Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur in San Antonio, Texas, on the 23rd of March, 1904 (The year is still disputed, as different sources list 1903, 1905, 1906 or 1908).

From the early childhood Lucille was dreaming about becoming a fine dancer. She was working a lot, but one day she accidentally cut her foot on a broken glass bottle, which prevented her from attending school for a year and a half. After several difficult operations the stubborn girl recovered and returned to dancing.

Under the name Lucille LeSueur, Crawford began dancing in the choruses of traveling revues and was spotted dancing in Detroit by producer Jacob J. Shubert. Shubert put her in the chorus line for his 1924 show, Innocent Eyes, at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway in New York City. While appearing in Innocent Eyes Crawford met a saxophone player named James Welton. The two were allegedly married in 1924 and lived together for several months, although this supposed marriage was never mentioned in later life by Crawford.

Her first film where she is credited as Lucille LeSueur was 'Lady of the Night' in 1925 that starred Norma Shearer in a dual role, Joan was an uncredited body double for Ms Shearer.

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