What Joan Would Do

It's that time of year when we are all setting resolutions and actually believing we will adhere to them and become creatures of perfection.

In this spirit, I thought I would offer a few words of wisdom on how to live well from the woman who taught me that wire hangers are just not on. Yes, that's right, Mommie dearest herself, Joan Crawford. You may even add a few new items to your list.

"That old saw, 'When in doubt, don't,' is never so true as when it comes to clothes. Or getting married." Joan knows of what she speaks, and shares many other pearls in the 1971 masterpiece
My Way of Life.

On how to accessorize:

"My rule: Don't buy a dress until you can afford all the right accessories and if, like me, you can't spend your life in hair curlers, have a hat made to match. I always get a yard and a half of extra of the fabric I've ordered for a new dress. Half a yard for gloves and a yard for a turban or breton."

On throwing a successful party:

"The best parties are a wild mixture. Take some corporation presidents, add a few lovely young actresses, a bearded painter, a professional jockey, your visiting friends from Brussels, a politician, a hairdresses, and a professor of physics, toss them all together, and try to get them to stop talking long enough to eat!"

On how to lose weight:

"At times I've deliberately gained weight. I did for
Mildred Pierce because I thought it suited the part....But the best condition I was ever in was when I was doing What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? in a wheel chair. I had to wheel myself around, push back and forth, turn quickly, and I was the thinnest I've been in years....(Get a wheel chair and try doing your housework in it!)"

On Packing:

"I always pack in daylight. In artificial light when I'm in a hurry it's too easy to grab the wrong accessories and find myself in Kansas City or San Juan with a hot pink dress and a shocking pink hat - and that's a catastrophe."

On Cleaning:

"I had no one to help me [clean] and I didn't want to spen two months making beds and scrubbing bathrooms. I called a neighbor who put his maid on the phone. 'I know someone for you,' she said. 'But I don't know whether you can put up with her. She's never heard of a bucket or mop.'

'Handsies, kneesies?' I asked.

'Yep,' she replied.
'Bring her over tomorrow morning. That's just my cup of tea. I never did think you could get into corners with any mop. '"

On regrets and being yourself:

"People are always asking me if there's anything I regret, or would change. The answer is no! Not a thing. If I hadn't had the pain I wouldn't be me. And I like being me. Everyone should. I have a friend who says 'Treasure yourself.'

"I follow that advice by doing a certain amount of self-pampering. I surround myself with happy colors - yellow, coral, hot pink, and Mediterranean blues and greens. I've persuaded myself that I hate things that are bad for me - fattening foods, late nights, and loud and aggressive people head the list. I'm friends with myself, so I do things that are good for me, otherwise I couldn't be good for others. I spend my time with people I'm fond of, and that includes my working time, too."

Photo credits: Top and bottom by by Eve Arnold - click here to read about Ms. Arnold's wild experiences photographing Joan; #2 by Joseph Griffiths, #3 Warner Bros. Publicity Photo, #4 from Whatever happened to Baby Jane?