Ferocious Ambition: Joan Crawford’s March to Stardom

Univ. Pr. of Mississippi. Oct. 2023. 400p. ISBN 9781496846518. $38. BIOG
Dance (The Savvy Sphinx: How Garbo Conquered Hollywood) exceeds his promise to deliver more than just another biography about Joan Crawford, digging deeper into the reasons behind her lifelong drive for fame. The book examines the relationships she cultivated to craft the movie star identity she craved. It also discusses the choices she made to transform herself based on industry standards and box-office demands. Crawford was a legend who understood the power of the press and the role fans played in actualizing celebrity status, Dance argues. His book is as much about her strategic moves as it is about stardom, which adds an interesting angle: she was a woman who built herself. It’s beautifully illustrated with more than 120 photographs that illuminate the poise and personality Crawford exhibited even in her earliest days.
VERDICT This skillfully written, engaging, and carefully referenced biography will appeal to fans of old Hollywood glamour and to readers interested in the social construction of gender, especially within the context of the film industry.
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