Why MGM Hid the Scar of A Woman's Face

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Despite the important plot point of Joan Crawford’s character in A Woman’s Face having a prominent facial scar, MGM didn’t want to draw attention to it. The studio feared that audiences would think it was a horror film.

The scar was the work of makeup artist Jack Dawn, known for his work on The Wizard of Oz, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and many more films. The scar’s application took hours, and Joan called it a “hideous mass of seared tissue”.

Director George Cukor was impressed with his leading lady.

"She never complained about the heavy, disfiguring make up. She let me direct her and do special exercises to help bring forth the performance I knew she could give,” said Cukor. “I really think she put on hundred percent into it. I think she got across the struggle she was undergoing in the second half of the film."

Crawford was similarly pleased with her director and wrote in her autobiography: “I say a prayer for Mr. Cukor every time I think of what A Woman’s Face did for my career. It fortified me with a measure of self-confidence I’d never had.”