As I’m continuing on conducting interviews with fans of these four great ladies, yesterday I was delighted to grant an interview with Christopher Blankenship, an ardent Joan Crawford fan, who has resided in North Carolina for most of his life. At age twenty five, Christopher is one of the most loyal and devoted Joan followers I know. In this interview Chris explains that he became interested in Joan at a very young age after watching “Mommie Dearest” on the TV. At the time he didn’t really know anything about Joan and was intrigued by the movie. Later on as his passion for Joan increased, Chris decided to look through the lens of “Mommie Dearest” and discover Joan first hand by watching some of her movies with his grandmother, who enjoyed watching classic movies. While Joan Crawford is his favorite, Christopher also displays a strong interest in Marilyn Monroe.
Q: You have been a Joan fan for quite sometime. When did you first discover Joan and what made you become passionate about her?
A: Yes I have been a devoted fan of hers since I was a child. At that particular age I had only been able to see “Mommie Dearest” and being at the age I was, I was very interested with the appearance of her house in Brentwood. The pool, staircase and luxurious bed were all very eye catching to me and the appearance of Faye Dunaway in such beautiful outfits, really had my interest. But as with everyone else, from that period of time, I believe it came from my Nana, Anna Ruth Wright as she used to watch all kinds of older movies at night.
Q: Joan is an inspiration to many people of all ages. What inspires you most about Joan?
A: Her way of life and how she lived it to not let anyone in her way, is what inspires me most. She has taught me so much on how to get what I really wanted out of my own life. She inspires me to have inner as well as outer beauty without having too much. And to let you in on a secret of mine most of my beauty trademarks came from Joan, the way I occasionally do my eyebrows or lips is all from Joan Crawford. And even the way she talked inspires me to better my own speech. Using word’s like “Lovely” and names like “Darling” and “Dear”. And she inspires me to embrace my own very broad exaggerated shoulders. And also she inspires me to always be on time and to always return each and every single one my letter’s and phone call’s in a polite manner.
Q: Joan is largely popular among young audiences of today. Many young people are starting to discover Joan and admiring her. What do you think attracts the young audiences to Joan?
A: Honestly, without sugar coating it…I think it’s “Mommie Dearest” most people of today love drama no matter how much of a lie it is they will feed off of it, along with the glitz and glamour of Hollywood from Joan’s time, not the Hollywood of today “they’re snobbish little geeks there, and you may have it.”
Q: Joan has starred in many films and has played many diverse roles and always delivered a fine performance. She could portray many different characters, and whatever role she played she always made that character shine. Even though Joan has appeared in so many successful films, everyone has a favorite Joan movie or a film that remains vivid in their memory. What is your favorite Joan movie?
A: Her first picture for Warner’s Brother‘s, “Mildred Pierce” that became not only a huge hit but earned Joan an Oscar for Best Actress of 1945.
Q: Joan has so many unforgettable moments, whether it’s in a film, an interview etc, but everybody has their favorite Joan moment. A moment that really shines in their memory. What is your favorite Joan moment?
A: From a movie…it would have to be from the 1955 movie titled “Queen Bee” when she said “I thought you were aware by this time that I’m not someone to be sent for like a kitchen maid” that was her character’s line I know, but she said it with such passion and so perfectly it was like she delivered the line from within herself, she was a risk taker in her line of work at the Studio as far as challenging herself to do more diverse roles and be outspoken.
Q: Joan passed away in May 1977. What was your first reaction upon hearing about her death. How did it affect you?
A: I was not even alive in 1977, I wasn’t born until the summer of 1988. But when I did learn of her passing and what caused it I felt a lot of deep sorrow and dark morbid depression, it was the end of an era for me. Almost like a Queen had died, the Queen of the silver screen.
Q: Joan has a huge impact on a lot of people. What impact does Joan have on you?
A: The impact of not doing anything if I can’t do it right the first time. And by that I mean there is no sense in doing something, if I don’t do it the right way. Whether it be cleaning the floor’s of my house in Broadbay Heights or it be making a conversation at a party with a complete stranger, I must always do and be at my very best.
Q: No matter what decade, Joan always remained the star of her own pictures. Even in her later years when her pictures began to decline, she always made her character highly notable. What is your favorite Joan period. 20′s, 30′s, 40′s, 50′s, 60′s or 70′s?
A: 40’s absolutely. The beginning of the 40’s for Miss Crawford was certainly her most challenging time at MGM, during the 40’s she made a break from the shop girl, cookie cutter love triangle, and society girl roles like she had done in the 30’s. In the 40’s Miss Crawford done more diverse work with more challenging risk taking roles. Especially 1941’s “A Woman’s Face”, where her role was of a badly scarred proprietress.
Q: Every fan has a certain Joan item that they cherish the most. What Joan possession do you most cherish?
A: I don’t own as much as some, sadly. But of what I do own my favorite has to be a poster of her as Eva Phillips from “Queen Bee”.
Q: Many people have had the rare opportunity to meet Joan, or others have written to her and have been fortunate enough to attain her autograph. Have you ever had any dealings with Joan. Have you ever sent her a fan letter & she replied, or have you been lucky enough to meet her?
A: No, I have only dreamt of these things.
Q: If you had to introduce Joan to a young person, what films would you recommend?
A: I would recommend them watching volumes 1 and 2 of the Joan Crawford Collection from Warner Video.
Q: Joan was a versatile actress. She has portrayed many different characters, and always delivered a fine performance. Some of the roles Joan has played have been heavy, solid roles that really shown her acting ability, roles that not all actresses could play to the same effect as Joan. In which movie do you feel Joan delivers her best performance?
A: I would say “Mildred Pierce” which is a lot like her own story of coming from rags to riches and really making a name for herself. I believe that is why I believe that she delivered her best performance, because she had already performed it once, in a sense, she already knew it and how to perform it.
Q: Joan has only won one Oscar, but has been nominated twice, but never won. Which movies do you strongly feel that Joan deserved to win an Oscar for?
A: I strongly feel in my heart Joan should have won an Oscar for “Queen Bee”, “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane”, “Rain”, “A Woman’s Face” and “Autumn Leaves”. It’s a long list I know, but that is what came to mind as being worthy of an Oscar because of such diverse roles and by far the most challenging.
Q: In your own words how would you best describe Joan Crawford?
A: Joan Crawford, the loyal to her fan’s Queen of Hollywood devoted to her work and family. A leader, certainly not a follower to actress’s from past to present. A beloved Mother to each of her four children and a polite friend to everyone she met.
Thank you Christopher. It was a pleasure being able to conduct an interview with you.
By Crystal Kalyana Crawford.