In 1939 she divorced Franchot and adopted a daughter named Christina. Joan would later adopt a son, Christopher, and twin daughters, Cynthia and Cathy. She married Phillip Terry, an actor, in 1942 but the marriage ended four years later. After making a series of flops MGM dropped her contract. She made a comeback with the 1945 drama Mildred Pierce and won an Academy Award for her performance. Two years later she was nominated for another Oscar for her role in Possessed. Joan married Pepsi-Cola executive Alfred Steel in 1956. After his death she served on the board of directors of Pepsi-Cola. In 1963 she teamed up with her longtime rival Bette Davis to make the horror film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. Now in her fifties Joan had a serious drinking problem and was having trouble finding work. She appeared in low budget movies like Berserk and Trog. Joan died on May 10, 1977, from pancreatic cancer. She was cremated and her ashes were interred at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. In her will she left a small sum of money to Cathy and Cynthia but gave nothing to Christopher and Christina. A few years later Christina wrote a book, Mommie Dearest, that portrayed Joan as an abusive mother. Cathy and Cynthia have always disputed Christina's claims.
~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2013