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When Joan Crawford’s name came up for the part of Mildred Pierce, director Michael Curtiz didn’t think she’d be a good fit, especially since rumors of her diva behavior proceeded her.
He said, “Not only are her shoulders too big, but her head is too.”
But Joan wanted the part, and after campaigning for it, she convinced the director that she had what it took.
Later, when the wardrobe department struggled to find the right look for the character, Crawford took it upon herself to buy shoulder-pad-free housedresses she thought would work.
Curtiz, however, assumed she was trying to sneak in shoulder pads and ripped up the dress, feeling the need to assert his leadership over hers.
Despite the incident, the two eventually worked well together, though the issue of shoulder pads still came up.
Ann Blyth, who played Veda said, “[Joan] and Mike Curtiz used to go 'round and 'round about her shoulder pads in her suits particularly. And as you can see [in the film], they were still out to [there], so I guess she won that argument.”
After the film was completed, Joan gifted the director with a pair of oversized shoulder pads.