Watch Joan Crawford: Always the Star (1996) : Free. Glamorous and hugely popular Joan Crawford raised herself from brutal poverty to Academy Award-winning stardom by guts, determination and hard work. During her fifty-year career, she made over eighty films. But her obsessive perfectionism led to the later caricature of coat-hanger-wielding harridan that even the adoration of fans could not counter. Still, she has endured as one of the most popular icons of the movies, an early role model to a million young women who aspired to her image of stylish magnetic power and unquestioned independence.