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110 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2001
You will probably have to get this out-of-print classic either at an estate sale, or steal it off a friend's bookshelf, (as Crawford herself surely would have done), because there's absolutely no way that anyone who's ever read it would DREAM of selling it. Here is the late period Joan Crawford in all her tacky, Keane Kids-loving splendor; wife, mother, tycoon, ACTRESS, dressmaker....you get the idea. And as she lets you know on every page, she's a busy BUSY bee, so don't waste her time. Buy the book or get out!
Crawford tries to let her (shellacked) hair down, but is out of touch with her targeted, "over the garden fence" audience. She's forever telling her housewife reader to "do without some little luxury" (like bread, perhaps?) to save up for something nice...such as a full length, three-sided mirror for her dressing room, a bartender and maid for her dinner party, or suit jackets lined in the same pattern of silk as her blouse. (The only blouse, it seems, that ever goes with that particular suit. Daunting.) Here's my favorite, worthless tip, this one on buying a new dress: "When you're ready to say yes to a purchase, wrap it up, pay for it - but don't go home until you're sure you have exactly the right accessories. You should be ready to emerge in your new ensemble the next day!" Thanks, Joan. We'll manage.
Joan also wants us to know what a dedicated actress she is/was. "At times I've deliberately gained weight," she muses. "I did for [comeback role] Mildred Pierce because I thought it suited the part." (Yeah, right!) And if a scene "goes wrong" in rehearsal, (as it does on page 121), she's willing to improvise if everyone will just stand back and get out of her way. "I've got it," she insists. "Let's shoot, let's get it on film, because I may never be able to recapture that one brief second again." Whenever you're ready, Miss Crawford.
Joan also rhapsodizes over how devoted third husband Alfred Steel was. (You'll have to look elsewhere for recountings of the drunken brawls and blackened eyes.) Why, Alfred Steele doesn't even need Joan Crawford to be movie star glamorous for him; all that mumbo-jumbo witchcraft just gets in the way! After a wave knocks Joan over on a Jamaican beach, Alfred cups her bare, tanned face in his hands as saltwater streams off them, sighing, "You're the most beautiful thing I ever saw in my life." ("I knew then what he loved in me," she remembers. "That was his private Joan.") The question I put to the court is: So why did she ever wear makeup again? (And believe me, there's a long chapter devoted to makeup.)
I could go on and on, but the truth is that I'd rather be reading MY WAY OF LIFE than talking about it. It's my own, private Joan.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2005
I could not get enough of Joan's autobiography. Her "way of life" makes Martha Stewart look like a peasant. Her descriptions of what to serve for dinner, what time to wake up your weekend guests, how to become interested in your husband even though he may be boring, not to mention every thing Joan has been up to for the past 10 years, including posing with a miniature stuffed "ditka" ?!?! My very favorite helpful tip from Joan, though, may be how to assemble a guest list for your next frivolous extravaganza. Something about inviting a professional jockey, some lovely young actresses, a foreign diplomat, your visiting friends from Brussels, a bearded painter, and a nuclear physicist... Wow, I loved this lady. She is exhibitionist supreme. And she appears to take all this excrutiating detail with the utmost earnestness. She is so hilariously out of touch and since Joan had the glamour and money and stature to get away with it, the reader can just sit back and bask in her uniquely pretentious world. Better than any soap opera because you know it's Joan. Pure pleasure.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2002
A friend who works at a stuffy private library loaned this to me, and it kept me in stitches for literally weeks. From recipes for peanut butter-and-bacon hors d'oeuvres to hilariously self-serving anecdotes about throwing parties, raising children and satisfying your man, it's equal parts Hints from Heloise and "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"!
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2006
I, of course, have read, seen, and can virtually quote the dialogue from the film "Mommie
Dearest", (just like the rest of you--- LOL!) so all I knew about this Hollywood icon was from an
admittedly one-sided autobiography of an allegedly abused
daughter. In Christina Crawford's book, she says that Joan
Crawford used scheduling, planning, and military discipline
every day so that life would hold no surprises, and so her
mother could control every second of it- almost like an OCD
type of ritualistic behavior so that bad things won't happen.
This book, if nothing else, totally validates that part of her
daughter's book. I am telling you the truth, this woman
PLANNED EVERYthing, right down to the second, and she BRAGS
about it. I don't think she ever did a spontaneous thing in her
entire adult life. Joan Crawford gives us advice on how to eat,
how to talk to your mate, how to sleep, and even how to STAND, for goodness sake. If you think I'm exaggerating, even slightly, PLEASE buy the book. The sad part is that you can really tell she means well. Here are a few examples of her thoroughness, almost word for word, from the book. On eating: NEVER have two foods of the same color on your table- for instance, mashed potatoes and cauliflower, or strawberries and tomatoes, because it doesn't look right. On serving food at a dinner party: It is an insult, nay, a crime, to serve your guests food on plates right out of the cupboard, as there's nothing easier than having your MAID stack said plates in the oven for a few hours before the party commences. If you don't do this, you are, at best, a mediocre to poor hostess. On storing clothing: she always hung her dresses on satin hangers (NEVER wire ones- and if you don't know that little tidbit, you haven't been paying attention since 1978), and she always pins gloves that match exactly to the hangers, along with scarves,etc., so she'll know where to find them. Here's one that captures her way of thinking in a nutshell: after she divorced her second husband, actor Franchot Tone, she called her maid and instructed her to handpick all the monogrammed linens free of the letter "T", since she no longer carried his last name. The maid had literally picked thread that formed the letter "T" out of hundreds of towels, handkerchiefs, sweaters, you name it (Ms. Crawford believed in monogramming everything). While the maid was working on an extra large towel one day, and listening to the radio to try to keep her sanity, she heard an urgent newsbreak- Joan Crawford had just eloped and married another actor- a man named Phillip TERRY! That meant- you guessed it- ALL the monograms would have to be resewn. The poor maid lost it at this point, according to Joan herself, and ran down the hall screaming "I quit! I quit!", over and over, until she had to be forcibly restrained. When Joan heard about it, she chuckled -- and hired a new maid. Here, in parting, are a few tips from Joan. DON'T stand with your feet together. Always put one slightly in front of the other. This aligns your spine and makes you look more... well,I never did figure out more what. Tip #2: if your husband pumps gas all day, draaag all the details of his day out of him, no matter WHAT he says. Borrow a book on the manufacturing and dispensing of gasoline, from your local library, so you can be "on his level" when he tells you all about his day. Pretend to be interested, because there's a woman at his job during the day that really IS. Finally, never let your husband see you exercise or groom yourself- make him believe that you have a naturally svelte body, pretty face, and perfectly coiffed hair. Joan once said- with an air of nostalgia,yet- that HER husband, Al Steele, former Vice-President of Coca-Cola, and later Chairman of the Board of Pepsi (with Joan Crawford sitting in on all of his meetings, and raising her manicured hand when she had a question, just like the fellas), NEVER saw a curler, or a dust rag. She said (and I really DO quote) "I hope he never knew such things existed!" Final helpful hint, average housewife to average housewife: DON'T EVER let him see you shopping for mundane, domestic products. Make him think that soap, detergent, toilet paper, and so on,"MAGICALLY SPRING, READY- MADE, RIGHT OUT OF THE CUPBOARD!" How's that for keeping the romance alive? I cannot convey how bizarre her thinking is in one short book review. I tried to tell my brother about how zany it was, and he was rather non-commital when I gave him a brief synopsis, and then solicited his opinion-but after I talked him into reading it, we discussed the book, he with a practiced look of concern. He said someone reslly should have gotten her to a psychiatrist, and then he laughed ,hysterically, for a few solid minutes. I should add, for the record, that my brother is in his final year of completing a graduate degree IN PSYCHOLOGY, so he's seen 'em all....all,that is, until he met "Mommie Dearest"......
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 1997
from the first page of this book, joan crawford sucks you into this twisted world of warped dinner parties and bizarre egg rituals for the perfect hair conditioner. some times i laughed out loud, while other times i thought, "hey, what a good idea!" a must read for any one teetering on the edge of insanity
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 1998
Crawford's suggestions for a dinner party to impress your husband's boss are among the gems of this book. She advises to float candles in the swimming pool to set the mood of the evening. Also caviar on potato pancakes is a wonderful hors d'ouevre and can be served hot on a small stove in the living room. But I actually like her recipe for meatloaf, which she served "when the children came over" for a surprise visit.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2005
Don't even start this book without the following Ingredients because you'll be wasting Joan Crawford precious time.

Be thoroughly prepared for the day's plan of action. Always write things down the night before so you know where every hour, minute and second is going in your 24 hour day. If possible plan your day's Two week's to a week in advance.

That's Joan Crawford just letting us know she's busy, so busy at one point I was wondering if she was going to draw for breath, because as she puts it, I had to cramp this book into just six weeks while doing two other main Jobs at the same time. Well Joan not for a minute did anyone think you wouldn't get through it.

Ingredients.......
1 Apron,
1 Rolling Pin
1 Make up bag rearranged to meet your need's, you never know when those unexpected and unwelcome visitor's might turn up.
(also known as time waster's)
Your day and evening outfit laid out and pressed, shoes and accessories to match.
(always look ready to go)
Willing to bring 100% Confidence and Positive attitude with you.
(anything less must be addressed straight away, tackle face on, overcome those fears)
For those of you who have met the loves of your lives, always have his pipe and slippers ready because your treasure has had a long day at the office and needs his quality time on his own.
(For us modern day women that's the latest issue of FHM and a Beer)
Research what your treasure does in his day to day routine in work.
(You can talk shop (work) when he get's home, this will be a productive and intelligent conversation and he'll love you all the more for it)
Remember if Joan can't afford that caviar then neither can we.

Above anything else if that telephone rings while your engrossed in this enchanting book, don't take the stroppy and grumpy attitude road, pick up that receiver and start with "Hello isn't life wonderful"

Believe me this is me just skimming over the Surface.... my favourite has to be where she goes to her husband's business meeting's, because she needs to know all aspects of his life, and encourage's the other wives to take interest and to pop along.

Joan Crawford loves to surprise people, no one was more surprised than myself. Joan came across as warm and friendly which would throw anybody. Loaded with a sense of humour. smart and intelligent. You almost feel she has dug deep listed what went wrong in her life and researched herself to get it right. This book is about how to make it in life with Joan Crawford. A step by step guide of how to achieve bliss and happiness in your work, home, kitchen and love life and in Joan's way she pulls it off completely.

Beg, borrow, or hunt down this book for your collection, it may come at a price but you are simply missing out on life for not reading this. It's really quite wonderful and enlightening.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2002
I always wondered how to instruct my maid to pack the sleeves of my Chanel suits for travel. Of course, Joan comes to the rescue. I was thrilled to find this book at a used book sale. I treasure it, and refer to it often, especially if I'm feeling a little too picky about my housekeeping. For me, it's a portrait of Joan trying desperately to keep her star burning bright. No one ever did it like her. No one ever will again.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2009
This is one of those now extinct types of books, popular in the 1960s and often written by ladies of glamour and stature, about how to "live graciously." This is by far the most entertaining, and useful, of the lot, as it is written by the late, great Joan Crawford, someone who learned and worked the hard way to get everything she had out of life. This included more money, success, fame, and glamour than any other woman of her day.

Crawford offers advice for every avenue of improving your life in this book -- from making yourself more attractive, to developing charm and manners and grace. It is a blueprint to becoming a lady or gentleman, something that is sadly long extinct in our society, where vulgarity, negativity, and the inability to appreciate beauty are the norm.

Crawford started out on the bottom tier of the caste system and worked her way up to the top, and she learned a lot of priceless things along the way. The primary theme of the book seems to be "appearances matter more than you think," for all the advice is geared towards impressions. Joan will teach you how to mold others' impressions of yourself. And you are obviously learning from a master.

The book is warm, humorous (sometimes unintentionally), and most of all helpful. In this day of long lost social graces, it is possible to revisit and learn an appreciation for the finer things in life with this book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2012
...we let our eyebrows grow, and let our lips be full and natural".

When I first read this little tidbit over 20 years ago i couldn't get out of my head, mainly because:

1. Who would consider Joan's eyebrows at their height of thickness (1955 on) to be "feminine" or "sensuous"!?
(even in the gushfest FOUR FABULOUS FACES, author Larry Carr said they rivalled Groucho Marx)

2. How "natural" was it for Joan's lips to be drawn WAAAY past her actual lip line?

But I digress. Tips on makeup and beauty are only a small part of the vast exercise in regimented living that the legendary Joan Crawford outlines in MY WAY OF LIFE. She offers a few stories on her old Hollywood days, along with her later years as Pepsi-Cola board member and spokesperson. As for the advice on living, she covers it ALL- throwing the perfect dinner party (celery next to cauliflower looks AWFUL!), being a perfect houseguest (stay out of the kitchen and don't pester the host!), being a perfect homemaker, being a perfect spouse (he wants caviar and you can't afford it? Skip the hairdresser a few times!), having perfect posture (sit on hard chairs- soft ones spread the hips) and grooming, dressing perfectly, etc. with nary a moment of rest in between.

To those not familiar (or not enchanted) with the author, Joan Crawford may come off as, at best, somewhat out of touch, at worst more than a bit unhinged in this book. Her heart is in the right place- Joan was fond of telling interviewers about her hectic, meticulously scheduled life, planned down to the most minute detail. Indeed, she believed "disciplined" people are happy people.

Of course, this book almost demands to be approached as the astonishing, often hilarious camp experience that it is. It merits recommendation on that basis alone. BUT, in between the laughs and the manic strides for perfection, it should be said there is the occasional helpful tip.
(Example: her meatloaf recipe is actually one of the best I've ever had).
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