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Joan Crawford in Supporting Roles: 4 Times the Star Shined Without Being the Lead Actress

By    |   Thursday, 14 May 2015 06:39 AM

Joan Crawford did not take on supporting roles very often due to her intense desire to be in the spotlight and tendency to get into feuds with other leading ladies and co-stars. However, as Jason Ankeny for The New York Times aptly described Ms. Crawford, “(She) was not an actress; she was a movie star. The distinction is a crucial one: she infrequently appeared in superior films, and her work was rarely distinguished regardless of the material, yet she enjoyed one of the most successful and longest-lived careers in cinema history.”

Here are four of the times Crawford did in fact play a supporting role yet still shined like the star she was determined to be:

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1. Bobby, “Pretty Ladies” (1925)

Playing a showgirl, Crawford broke into Hollywood with this role and never looked back. Shane Estes, a reviewer on JoanCrawfordBest.com, observed, “She seems at ease and very professional in such an early role.”

2. Amanda Farrow, “The Best of Everything” (1959)

It was reported that this film was one of Crawford’s personal favorites, and proved that she still had star power. As Kimberly Lindbergs wrote, “In what amounts to about 15-20 minutes of screen time, Crawford proceeds to chew her way through the eye-popping scenery and effortlessly commands every scene she’s in.”

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Lindbergs noted that this was the first time Crawford hadn’t played the lead role, but she took the role because she supposedly needed the money when her husband, Pepsi executive Alfred Steele, passed away suddenly.

3. Crystal Allen, “The Women” (1939)

Sharing the screen was never really Crawford’s preference, but in “The Women,” Crawford is paired with one of her early nemesis, Norma Shearer, who Crawford never truly forgave after playing her body double in “Lady of the Night.” And since Crawford was convinced Shearer always won roles over her because she was married to a MGM executive, this role was symbolic for Crawford since Crystal steals the husband of Shearer’s character.

4. Lucretia Terry, “The Caretakers” (1963)

This film is important to Crawford’s cinematic timeline only because it is the last film that she appears in that receives an Academy Award nomination. Crawford was reportedly disappointed with her scenes being cut and that a storyline about her love interest was eliminated.

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Joan Crawford did not take on supporting roles very often due to her intense desire to be in the spotlight and tendency to get into feuds with other leading ladies and co-stars.
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