Joan Crawford’s Net Worth: How it Translates Today

Joan Crawford's Net Worth and Life

Joan Crawford Net Worth

There are a lot of articles about net worth these days. We all want to know how much the biggest current stars are worth. Of course, we do. Most of us could never dream of being that rich (or losing that much, in some cases). It’s a very natural curiosity.

Examining the net worth of Old Hollywood’s most iconic actors, those who would rival the star status of Jennifer Lawrence or Ryan Gosling is the perfect way to rediscover the glitter and glamor of Tinseltown. Let’s go there now with the beautiful and always fabulous – unless you are one of her two oldest children – Joan Crawford.

Who is Joan Crawford?

Joan Crawford is one of Hollywood’s most iconic and interesting leading ladies. She rose to fame with a contract at MGM and was nominated for an Academy Award three times and was awarded the prized statue on her third time for Mildred Pierce. When it was announced she had won, Crawford was quoted saying, “Whether the Academy voters were giving the Oscar to me, sentimentally, for Mildred or for 200 years of effort, the hell with it — I deserved it.”

 

Joan Crawford Academy Award for Mildred Pierce
Joan Crawford holding her Oscar for Best Actress in “Mildred Pierce”.
Photo: SNAP / Rex Features

She is most known for her behind-the-scenes antics and throwing shade at people like Bette Davis in interviews. Her feud with Bette Davis is infamous and led to the cult hit Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, which was the main subject of the FX show, Feud.

Joan lived a full life of family, scandals, rumors, and extravagance. She embodied what Hollywood was all about and it is no wonder she is still one of the biggest names there is.

Like many actresses of her time and, come on, many actresses now, she was petite (another word for short!) And, how tall was Joan Crawford? Depending on what you read, Joan Crawford’s height was between 5’4” and 5’5”. She herself claimed she was “five feet four and a half.”

Joan Crawford’s Many Men

Oh, the many men of Joan Crawford. And why not? She was gorgeous. With her chiseled features and a great figure, men clamored over her.

 

Who is Joan Crawford?
Joan Crawford glam shot from her 1933 film “Dancing Lady.”

So, who was Joan Crawford married to?

I’m sure Joan would like to forget this one and that could be the reason he is often left off the list, but her first husband in 1925 was a saxophone player named, James Welton. Joan was still a dancer on Broadway and hadn’t made her breakthrough yet. The marriage was very brief and never discussed. Nobody even knows how long it lasted. Interesting.

Joan did much better on her second marriage in 1929 to Hollywood royalty, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. The two had dated for two years prior but Fairbanks’ famous family didn’t approve and most likely had a lot to do with their divorce in 1934. He probably got tired of not being invited to his family’s famous Hollywood parties anymore.

 

Who was Joan Crawford Married to?
Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. on their wedding day.

Franchot Tone was the next short-lived marriage that spanned less than five years between 1935 and 1939. Tone is the man who may have started the feud between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis as both were seeing him in the bedroom…if you catch my drift. Wink wink.

 

Who was Joan Crawford Married to?
Joan Crawford and Franchot Tone in 1935

Crawford, always having to be the winner then made things official with him to push Bette out of the way.They tried to have children several times with no success. Joan sadly miscarried every time.

After the divorce, Joan her sights on adoption. However, she was single and single women were not allowed to adopt at that time, so she had to adopt off the black market. Enter, Christina Crawford.

Joan then married London actor, Philip Terry in 1942, only to divorce in 1946. During their marriage, they adopted a boy who was originally named Philip Terry, Jr. but Joan changed it to Christopher Crawford after their divorce.

 

Who was Joan Crawford Married to?
Joan Crawford and Philip Terry on their wedding day.

And now we get to Joan’s final marriage to the king of the Pepsi empire, Alfred Steele in 1955. Their marriage was filled with their passion for publicity, Steele for his company and Joan for any kind of attention she could get at this point. This lasted another four years until Alfred died of a heart attack in 1959, making Joan Crawford a widow and the first woman to serve on the board of Pepsi-Cola.

 

Who was Joan Crawford Married to?
Joan Crawford and Alfred Steele on their wedding day.

Christina Crawford, Mommie Dearest, and Those Wire Hangers

Have you seen Mommie Dearest? It’s a pretty iconic movie but you never know these days. You should see it. It should be required viewing. The film is based on Crawford’s first adopted daughter, Christina Crawford’s book of the same name.

 

What happened to Christina Crawford?
Joan playing with Christina in the early 1940’s

Christina alleges many things about her mother. She tells details of horrible abuse, controlling ways and emotional cruelty. One memorable story of abuse was depicted in the movie about a night when Christina and her adopted brother Christopher were woken up in the middle of the night – as Joan was prone to do in a drunken state – because Joan found one of Christina’s dresses hanging on a wire hanger. According to Christina, she was cruelly admonished and beaten with said wire hanger.

 

What happened to Christina Crawford?

 

The other adopted children in the family, twins Cathy and Cindy, have contested this version of Joan Crawford repeatedly. However, Christina has explained that there was a big age gap between her and the twins and they were not there for a lot of Christina’s childhood. Her brother Christopher who was much closer in age has backed up Christina’s version of their life with Joan.

 

Who did Joan Crawford leave her money to?
Cathy and Cindy with their mother in the 1960’s.

Who played Mommie Dearest? Who could have taken on such a role? Why, the fabulous Faye Dunaway, darling. Nobody else would do. To say that Faye Dunaway and Joan Crawford had similarities is an understatement.

 

Who played Mommie Dearest?
Faye Dunaway’s famous “No Wire Hangers” moment in “Mommie Dearest.”

What happened to Christina Crawford? Christina gave up her nominal acting career for writing after her mother’s death. Of course, we know about her first book, Mommie Dearest but she also wrote several others. She has also worked tirelessly in becoming an advocate for reform of child abuse and trafficking laws.

Christina’s latest project is a documentary she made herself about the effect Joan’s abuse had on her titled, Surviving Mommie Dearest.

 

What happened to Christina Crawford?
Christina Crawford at the launch of her latest project in early 2017.

You probably also want to know what happened to Christopher Crawford, the brother who served in the trenches with Christina. Christopher left home at the age of 19 after getting out of military school where he was sent by Joan.

Living a quiet life in Florida with his wife and children, Christopher saw his mother once before her death. He said in one of the few interviews he gave that it didn’t go well and never saw her again. Unfortunately, Christopher died of cancer in 2006 at the age of 62.

 

What happened to Christopher Crawford?
Joan Crawford hugging her two adopted children, Christina and Christopher, while sitting on the beach in 1945.

How Did Joan Crawford Die?

What year did Joan Crawford die? Our beloved Joan Crawford died on May 8th, 1977 of a heart attack. She had been showing signs of becoming too weak to function several days before.

Joan was somewhere between 69 or 72 depending on which birth year you go by. Nobody knows her exact birthdate and isn’t that just like our Joan?

Joan’s final resting place is next to her last husband, Pepsi King, Alfred Steele.

Joan Crawford’s Estate

How much was Joan Crawford worth when she died? Do we know? You bet we do! She was worth millions, around $2 million dollars to be exact. That equals around $8 million dollars today with inflation. Not too shabby. Especially considering how much that woman loved to spend money.

 

Who did Joan Crawford leave her estate to?

 

Who did Joan Crawford leave her money to? Not Christina or Christopher, that’s for sure. Check out the wording straight from her will, “It is my intention to make no provision herein for my son Christopher or my daughter Christina for reasons which are well known to them.” Ouch. However, her secretary Betty Barker did receive some money. Double ouch.

 

Who did Joan Crawford leave her estate to?
Joan Crawford’s longtime Secretary, Betty Barker.
who did joan crawford leave her money to?
A letter from Betty Barker on behalf of Joan Crawford in 1974.

So, who did Joan Crawford leave her estate to? The twins, Cathy and Cindy plus charity. It’s interesting that the twins accuse Christina of inaccurately portraying Joan and they also happen to be the ones who inherited everything except what went to charity. Coincidence?

There you have it. A visit down Hollywood memory lane with a woman who was as beautiful as she was said to be cruel and as unique as she was mysterious. It’s also a glimpse into the fact that a high net worth like Crawford’s worth does not mean that challenges in life just go away. Challenges don’t care how rich you are and Joan Crawford had them, baby. No matter how high her net worth climbed.

Joan Crawford was often criticized but remained a star til her death. The GIF below is her dancing in one of her earlier films. This is exactly what she’s doing wherever she is now – dancing with joy that we’re still talking about her.

 

Joan Crawford Dancing

 

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