Though many stars paid assistants to correspond with fans, Crawford wasn’t one of them. Throughout her career, she personally responded to her fan mail, typing letters herself and signing them in her own hand. In fact, Crawford wrote so many of these letters and signed so many photos through the years that her signature is considered extremely common —and therefore not valuable to memorabilia collectors.
“Sometimes people question why I love my public so,” she said. “It’s because the studio didn’t make me a star. They gave me the chance to be one. It’s the audiences that made me a star. I never forget them or what I owe them.”
Joan’s relationship with her fans was one of her most valued. She replied to millions of fan letters from 1925-1977. She always referred to her fans as “friends” and did become close friends with many of them. One such example would be Betty Barker; a fan turned friend whom Joan decided to take in as her personal secretary. She knew Joan for 40 years. Joan showed great honesty, kindness, and generosity towards her fans. They were the ones who made her a star and she wanted to repay them. Her long lasting correspondence with many of her fans was due to her obvious trust in them. She opened up to them possibly more than people in her personal life. An excerpt from a letter to a fan dated 1927 is one of the earliest examples of how real and honest she could be:
“…I’m home now. Home where I can run away from everyone and hide till I want to come out of my shell. Home where I’m able to relax. Home where the bear walls know my every secret. Well, after all Dan, don’t you understand? It’s just my home, the only place where I am able to hide, the only place in all the world I can run to and as I walk in my front gate and close it it seems as if I’m closing the gate to all activities, all human beings and deeds. I’m in my world, to do as I will. Now do you know? My walls do not expect me to act, to be a woman or to be a lady. They expect only the child, who plays with her toys, or they expect my tears.”