13 June 2009

Free Associations, Ep. 9A: Taking the Joke too Far

In the last installment in my series of often bizarre free associations, I ruminated on the similarities between actress Joan Crawford and dictator Joseph Stalin, two of history's most memorable megalomaniacs. The similarities, it must be said, do not end with Mommie Dearest and Uncle Joe themselves. If Joan Crawford is the equivalent Stalin, it may be said with some--although not too much--certainty that Myrna Loy is the equivalent of Klim Voroshilov.
Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov was one of Joseph Stalin's closest and most loyal accomplices, having served alongside him during the Russian Civil War. Likewise, Myrna Loy (nee Myrna Williams) began her Hollywood career at the same time as Joan Crawford; the two appeared as extras in the 1925 MGM production Pretty Ladies, and thereafter became life-long friends. Appropriately enough, Voroshilov was appointed both the Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council and the "People's Commissar for Military and Navy Affairs" that same year. Myrna would receive an honorific title of her own, eventually attaining the rank of "Queen of Hollywood" in 1938 (not quite the same thing as Marshall of the Soviet Union, but it's in the same ballpark).

Naturally, there are a few minor differences. Primary among these must be the fact that Myrna never threw her former comrades under the proverbial bus for the sake of purging opposition from the party (although she might have, had Joan asked her to). Secondly, Myrna never had the honor of having a tank named after her (although she damned well deserved it!). Finally, it has to be said that Klim Voroshilov was rather a bumbler, both on and off the battlefield--his less than stellar leadership cost the Soviet Union tremendous casualties during the Winter War, and he later made an ass of himself by dropping the ceremonial Sword of Stalingrad when it was presented to him (whilst Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt were watching, no less!). Myrna would never have conducted herself in such a shameful manner in the presence of her superiors. Furthermore, she no doubt would have crushed the Finnish army in a matter of days, had she been in charge.

One final thought: if Joan Crawford is Stalin and Myrna Loy is Voroshilov, I suppose that would make Christina Crawford the equivalent of Yakov Dzhugashvili.

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