She only made a handful of films, none classics, though two or three are worth seeing.
No. Her big claim to Hollywood fame was her hasty marriage to a car salesman, Kirby Weatherly.
Joan was the daughter or writers Katherine Albert and Dale Eunson, and for a while Joan Crawford was her mother’s best friend. In fact Joan was named for Crawford and Crawford was her Godmother.
There are conflicting stories of how she got into the movies.
She was only 14 when she made her first film Roseanna McCoy, for Samuel Goldwyn. Her parents said she was 16. It didn’t matter. She starred with Farley Granger in a tale about those feuding families, the Hatfields and McCoys. Then she had a supporting role in the Granger-Ann Blyth film, Our Very Own, and was in Granger’s next film Edge of Doom.
Her career was on the rise. Her parents wrote a script for her, On the Loose, about a suicidal teenager, which was done at RKO, and gave her top billing. Yes, she was billed over Melvin Douglas and Lynn Bari, who played her parents.
Then MGM signed her and costarred her with Esther Williams and Vivian Blaine in a navy comedy, Skirts Ahoy.
She was not yet 18. But she had met Weatherly and wanted to get married. Her mother and father objected and her mother sent the couple over to talk with her Godmother. She expected Crawford to talk the youngsters out of it. Instead Joan Crawford did just the opposite. By the end of the day the couple were married. And Joan phoned the Eunsons to tell them so.
In his 1988 memoirs Dale Eunson wrote: “She set the whole thing up behind our backs. She called the judge, and the press. She didn’t invite us to our own daughter’s wedding… Our daughter was close to Joan for a while, and her marriage became a lasting success, but Katharine refused to speak to Crawford again.”
What insiders knew was that Katherine and Dale had sold a script, The Star, which many said was loosely based on Joan Crawford’s life and career. Bette Davis was shooting the film while all this was happening.
That film, which costarred Sterling Hayden and Natalie Wood, would garner Davis another Oscar nomination. She competed that year against Crawford (for Sudden Fear) It was the only time they were both nominated in the same year. It was Crawford’s last nomination.
Joan Evans’ film career faltered after her marriage. Although one notable film was the Audie Murphy starrer, No Name on the Bullet. Then she turned to TV and worked through the 50s and early 60s.
She, like Mickey Kuhn, is still with us, enjoying her old films on TCM. And by the way they appeared together in On the Loose.