Joan Crawford's fame stemmed from a number of different things: glamour, acting, wit, quotes, her charity work, her board position at the Pepsi-Cola Corporation, and various accolades she recieved while alive. I personally think that what was her most memorable attribute was the joy she took in answering her fan mail. It is roughly estimated that between her career beginnings in the 1920s until her death in the Spring of 1977 that she wrote and mailed an astounding three million fan letters. (of course when she was alive stamps cost somewhere between two and three cents so she was able to do a lot with that.)
Joan Crawford loved nothing more then getting letters, cards, and photo requests from her fans. She believed that it was a great compliment and considering how she grew up in an unhappy and abused enviorment as a child these sentiments to her were a sign that she was admired and cared for. Crawford believed that it was her fans who helped her reach her famous stature and she felt it not as an obligation but a duty to correspond with her fans as much as possible so that they would continue to support her in the course of her career.
When it came to her personal correspondence Crawford always thanked her family and Hollywood friends for their kindness to her as well. For example, one of Joan Crawford's best friends was film actress Barbara Stanwyck. In a Christmas letter Joan sent to her, dated December 22, 1962, she wrote:
Your Christmas card is the merriest, gaysest, most charming and happiest thing I ever saw. Thank you for thinking of me.
And now we are going to stop this nonsense - I will be out in Los Angeles
in January, and God damn it, we are going to have dinner together.
Happy, happy New Year, Barbara dear.
At the bottom of that note, Barbara Stanwyck's handwriting can be seen below the signature of Joan Crawford along with the words, "Such language, really!". Should you wish to view this letter, and many others, please visit www.joancrawfordbest.com and click on the letters link. It is, in my opinion, the best Joan Crawford site you'll ever see.
As Joan Crawford once said, "Oh, the thank you notes and the best wishes are no big deal. People deserve to be remembered on special occasions, and appreciate being remembered." There has never been a celebrity back then or now who answered back to their fans with the love and devotion that Joan Crawford revealed through the thousands of letters she sent out during her lifetime. In fact, because Crawford did that so much throughout her lifetime her signature today is only worth a mere $20.
Above is a video of some Joan Crawford letters
on an episode of Antique Road Show.