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December 16, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: Joan Crawford


Joan Crawford, Flapper

While Joan Crawford was not born in Buckingham County, she had significant Buckingham blood running through her veins.  Born Lucille Fay LeSueur in Texas, she was the daughter of Thomas E. LeSueur (1868-1938), who descended from the LeSueur and Ayres families of Buckingham.

According to Coz. Harry Holman, Susan Hales (Ayres) LeSueur, the daughter of John Hales Ayres, was the matriarch of this line and was born in Buckingham County c. 1796. Sometime in the 19th century her large family settled in Nashville, Tennessee.  In 1880, she can be found there, age 84, living with her son, Edwin LeSueur, age 63, and numerous grandchildren.

Susan’s grandson, James Howell LeSueur, was the father of Tom LeSueur, who in turn was the father of   Lucille Fay LeSueur, who danced her way to Hollywood as Lucille LeSueur (also using the name Billie Cassin, her stepfather’s surname).  She made several films as Lucille LeSueur.  Then, when MGM decided the energetic flapper showed promise, maybe even star power, the studio held a contest for a new name.  (LeSueur, the moguls thought, sounded too much like sewer.)  The winning name was Joan Arden but, as it turned out, it was already the screen name of another actress.  Thus, Lucille became Joan Crawford.  The rest is one of the most complex stories in Hollywood history.

According to Crawford’s entry at IMDb, “Her popularity grew so quickly after her name was changed to Joan Crawford that two films in which she was still billed as Lucille LeSueur: Old Clothes (1925) and The Only Thing (1925) were recalled, and the billings were altered.”

The surname Lesueur/LeSueur is notoriously misspelled on census records.  Can a Slate River Ramblings reader help connect Susan Hales (Ayres) LeSueur to James Howell LeSueur to Thomas E. LeSueur?


Leave a Comment
  1. Janet Ayres / Dec 16 2013 3:59 pm

    Had you heard of this connection?????   Interesting!!!


    • Joanne Yeck / Dec 16 2013 4:36 pm

      Janet, It appears that Joan Crawford was an Ayres. Have fun spreading the word!

  2. Joanne Yeck / Dec 16 2013 2:33 pm

    Thanks for this proposed line. Perhaps, another Slate River Ramblings reader can prove it.

  3. njw66 / Dec 16 2013 2:29 pm

    I don’t have the proof, but my notes have give the following: Susah Hales Ares married Charles LeSuer in 1811, their daughter Mary Ann Jane LeSuer born 1822 married Samuel Wesley LeSueur born 1817 (the son of James LeSuer and Mary Wilkinson). Mary Ann Jane Lesueur and Samuel Wesley Lesueur were the parents of James Howell LeSueur , the father of Thomas E. Lesuer.

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