Although Joan Crawford was never as successful in Hollywood than she was in her youth and at the height of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, she still worked leading up to her death in 1977. In 1971, she published a book called My Way of Life, and you should be very, very thankful that it's available. You can buy Joan Crawford's My Way Of Life in paperback on Amazon for just $14.99. It's also available on Kindle for $6, or if you want to get really obsessive, you can track down a hardcover collectible version for $100. But I'd go with the mass market paperback for this cult classic.
In the book, Crawford spills all of her secrets so that you can learn how to be, well, just like Joan Crawford. It's part memoir and part self help. It's a little campy and definitely very, very dated. The back of the paperback says that the book: "...advises the reader on everything from throwing a small dinner party for eighteen to getting the most out of a marriage. Featuring tips on fashion, makeup, etiquette and everything in between, it is an irresistible look at a bygone era, when movie stars were pure class, and Crawford was at the top of the heap."
How can you not want to read that?
The cover alone makes it intriguing. (Like, why are neither the dogs or Crawford looking at the camera? Is she sitting in front of a portrait of herself? Of course she is.) Whatever you think of Crawford the woman, her book is a must-read to if you want to understand how she really worked. An XOJane writer wrote about the book a few years ago after picking it up at a garage sale and there are some really good tips. Like this gem about dieting:
Here are a few items no dieter should ever have in the house: Peas, lima beans, avocados, olives, dried beans, corn, butter, most cheese, fatty meats, sugar, chocolate, potatoes, rice, bread, pasta, and creamed soups. The list could go on for another page or two, but any intelligent woman knows the dangerous foods.
Or this about her personal style:
People are always debating whether we dress for men, for other women, or for ourselves. On occasion, I dress for all three. Femininity for men, color for women -- and something very crazy, like a mad hat, for myself.
There are also tips about engaging your guests in conversation at dinner parties (don't sit two people who have common interests together, they might get bored) and how to keep your marriage steamy (make time at the end of the day together with wine). Crawford knows it all.
Whether you take it seriously or not is a whole different story, but it's definitely interesting to get a closer look into the mind of the legendary actress.