cover image Not the Girl Next Door—Joan Crawford, a Personal Biography

Not the Girl Next Door—Joan Crawford, a Personal Biography

Charlotte Chandler, . . Simon & Schuster, $26 (316pp) ISBN 978-1-4165-4751-8

In this sympathetic biography, Chandler (Ingrid: The Girl Who Walked Home Alone ) chronicles Crawford’s life—from a brutal Midwest childhood to her self-imposed exile in New York. Crawford (1905–1977) began as a dancer, but her extraordinary features, perfect for the new medium of film, served her well. Her career spanned silents to Hollywood’s golden era, and her body of work is legendary—Grand Hotel , The Women and Mildred Pierce , to name just a few. Divided into 10 sections, including the luminous MGM and Warner years, the book provides a brief description of her films and studio life, and offers a sanitized view of her four marriages as well as a strong refutation of the “Mommie Dearest” claims. Chandler isn’t interested in sex or scandal; she had, however, extensively interviewed Crawford; her first husband, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.; and scores of film luminaries, like Myrna Loy and Bette Davis. All reveal a hardworking, disciplined and generous woman who lived for work. “Joan Crawford and her camera. It was the greatest love affair I have ever known,” said director George Cukor. Chandler’s bio is a breezy, laudatory read that would have pleased Crawford, who was fiercely protective of her iconic status. (Feb.)