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Joan Crawford (born Lucille Fay LeSueur; March 23, 190? – May 10, 1977) was an American film and television actress who began her career as a dancer in traveling theatrical companies before debuting as a chorus girl on Broadway. Crawford then signed a motion picture contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1925; her career spanned six decades, multiple studios, and controversies. At different stages of her career, she was noted for her diverse roles playing sympathetic and unsympathetic characters, and for realistic yet multi-layered performances. Her films ranged in genres from contemporary crime, melodramas, film noir, several historical costume dramas, romances, mysteries, musicals, suspense, horror, to three westerns and over a dozen comedies. Regardless, her greater successes and perhaps most memorable performances were in romantic dramas and melodramas. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Crawford tenth on its list of the greatest female stars of Classic Hollywood Cinema. In the 1930s, Crawford's fame rivaled and later surpassed that of MGM colleagues Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo. Though she started portraying flappers, Crawford often played wealthy women in distress (Dance, Fools, Dance, This Modern Age, Letty Lynton, No More Ladies, I Live My Life, Susan and God) or hard-working young women who found romance and success (Our Dancing Daughters, Paid, Laughing Sinners , Dancing Lady, Sadie McKee, The Last of Mrs. Cheyney, The Shining Hour, The Bride Wore Red, Mannequin). These characters and stories were well received by Depression-era audiences, and were popular with women. Crawford became one of Hollywood's more prominent movie stars, and one of the higher-paid women in the United States.

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