my "Rose Marie" character. I want so for you to love it. I want so to have you tell me again I made you cry when you saw her on the screen. Oh I want so very many things, and have nothing.
Oh Dan I do ask so little of Life, why can't I get that little bit that I do ask for.
People keep rattling their rotten tounges [sic] about me when I broke my engagement to Mike Cudahy, they talked not that I care, but why can't they keep their vile thoughts to themselves. I hate people, I loathe them. The only thing in the world I do ask for is love, tenderness, sincerity, beautiful friendship. I can't find it, you give it to me, yes. Oh, I don't want to become hardened, I won't for I believe in dreams, oh but it's hard to keep building up those dreams, when they are torn down so often.
I'm sorry I'll stop now, you see I know I've surprised you terribly. You didn't know I'd put down my thoughts like this, did you? Well here they are, try and read between the lines and really see the true heart and soul of
According to the website Legendary Joan Crawford, Joan and Dan Mahony never met. However, the letter dated September 1927 (shown above) seems to indicate that they did. Also, it looks like Joan referred to a meeting in another letter dated July 1928: "We practically know nothing about each other, yet one Sunday we seemed to have known each other all our lives".
|Joan pictured above with Michael Cudahy|
Fast forward to 1943, when Joan was sixteen years older, already an established actress and obviously much surer of herself. The following letter was written to fan-turned-friend Pearl Pezoldt (with whom Joan maintained a correspondence spanning several decades), followed by three more letters that I like, with Joan giving advice and replying to fans who had asked her for a favour.
December 14th, 1943.
Please do not ever think it's an intrusion whether it's 4:30 A.M. or not. Of course, we have to have someone to unburden to and I'm delighted that I'm the one. I hope by now Joan and Charles are much better and don't you worry about Marshall-Fields cancelling the balance of the order. Of course, it's dreadful that you have so much money tied up in the materials.
Yes, Pearl, I do think we gain in character from experiences and trials. Try not to get to the point where you wonder why. I found that, with my self, at least, if you keep saying why- why did it have to happen to me- that that's the first stages of a very depressed condition and if it goes on long enough it can become quite a bad case of self pity. Just know there's nothing presented to us that we cannot cope with. That there is a power much greater than any one of us, who created us and who continues to give us strength and courage - not only daily, but hourly. Learn to depend on that and lean on it.
I don't know what religion you have -- every one has one -- but it's the only thing one can really depend on when one is in great need and I repeat to you what I said in my last letter, don't even think of us at Christmas time. You have done enough with the lovely handkerchief and card.
Do keep me posted on everything and write whenever you feel you need to.
Signed 'Joan Terry'*
Mrs. Hanford C. Pezoldt,
1452 Whitcomb Avenue
Des Plaines, Ilinois
[*At the time Joan was married to actor Phillip Terry, her third husband]
November 11, 1951
Frances M. Egan
810 Hanna Building
Thank you for your sweet letter and your interest in writing to me. I am so sorry to be so delayed in answering, but I am in production now so that means a very crowded schedule and most of my day is spent at the studio.
I do wish to thank you for all the lovely things you expressed about me and my work. It is pay for all the long hard hours required to give a successful production. It is a joy to add your name to my list of friends.
Regarding your inquiry as to a position as a script girl in a studio, I am sorry that I cannot give you that information as I am not acquainted with the requirements and method of hiring. I would suggest that your [sic] write to the employment office of several of the studios and ask them the proper procedure of applying.
Best of wishes to you and your daughter. I do hope you will be able to fulfill your desire to move to California. Do have a joyful Thanksgiving Holiday.
(signed 'Joan Crawford')
March 12, 1953
Dear Mrs. Emerson:
Thank you so much for your nice letter. I am deeply sorry to know that your life has been upset recently. It is a hard adjustment to make, when a home is broken and there are children in it.
I think it is fortunate that your children are old enough to allow you the freedom necessary to start a career. I feel it is essential at a time like this to keep busy with something you are most interested in.
You ask if you are too old to go back to studying dramatics. I do not think anyone is too old to study, and I do not consider 39 old. Nowadays a woman can keep herself attractive and young-looking. Naturally, it will take time to make the readjustment, but I am sure you will find the happiness you seek, if you go about it with courage and determination.
I hope I have helped you a little, and do write me again and let me know how you are getting along.
(signed 'Joan Crawford')
Mrs. Ruth Emerson
7304 Kester Avenue
Van Nuys, California
September 27, 1952
Miss Bettie Smith
520 Grant Avenue
Thank you for your letter which was waiting for me upon my arrival home from my tour and then a few days vacation with the children before they returned to school.
I am very sorry to hear of your illness. The death of your father would be a shock to you all since he was the earning power of your family. It is wonderful that your sister is sharing so much responsibility and is to be admired.
I only wish I could help you buy a television set. The demands of my family increase each year as they grow older and it does take much to keep them. I have so many desiring a similar favor that I cannot possibly grant them all. Have you ever tried any of the contests which offer prizes? It would be fun for you and a chance to get your desired set.
Best wishes and I do hope you are better by now.
(signed 'Joan Crawford')
This post is my contribution to the JOAN CRAWFORD: QUEEN OF THE SILVER SCREEN BLOGATHON, hosted by PALE WRITER and POPPITY TALKS CLASSIC FILM. Visit either blog for links to all the other entries!