During the first half of 1974, Joan kept herself out of the public eye. She was reluctant to make public appearances, and Joan started to see herself as an “ex movie star”. While she was inactive from the cameras, she was tied down with many appointments and illnesses. Joan was suffering from Periodontal Disease and Bacterial Infections in the jaw, which caused her to undergo several painful operations.
In May, Joan was complaining of sore gums and didn’t know what was wrong until she was diagnosed with periodontal disease on May 24th. This caused Joan to rest up at home with the occasional company of a few close friends.
On July 17th, Joan was hospitalized to undergo serious dental surgery. After a few days in hospital, Joan was discharged. Recovering at home, Joan preferred to be left alone for awhile. She had a few visitors check in on her to see how she was. She complained about the painful dental work and would rather avoid the subject. When the Writer, Adele Whitely Fletcher, whom Joan had known for fifty years called & wanted to see her, Joan explained that she was having painful dental work done, “Which I would rather you not mention. I don’t want everybody clucking that I’m really having a facelift. When I do, I’ll say so myself.”
By September, Joan was fully recovered & ready to welcome friends for dinner. On September 16th, Joan found out that she is to serve as hostess at a party honoring her good friend Rosalind Russell, to be held at the Rainbow Room, on September 23rd. Joan agreed, and was looking forward to seeing Rosalind again.
At the time, Rosalind was very ill and suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis and the side effects from her daily Cortisone injections. She was also worried after receiving the news that she had been diagnosed with Cancer, which she kept discreet. Though she remained strong that night and put on a brave front.
The whole night, Joan and Rosalind Russell were swarmed by photographers and press taking photos, which were to appear in the newspapers the next day. When Joan read the newspaper the next morning, she was horrified to see unflattering photos of herself and Russell. Joan put down the paper and said, ” If that’s the way I look, they’ve seen the last of me.”
True to her word, Joan cancelled all upcoming engagements, including a charity fashion show, in which Joan was to appear in November. That was the last the public ever saw of Joan. She spent the rest of her life a recluse, hardly venturing out of her New York Apartment and only seeing close friends and family...