Wednesday, September 21, 2011

FLASHBACK: Joan Crawford Takes Daughter's Soap Opera Role 1968 (Updated With Audio!)

Joan Crawford Takes Daughter's Soap Opera Role

by Robert Windeler
New York Times
October 23, 1968

Joan Crawford, the 60-year-old screen queen, will play a 24-year-old housewife in the daytime soap opera THE SECRET STORM for four segments beginning Friday, in place of her daughter, who is recovering from an operation.

Christina Crawford, who is 27, and the eldest daughter of Joan Crawford's four adopted children, is a star on the Columbia Broadcasting System serial. She plays the woman in the midst of a divorce action. She became ill last Wednesday during shooting of the daily series and was rushed to University Hospital, where she underwent surgery for an ovarian tumor.

Joan Crawford volunteered to fill in for her daughter "because I didn't want them to give the part to someone else," she said yesterday. "They panicked at C.B.S. and said, 'You've got to be kidding. We can't afford you.' I said 'I'll do it for nothing,' but I'm afraid they'll have to give me scale. I'll pay my hairdresser with my scale."

Scale for each half-hour segment of a daytime taped series is $165, according to the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists contract with C.B.S. However, Miss Crawford will make $595 for the four shows under a package rate.

Miss Crawford said she told her daughter: "I'll never be as good as you, but I'll keep the spot warm for you."

"They asked me about it the day after I was operated on," Christina Crawford recalled yesterday. "it was coming to me through a fog, and I couldn't exactly jump up and down in bed about it, but I do remember thinking that it was fantastic that she would care that much."

Joan Crawford is playing opposite Keith Charles, an actor in his late 20's, who plays Christina Crawford's husband, Nick Kane, also in his late 20's, in THE SECRET STORM.

This was no problem for Joan Crawford: "Isn't he beautiful, I thought to myself. So be 24."

Mark Lediar, the show's associate producer, said of the sudden switch: "The viewers become so involved with these people who perform that any change of player is an intrusion on their involvement. Credibility is already thrown to the winds anyway."

The only rewriting done by John Hess, the show's writer, was to limit Joan Crawford's appearances to five major scenes in four segments (this Friday, next Monday, Wednesday and Thursday). The character will then be written out until Christina Crawford is able to rejoin the show. She says her doctor has said that will be "after November 11."

THE SECRET STORM, seen here at 3 P.M. on Channel 2, is in its 17th season. The show is taped, but usually only three days in advance. Christina Crawford joined the show last April and has a contract that will keep her on at least through next September.

Miss Crawford has taped two of the shows and will tape two more Sunday.

Christina Crawford was previously in the national company of "Barefoot in the Park," and several films, among them the current Faces.

The mother and daughter Crawfords have never appeared together, except on television talk shows and one telethon, but Joan Crawford says she has always encouraged her daughter in show business.

"She was literally wheeled onto the set of my pictures as an infant. She grew up surrounded by lights. I've introduced her to every actor and director I've ever worked with. And then I started with the producers here: She wants to do only theater."

Audio from Joan's appearance on THE SECRET STORM was recently uploaded to YouTube! Listen below.

***Special Thank You to Robert Reid for sharing this clip!

- FLASHBACK: SECRET STORM Canceled (Coming Daytime Trends) 1974
- FLASHBACK: Daytime Delilahs 1964


  1. What a gift you, and this site, are Roger!

    Total heaven, this post! So at odds with the "Mommie Dearest" rendition of this anecdote.

    Thank you!

  2. Its quite obvious chritina spun this story to fit her trash of a book.

  3. Christina spun nothing. I watched this on the television at our little cafeteria at LIU and we all howled at Crawford, we knew she was a preposterous relic even then. Sure she played it like a 24-year old, but as a 60-year old over-wrought alcoholic chain smoker playing a 24-year old in the year 1932. Absurd and she was absolutely hilarious. The timing was perfect because it happened right around Halloween.

    1. This is horrible, but you just made me wish that clip had video.

  4. ...and if you watch the reenactment in the Paramount film MOMMIE DEAREST, you will notice that they are acting on the "Happy Days" set! How could they think no one would notice that!? Belita Moreno is a hoot as "Belinda Rosenberg," the producer of the soap based on (I believe) Gloria Monty.

    1. Coincidentally, I just saw most of "Mommie Dearest," again, rather recently on the MOVIES! digital sub-channel.

      Please tell me something--how can one tell it is the "Happy Days" set in "Mommie Dearest?" Where should one look to see some clues to this?

      I am familiar enough (I think) with "Happy Days" to notice something fairly obvious anyway. I will say I was more a fan of the CBS sitcoms (many produced by Norman Lear in that era, such as "All in the Family" and "Maude," etc., as well as the MTM sitcoms such as "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Bob Newhart Show") than those Garry Marshall-produced comedies on ABC. But I have also seen "Happy Days" enough in reruns I should probably have noticed the major sets. Thank you.


  5. Nelson, you crack me up! I noticed that it was the Happy Days set, too! I thought it was funny. I love to read, hear, or see anything about the Crawford's, however, I reserve judgement because there are so many advocates for BOTH sides of the coin. In this case, it is impossible to tell what is true and what isn't. I love the audio though. Someone said thank you to "Robert Reid". Is this THE Robert Reid from the Brady Bunch, or just a coincidence?

  6. Robert Reed, not Reid was on "The Brady Bunch".

    1. Thsnk you i was just going to say that plus no similarity

  7. Robert Reed, not Reid was on "The Brady Bunch".

  8. My recent interview with Christina:

  9. And, Robert Reed is, and has been for several years, quite, quite dead.

  10. Good gravy, she's really awful in that second clip.

  11. WTF? Were all the people involved on stupid pills?

  12. Like someone said, this was hilarious and probably one of the worst recast in all of soap opera history.