‘We whooped it up off the set, but he turned out to be a real b*****d,’ she said.‘He did cute things like stepping on my toes when we were doing a love scene — after he chewed on some garlic.’When they divorced only four years later, the large settlement awarded to Terry almost destroyed her financially.

Crawford was ten years older than Mc Cambridge and did not appreciate director Nicholas Ray favouring her younger rival with the picture’s few close-ups.

Late one evening, she tore Mc Cambridge’s costumes to shreds and had them strewn over the nearby highway.

He read her Shakespeare, Ibsen and Shaw and, after their marriage in 1935, encouraged her to hold formal dinner parties with the correct wines for every course and harpists providing the background music.

If she hoped this might make her heavy-drinking co-star more ­pliable during filming, she was to be disappointed.

It was not that Crawford had any problems ­attracting men.

During the filming of the movie Queen Bee in 1955, other cast members recalled how she and leading man John ­Ireland often arrived for work late and dishevelled thanks to their erotic high jinks.

Unfortunately, she was also ­‘unutterably lonely’ as she told a friend at the time.

She found real ­happiness with Alfred Steele, the Pepsi-Cola executive she married the same year, but it was short-lived.

With Christina and Christopher away at boarding school, and the twins looked after by a nanny, she began living at the studio from ­Monday to Friday in a dressing room contained within one of the sound stages.‘Sometimes I go over to the empty set and walk it, rehearsing.’ Even in this self-imposed isolation, she knew that she had to be ­constantly ‘on’ for her fans. ‘If people wanted to see Joan Crawford the star, they were going to see Joan Crawford the star — not a character actress in blue jeans.’Now approaching 50, she was drinking heavily.

Her beauty depended increasingly on elaborate foundation garments and heavy make-up, and she became increasingly fearful of being eclipsed by younger actresses.

Her father deserted the family home shortly after Crawford was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1906.