Friday, February 8, 2008

Historian

Above: A screen shot of me from the featurette Tough Baby - Torch Song.

On February 12th I make my debut to DVD! The Joan Crawford DVD Box Set Volume II comes out on February 12th and I am on two small documentaries featured on two of the DVDs in the box set. I am honored that I was part of this production but let me give a little background about how it all started.

Most everyone that knows me knows that I have a passion for the late actress, Joan Crawford. Researching her has been an amazing adventure and I started a Website honoring her in 2004 (legendaryjoancrawford.com). It was a small tacky Website with not a lot of content, but I decided to keep adding to the site and researched and learned more on Crawford as time went on. By 2007, my site had evolved into a very classy, informative site and currently it’s one of the best sites on Crawford.


Above: Director Peter Fitzgerald and me.

I was approached in mid-2007 by a filmmaker, Peter Fitzgerald, to supply some photos for the upcoming second DVD box set on Crawford. He had found my Website and was impressed by all the amazing photos and the design. Luckily, I own a good majority of the photos on my site - in order to use photographs for film or print, you have to be able to scan in the original photo. After talking with Peter, we both expressed a passion for Crawford and I was invited to be interviewed for the documentaries he was filming. I was honored and excited that I was going to become a part of Crawford history, forever on a mini documentary and DVD that will be around long after I am gone. I am so grateful that I was chosen for this project:-)

Above: Me on the sound stage in LA.

When I arrived to the studio in LA I looked around at the vast studio and was really amazed by all the lighting and the huge set, I always get a kick out of seeing what goes on behind the scenes. As I entered the studio, I saw a short blond woman dressed appropriately for her age. She was smiling from ear to ear with a Cheshire cat sort of grin. As I approached the woman I felt my body turn hot and my hands get sweaty, it was the infamous Christina Crawford. I was introduced to Christina, she looked much younger than her 68 years of age, I was polite and cordial to her, I wanted to ask her so many questions and confront her on “Mommie Dearest” but I am not some crazy person that is going to fly off the handle. She held her hand out to me as if she wanted me to kiss her hand, I smiled, took her hand and shook it. She was with her friend, the daughter of one of the famous Andrew sisters. I just stared at this woman and thought this is the adopted daughter of Joan Crawford and although she made the distasteful and mostly untruthful “Mommie Dearest,” she still held knowledge, true first hand knowledge about Joan Crawford and I wanted to hear the “truth” come out of her.

Christina was being interviewed and I was invited to watch her give an interview. I sat behind the camera and watched her prepare herself for the camera. She took several sips of water and then the camera started rolling. In my amazement, Christina was very sympathetic and compassionate for the majority of the interview. I had never seen this side of her portrayed in any of her interviews before on TV. No mention of "Mommie Dearest," no rambling on about wire hangers, no Joan bashing. She talked about a wide variety of topics form her favorite Joan movies, the first Joan movie she ever saw (which was "Humoresque") and the troubles Joan went through later in life. She also told some “real” stories about Joan that were sympathetic and sweet. She talked about how loving she was and how beautiful and talented she was in her early days. There were a few jabs here and there towards Joan and of course those are the pieces that used for the small parts that Christina appeared on. Christina's interview was cut down drastically for the featurettes on the box set (Christina was also interviewed for the release of Daisy Kenyon, but she was completely cut out of that documentary). She was probably the most real and truthful she has ever been and I was thankful that she was shedding this kind of light on Joan, but in essence it's too little too late. It will be interesting to see what was used on the DVDs and what was cut out.

Above: Christina Crawford and me at the filming of the featurettes.

Since, Christina is going to be featured in the upcoming Joan Crawford box set, I am at least grateful that she has moved on in some ways, SOME ways. She still touched on a few topics that were not pleasant. I am still not a fan of Christina and I still don’t like the woman for “ exaggerating” her memories of Joan Crawford. It was still fascinating to actually hear someone talk about Joan that actually knew her, saw her, touched her and loved her. It was quite amazing for me. I talked with a few other old friends of Joan that were there as well and learned so much about Joan, I got a true sense of Joan and what she was like first hand. These stories, history, memories are something that I have in my head, will write down and share with the current fans and future fans. Many of the people that Joan knew personally are dead. Everyone, besides Christina and the film crew were over 80 years old that personally knew Crawford. Who knows, some day I could be that 80 year old talking about Joan Crawford to a young fan trying to learn more about the famous actress.

Above: Me at Grauman Chinese Theater placing my hands in Joan's hand prints.

Being a huge Joan Crawford fan, probably one of he biggest, it's pretty amazing to have met Christina. Even though I'm not fond of her, she is a part of Joan Crawford history and that is what I am doing with the Website and my book. I am researching, I am a historian on Joan Crawford and to really research and get a feeling for Joan Crawford or any other person in history that you have to research the good AND the bad it was pretty powerful to hear Christina's interview.

After Christina's interview, she said her goodbyes and changed out of her matronly outfit into sweatpants and a t-shirt. It was interesting to see her in this light, she is 68 years old and she looked good for her age - I will give her that much. She also seemed to have a bit more of a sense of humor once she was away from the camera. But one thing that didn't go way was the diva-like nature. She had her demands about the flight and the car that was picking her up. I am sure she thinks she IS "Joan Crawford" in a way. Scroll down to bottom of page to read some facts and myths about Mommie Dearest.

Above: The make-up artist, Veronica and me, she was soooo sweet!

All in all my entire interview went well, I had fun with it and enjoyed the experience. I had never done an interview on camera and I thought I did a great job. I was filmed for three of the featurettes but only made the cut on two of them: Crawford and Gable which is on the DVD for the movie "Strange Cargo"(1940) this is the last of eight films Joan made with the legendary Clark Gable. Then I am on Tough Baby: Torch Song from the film "Torch Song" (1953) which is a very campy Technicolor film. I was also credited on all three of the features for use of my photographs.

The experience was wonderful and I will be featured in another Joan Crawford DVD, which is coming out next month! Don't forget to pick up your copy of the Joan Crawford Box Set Volume II; you will be surprised at how great the five films are!


Above: Click on the above article where Christina clearly states that the whole wire hanger scene in the movie Mommie Dearest never happened. Christina says, "A lot of the things in the movie were fictionalized." - Unreal.

Myths about
Mommie Dearest


Here are some clarifications to certain scenes from the movie Mommie Dearest:

  • In the film Christopher was strapped into his bed at night. Christina describes this harness as a "torture device." TRUTH: There was a very good reason Christopher was strapped into bed - he had a terrible sleep walking problem and he actually almost fell down a flight of stairs because of his sleepwalking. Joan went to a doctor about this problem and the doctor gave Joan the bed harness. This is why Christopher was strapped into the bed. Joan had a hard time sleeping because she was so worried Christopher was going to get up during the night, sleepwalking, and harm himself. It was all good intentions from Joan - I am sure Christina saw this and was horrified her "little brother" was being strapped into the bed. Christina was like 4 or 5 years old and I am sure seeing that for her was a bit odd and traumatic, as it would be to any child BUT Christina should really have investigated the reasoning to this and not turn the bed straps into what she calls a "torture device" - It was not a torture device in any way.
  • Night raids. In the film, Mommie Dearest, one of the most famous scenes is when Faye Dunaway is in her kabuki style makeup raiding the closest, checking on the children and shouting No More Wire Hangers! THE TRUTH: Joan did have her nighttime rituals where she would put lotions, creams and other beauty products to help her stay young. What woman today doesn’t have her beauty rituals in today's society with the vain culture we have? I am sure we ALL look scary with the beauty products we use on our skin in the privacy of our own home. The "night raids" That Christina describes were Joan checking in on the children and the household. Joan was a neat freak and she paid several servants damn good money to keep the house in order, Joan wanted to make sure the job was getting done. Joan also grew up extremely poor and worked in a laundry, later she cleaned bathrooms and dorms as a way to pay for her way through schooling. Joan's childhood in the laundry was haunted by wire hangers and having to hang countless clothes on these wire hangers. Wire hangers brought Joan back to the place she never wanted to return to, they were a reminder of her past that she was trying to forget. She requested that no wire hangers ever be in her house at anytime. Christina claims she was smacked with a wire hanger. She may have but I dare you to ask any child that grew up in the 40s, 50s 60s and even 70s who didn’t have parents that had slapped them with a stick, a belt, a brush when they got out of line. Hell, even nuns were known for beating children with wooden rulers in school to keep children in line. I am not condoning hitting children but this WAS the way of the world back then, when kids were out of line they got a good slap whether it be with a hand, belt or wire hanger. The story doesn’t add up though - Christina on several occasions has poked fun at her "abuse" by a wire hanger and has even said that the wire hanger scene in the film was overly exaggerated.
  • Joan was an alcoholic. THE TRUTH: Joan Crawford had an alcohl problem and she wasnt the first or the last celebrity to have a drinking problem. We sometimes forget that Joan was human. Joan's alcohol problem started in the mid 1940s and worsened as time went on. Joan's drinking probelm was probably at it's worst after her 4th husband, Alfred Steele, died in 1959.
  • Leaving Metro. THE TRUTH: Joan was at Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios from 1925 until 1943 (almost 20 years). She spent all of her adult life at the studio making some of the most successful pictures for that studio. Joan fought many men to get parts she wanted; sometimes she won, mostly she lost out to the meaty roles she vied for to other MGM stars like Norma Shearer and Greer Garson. Joan knew her days were numbered at MGM once 1941 came to a close. Joan had already started "shopping around" to see what her options were. In 1942, documents show that Joan was already in talks with rival studio, Warner Brothers, about signing a contract with them. By 1943, Joan already had a plan in place to leave Metro and discussed this with studio head, Louis B. Mayer; they both agreed it was the right thing. Joan in no way wanted to stay at Metro with the scripts they were giving her, she tried to get the plum roles in the early 40s but she was not getting the respect she was entitled to and most of the great parts were going to new comer Greer Garson. MGM also didn't want to keep Joan if they were losing money on her. It was a mutual decision but I am sure Joan was sad and scared about the whole experience. She was at MGM for 18 years and she was leaving her comfort zone, testing new waters and I am sure we can all relate to the fear that brings people. Remember, Joan was human. It turned out leaving Metro was a wise decision and in 1946, Joan won the Best Actress Oscar for her first picture for Warner's, Mildred Pierce.
  • Joan knew about the book. THE TRUTH: Joan sure did know about the book Christina was writing and Christina used that as a tool to throw in Joan's face and torment her with the thought that Christina was writing a book about her. Christina also made it clear that it was not a flattering book and that Christopher was also contributing to it. So, why should Joan leave either one of them anything in her will with knowing this?? They didn’t deserve a dime in Joan’s eyes if they were going to try to take her down after her death and Joan's intuitions were correct. Christina and Christopher did just that. The sad thing is, Joan died after the release of Mommie Dearest, and Christina was a coward in releasing the book after Joan's deaths. Joan was not here to defend herself. Another sign that the book and movie were riddled with little white lies. How would you feel if you had a child or someone close to you taunting you and telling you they were writing a book about you and you knew you’d never get to see what was said. You weren’t able to defend or justify your actions. Not cool.

43 comments:

Patrick Lentz Photography said...

Totally awesome! I'm very excited for you! Can't wait to see it.

Menky said...

Thanks Patrick! I am excited for you to see them too!!

Rachel said...

Wow! I bet Stephanie Jones from "The Best of Everything" Website is green with envy over this! Good for you, Neil.

Dulcette. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
crawford-fan said...

KUDOS to you! What a great blog posting!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes being the good guy pays off in spades!! I am so proud of you and happy for you, you really deserve this - and I will reply to your kind e-mail tomorrow. You have the personal qualities I want to emulate, Neil!

Best,
Julie L.
xo

Nolan said...

I already have the box set and I LOVE the featurettes!! Great job Neil!

Mike said...

I love how that Stephanie bitch is green with envy! She would never have been able to pull off being on the special features. Bravo Neil!

Dennis Lee Cleven said...

Greetings Neil,
Interesting about meeting Christina Crawford. I don't know what is untrue in her book but I am
intrigued to find out. Helen Hayes said, "Joan Crawford tried to be everything to everyone. I just wish
she hadn't been a mother." So, I am interested in learning more about Joan Crawford.
As an ardent Jean Harlow historian, I do know that Joan was not very nice to Jean Harlow and felt very threatened by the popularity Jean had at MGM. Jean made six films with Clark Gable and Joan made eight. Joan stated later that she and Jean used to joke about the so-called feud between them while Douglas Fairbanks,Jr. said Joan loathed Jean. Joan was a fighter, Jean never fought for anything. Aside from Joan's unnecessary loathing of Jean Harlow, I still like Joan as an actress. I have seen films of Joan from the 20s, 30s, and all the way to her last film, "Trog". I do want to see more of the 1930s Joan. She was brilliant in "Rain" and "Grand Hotel".
Thank you for the photos of your meeting with Christina and being a part of the second box set of Joan Crawford films. I do wish Warners Home Video would release a boxed set on Jean Harlow. She deserves it.
And by the way, you are a very handsome man.

Menky said...

Thanks for the comments Dennis! A Harlow box set is long overdue!

Anonymous said...

Patrick, I have to say that I believe Christina. Did you read the book? As the child of a child of an alcholic mother, one who did not abuse me physically, I can tell you that a lot of the book, in terms of the emotional abuse and manipulation, rang true for me. While I love my mother very much, as I think Christina still does, I am coming to terms with the fact that I have to learn a lot of things myself, especially in my relationship, because I did not have a good role model growing up. My mother still talks about her mother with bitterness even 35 years after her death, and nothing I or anyone says can change that.

The need to control, the twisted emotions, the anger that eats the person up inside - it does not just go away because someone is adored by anonymous fans or has a lot of money. In fact, my mother can be very generous to people she hardly knows, and a lot of children of alcoholics are like that. There is just an emptiness that can't be filled because the persons feels like their own parent didn't value them. Some never learn to value themselves, or use the empty praise of others to boost their self-esteem. In order to keep receiving the praise they feel they must maintain a certain public image. Sound familiar?

So you go about trashing Christina in the same way you claim she trashed her mother. Did it occur to you that Crawford's will was public information? If you read that someone was left out of a will deliberately, then you tend to think the person did something to deserve it, and people would naturally tend to believe Joan, so I think the slight was very much to slander Christina and Christopher, and I might have written the same book to set the record straight. These were two children adopted by Joan at exactly the wrong time in her life. She was prohibited from adopting children herself not just because of her marital status but also her family history. And If Christina just wrote the book out of spite, then why is she accepted by authorities as a leading advocate for child abuse and domestic violence awareness? Why not just take the money and run? And don't forget that there were many people who knew Joan who came forward to corroborate Christina's book. What about them?

Unless you were there yourself, or experienced some of the same direct effects of alcoholism and mental illness on family relationships, maybe you should give Christina Crawford a break and stick to lauding Joan Crawford's amazing career.

shanekadozier said...

If one researches J. Crawford's history, he or she would certainly find that Christina Crawford's portrayal of her adopted mother in her book, "Mommie Dearest" may just be a litte more than true!Joan Crawford sufferd from abused as a child and lacked love and through her early life. Statistics show that individuals who have been abused, often have a tendency to follow the cycle of abuse through their children. Knowing this and becoming familiar with the social science of psychology ... why is it so difficult to believe that Joan Crawford could have not been anything but so loving and kind to her children and very well may have been physically and verbally abusive? Sure she was a marvelous actress, one would find it rather difficult to disagree, but in due respect that does not excuse her from being an abusive parent. I was not there and neither were you or not much of anyone else who breathes life today, so hence, it would be wrong of any individual to flat out say that Christina Crawford is a liar! Maybe the book and the film did exaggerate the behaviors and extent of abuse, but hello, it is a "Hollywood World". Even if it was an exaggeration, it does not make the events completely false. I would have stuck to honoring Joan Crawford's legacy and not bashing Christina Crawford. If it were you, what would you have done? Abuse never goes away and memories taint the soul. Even if you were abused in only once, that memory stays with you. Seems to me that Joan Crawford suffered from bipolar disorder or some type of depression. Let us not forget that even some of the people in Hollywood in which she worked closely with, friends and associates verified that Christina was indeed correct on some level; and that Joan was indeed abusive to the children. What about them, are they liars too? No one knows what really happens behind closed doors, not even those of celebrity status. Why not the twins? Haven't you ever heard of parental favoritism? Maybe she loved or liked them more! This is evident in the will and the amount of inheritence she left the twins. Use your brain and your eyes to think and look beyond someone whom is classified as a great and beautiful actress ... "The Infamous Joan Crawford"!

Menky said...

shanekadozier, thank you for your comment. Fair enough argument. My focus is on Joan, not Christina. I really don;t care if she mistreated her children, she was not mother of the year and I know that BUT she provided for those children. I think Joan was very strict, but in no way do I believe she was cruel and beat those children. Christina's accounts at the young age of four are what SHE saw through her eyes. When we are young kids we see things much larger than we are, I came from a strict home and got my fair share of a slap on the ass with a belt. Am I bashing my parents for it no. Christina told her story in 1978 and 1981, there is no need to keep rehashing her abuse. People that are abused don;t keep reliving it for over 30+ years. Plain and simple - Christina wanted to be Joan and never could be and never will.

Anyway, I appreciate your point of view and I agree - I am sticking with Joan. I could care less about Christina.

bartender2c said...

No one knows the truth except the people in that house you should not state something like its a fact if you were not there. It's good that your a FAN but it does not make you right. There are two sides to every story. And being it is now 2008 we have all seen proof of how people can seem one way and years find out that you did not really know your neighbor as well as you thought you did. But from a far your writing about something you not possibly know. And to say that you don't give a damn about the kids just Joan shows why your so keen on bashing Christina and defending Joan two birds think a like. Maybe you think its right to mistreat kids maybe not. But a real writer opens his mind to possiblities,and is bias.

Menky said...

Reply to bartender:

You're right, I was not in the house but Cathy and Cindy were and they totally call Christina's accusations bullshit. So I am siding with the two twin girls on this one.

I was an abused child myself and I don't go drudging up my past every chance I get. Chrisitna aired her dirty laundry with Mommie Dearest, and that was fine and good for her but she has dragged "her abuse" through the mud for over 30 years now and her story keeps changing and she is poking fun at her abuse. Now, for me that is pretty pathetic. Do you see ANYONE else in the media making a career out of their suppossed abusive childhood? Nope. Christina was always jealous of her mother, she was cut out of the will and she is still bitter about it all. Joan is still more popular than Christina.

I know Joan was not mother of the year but most parents aren't, the best parents, especially coming out of the 1940s and 1950s.

Those are my views on the situtation adn I am sticking to em'!

YouStinka! said...

Boy oh boy! Stephanie Jones must be shitting her stinky drawers over all this press your website is getting! WOW! You will forever be linked to Joan in these DVDs! This must be killing her. Love your site by the way - so much more classier than "her" site!

Menky said...

Who is Stephanie Jones?

Anonymous said...

I believe that Christina did go through what she did and Mommie Dearest has helped me, so I am thankful she came out. I don't feel any different about Joan either. It is what it is.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a violent, alcoholic home where I was very physically, emotionally and sexually abused. It was in the sixties and believe me nothing was done about those things back then! It was kept hidden and there was no place for me or my brothers to go to for help. I happen to believe Christina. You cannot judge someone else's life if you weren't there to see it yourself. Speaking for myself, all I wanted from my parents was love and acceptance. People who have not lived through these things don't want to believe that parents can do these things to their kids, but sometimes, they do.

Menky said...

Sorry you had to go through that. I grew up in a dysfunctional home as well. There was abuse and many other things that I kept to myself and then as I got older I shared them, dealt with them, and moved on.

I wasn't there for Christina's childhood. I am only basing my opinions on what she has said over the past 30 years and things don’t add up. Her stories change and she admits to stretching the truth in the film ( I will be posting an article where she is quoted on stretching the truth).

Also, I am just curious - do you celebrate your abuse every ten years? Do you want to relive it every moment for attention? Do you make fun of your abuse? I am sure you don’t and neither do I, but Christina does.

DavisMcDavis said...

Really interesting post - I enjoyed it!

It reminded me of something - I would encourage you to read this interesting article about Christina Crawford on Salon.com: http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/1998/07/01feature.html. I can't say if she tells the truth or not in the book, but I have heard that she does not actually feel the movie is accurate. She really can only be held responsible for the book. That article is really interesting - hope you enjoy it.

Menky said...

Thanks for the post Davis! Interesting link for sure. I am going to post a few articles to this post next week where Christina is quoted.... Thanks for reading the post!

Anonymous said...

I think that anyone who has truely read the book and has also seen the movie can honestly say that he movie was VERY MUCH overboard as compared to Christina's book. As a child who grew up in an abusive home I feel so much empathy for Christina and totally understand how hard it is to cope with the pains of the past, I also I understand that sometimes, especially when you have never been taught how to vent or heal, you don't understand how to properly get over being hurt, even if IT IS 30 YEARS LATER! I feel that every word of Christina's book is true and feel this way because the book is NOT trumped up, unlike the movie, even in parts where the scene could have been made to seem MUCH MUCH worse it wasn't...Christina told it like it happened and didn't add anymore.
As a daughter of an alcholic, bipolar, abusive mother some of the words in the book could have come directly from my own childhood. The night raids, the insanity, the blaming your daughter for your own shortcomings...none of these are things that someone who has NEVER been there could have totally made up.
I understand that it is VERY easy to get stars in your eyes and NOT want to see what is very obviously right in front of your face...not to mention seemingly overlooking the countless people who have come forward to confirm the behaviour that Christina wrote about.
As for the younger daughters it is VERY easy for them not to have seen the behavior that was written about in the book...one reason being that most of the worst abuse took place before they were brought into the house and later over long distance in letters sent to Christina while she was held captive in boarding schools (a fact that has also been confirmed) Joan would surely not be the first parent to love one (or two) of her children more then the rest. I myself can also relate on that level, not in the sense of other siblings but in the sense of other children...as my sister and I can recount countless horror stories of abuse, but our children (yes, we have learned to forgive and move on BUT WE WILL NEVER FORGET) think that our mother is the greatest grandmother in the WORLD...aside from yelling sometimes they think the sun revolves around her and will stay with her at a drop of a hat...We on the other hand know another person, a person long ago buried. A person that could have just as easily been Joan and could have just as easily changed for the twins.
I just think that in the future you should not be content to contend that Christina's stories are lies that she made up but rather speak of them as the truth as she remembers it...or better yet not speak on it at all.

Anonymous said...

Why is it you can't believe that Joan Crawford was abusive. Is it because you like her so much and are in denial that your favorite movie star could have been that mean behind closed doors? Since you weren't there, you can't say what really happened, can you?

Menky said...

It's not that I don't believe that Joan Crawford couldn't have been abusive, I am sure she could have been. Given the facts, lies and contradicting stories that Christina has told - I don't believe she was an abusive parent, but a strict parent with rules and standards. Do I think she slapped Christina on the ass for being a brat now and then - sure do. Do I think it was abuse - no way. Again, anyone who celebrates the anniversary of their "abuse" is not only tapped but is looking for attention and financial gain. I think it's a shame Christina can't come clean. Remember the wire hanger story - it's false - I'll scan in the story that quotes Christina saying that.

tanncamby said...

Great blog and congratulations.
But I have to say, I do believe Christina.
The twins were not mistreated ! They even may have been favored, so of course they dont agree. My brother and I have completely different stories of our childhoods, because were 8 years apart as were Christina and the twins (7 years)
I am sure some of the things she remembers, she remembered as a child, so they could be a bit off.
But I think you have to understand abuse before you
understand what she wrote. Emotional abuse doesn't necessarily mean beatings, beatings come last.
Read a book on emotional abuse and I'm sure you will be shocked, that books on abuse that were written long after Christinas book. Are strikingly similar to Christina's memories. Also tha fact that the twins do not remember the "bad part" does not surprise me at all. They lived a different childhood, it seems they were almost favored. And the "pictures" of the" happiness" are obviously very posed and very fake. Infact you can see the pain on Christina face in he Vanity Fair layout (pg.294 when she was about 12 ot 13. Its almost obvious something wasn't right. I bet she could of told you exactly how that "shoot went and what she was thinking. Maybe she shouldn't of wrote the book, maybe it was therapy.
Either way, I do not believe she lied. Who said she was a spoiled brat? Her sisters her mother?
I do believe that Joan loved her children, and I believe that she most likely did not believe she was abusive at all, most abusers are surprised that they are described as abusive.
Did you know that close friends of abusers usually never know of the abuse, that abusers are only abusive to their children or spouse and seem like the "nicest people ever" to everyone else.
Which is so confusing for children to see there Mother so nice to everyone else, because of this fact, most people NEVER believe the children, which makes it even more confusing and frustrating.
And by the way , yes some people can have a sense of humor about their past abuse, that is not un common at all, especially an actress who might have had many years already to get through this.
Or use acting as an outlet.
Please stick to your love of Joan, and do not put down someone you do not know, you said yourself that Christina was very warm and also shared a loving side of her mother. Its very confusing to love someone who abuses you.

DellaC said...

All I can say is that I wasn't there, but times WERE different then...they were different just 30 years ago with child rearing--and I was there! Unless someone had the rare opportunity to be raised by June and Ward, most people are aware of what kind of discipline was accepted and what wasn't...it IS a whole different ballgame today. Even if one had great parents, backhanding and spanking and yelling were totally acceptable. A parent "losing it" was acceptable also, because kids were kids and parents had the world on their shoulder (that was the mentality). For anyone to use Joan as an example of a monster mother is someone who just wants to bang the victimhood drum using their own skewed version of history. I guess Christina would have been better off with the mom who gave her up...raising her without a dad---BACK THEN! Don't believe it!

Geesh, back then, some poor children worked with their parents in the field all day long. That is never supposed to happen today. I'd put up the field working childrens childhood up against being raised by Joan anyday...oh, and btw, most of those field working children grew up strong individuals who accomplished many things and brag about how hard it was and how it helped them get to where they are today...they don't play victim

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I have recently been meeting young women who have gone to therapy and "discovered" their parents were "abusive." I know the parents and it has been such an upheaval in their lives to be suddenly accused of abuse. One man has almost lost his business, as a result. I'd like to find out more about the kind of therapy this is coming from!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I agree with this: there was hardly a person raised in the 1940's and 50's who wasn't disciplined when they got out of line. If anyone smart-mouthed a parent, the father would grab them by the collar and point his finger between their eyes and say "Don't you EVER say that again!" and they didn't. It was quite effective, and no one wrote a "Mommie Dearest" book until the therapists all decided that they were "abused", and pretty soon, even a harsh voice was considered abuse.

Scott said...

Love your website, and I agree with you regarding the exaggeration of Christina. I was born in 1963, and had a father who was an officer in the Air Force, becoming a Colonel when I was in my early teens. He loved his kids and took us on long vacations (sometimes all summer and cross-country), but he also had a short temper and if you stood up to him he was going to knock you down- which he did many times. I could write a book about him- about the time he punched me in the stomach at the age of 8, about the time he threw me down on the cement on a sidewalk in Brooklyn where he used to work, about him kicking me in the ass so hard with the inside of his foot (not the toe) that I flew up several steps; I could talk about belts, about wooden spoons, about his shoes.... but was he a child abuser? No. All of these incidents were few and far between and they were over within seconds. Had I just said "yes" or sat still and listened to his lecture his short fuse would not have been tested. No excuse for him. But, when asked what he would do if he saw one of his grandchildren treated that way, he turned pale and was very sad. He wasn't a drinker, he wasn't crazy, he just had a short temper and it was easier for him to show anger than it was to cry or to show fear that one of us broke a bone or scraped a knee.... Anyway, Joan was larger than life, a perfectionist, and these episodes were few and far between (if true or exaggerated).

I have the program from the memorial held in Joan's honor after her death, listing who spoke at the funeral, listing all of her films - its a beautifully put together and printed item (in very good condition). I have never seen one online for sale or even on a website - if anyone is interested in acquiring this piece of history, let me know.

I feel sorry for Christina to some degree, but I also feel sorry for Joan, that her star was diminished in a way; but any publicity is good publicity - in that Christina may have sparked interest in Crawford films. I fell in love with Joan after reading Mommie Dearest and then the Thomas biography because of her strength and the fact that she was a self-made, strong character- lover her or hate her, she is fascinating (like Eva Peron).

Best Wishes- SWSimpson
A Crawford fan since 1980

Anonymous said...

I would like it known that there was a Redbook article printed sometime in the mid-80's where every one of Joan's children, apart from Christina, claimed that her tales of abuse were false. So, yes, there is documented evidence from those who actually lived in the house that Christina is full of it.
Keep in mind, those that chose to believe her, that people will make up a lot of crap if it means they get personal publicity or a quick buck off of what they say.
I believe Kevin Spacey's nutjob of a brother is a perfect example. I think I should also bring up the name LaToya Jackson. As soon as the talk shows stopped calling, she retracted every claim she made.
Just because certain types of people want to believe the worst about others, doesn't mean that those things are true.
-Stacey E.

Gia said...

Although I am excited about your enthusiasm regarding Ms Crawford, I feel that Christina and Christopher's abuse was accurate. I do not think that any child would make up abuse. I am a victim of abuse, and If I could I would write a book. Kudos to Christina for coming out with it.

Anonymous said...

A true fan you are and that is respected. However, that has obviously lead you to be biased and closed-minded. It is very clear in your myths/truths that you minimize Joan's negative traits and glamorize her positive. You also seem to contradict yourself occassionaly. For example, you say you believe she was strict and likely used a hanger (as did many other parents those days). Nonetheless, that doesn't make using a wire hanger any less wrong. Just because most parents hit their children w/ hangers didn't make it right. Using the words "most parents" of course means there were parents who did NOT use wire hangers or physical abuse as a form of discipline.

She was undoubtedly a great actress. Her moral character (or anyone's for that matter) behind closed doors, or even in front of the media, cannot be judged by anyone other than those that knew her personally.

Kimberly said...

I have to say, I don't think Christina and Christopher made everything up. I do believe there was abuse and I do believe that some of the experiences were categorized as abusive, not just as a "stern, strict, structured" parent. To use the twins as a basis for saying Christina made it up just because they lived in the same house is absolutely ridiculous. First of all, there is an eight year age difference between Christina and the twins. By the time the twins would have been able to form any accountable memories, they would have been five to six years old - Christina was thirteen to fourteen at that time. What could they have remembered or been able to understand at five or six years old, when you are using that same logic against Christina - that she would have been too young to understand.

I have a brother and two sisters who are seven to ten years older than me. If you placed us in separate rooms, at times, you would think we were talking about completely different parents. My parents were young, traveled a great deal, had three children - one after the other - and their life was different. By the time I came along, they had settled to one house, my father had reached a certain level in his profession, finances were considerably better - it was a completely different experience growing up for me, yet my siblings lived in the same house as I did.

I am not saying that Christina's rememberance of things is dead-on, I am sure it's not. But to discount and say she never experienced abuse, fear or pain in her own home is not fair. None of us were there to know.

There are hostages who learn to have feelings for their kidnappers, there are people who have suppressed memories and do not learn later in life that they suffered abuse sexually or physically - to discount any of these people is wrong, and to discount someone's take on her own past is wrong, too. Did it happen word for word - probably not. But could it have happen? Yes, maybe - but we don't know. But to deny it all together is closed minded - and not fair to children who later in life may feel they have a voice to discuss abuse.

I think its hypocritical to say you don't care about Christina, and then you keep bashing her. Are her "anniversary" of the movie/books a little odd, yes and is monetarily driven? Most probably, yes.

But what pricetag do you put on a miserable childhood? No one can fairly answer that. Lots of people write stories about their horrific pasts - just because Joan Crawford was a celebrity, does she deserve a certain priviledge of privacy?

If Christina made it up, shame on her. But if she didn't - shame on you for automatically assuming a persona on the movie screen is more relative to a person.

cyndi said...

I also feel that the abuse while exaggerated for the movie was there. Disinheriting your children is not acceptable especially for something you "think they may do in the future" who does that? The only one that seems to have a problem realising that Joan Crawford was human is you. Oh my gosh no matter what she did that is widely known you excuse, what is debatable you assure all that it is horrible lies. What if Christina is and was telling the truth? You then have spent all this time and energy worshiping an alcoholic who beat, abused and disinherited her own kids. I certainly dont think she is worthy of such adoration. She WAS human, good and bad, while I do not condemn her I allso dont glorify her. Her work is worth some reverence but frankly, thats it

Anonymous said...

If anyone is interested, I happen to know a look-a-like of Joan; not
just any look-a-like, but a true relative of Joan's.

After many months of researching my own ancestors of
Huguenot Virginia, I was taken back when I was researching the town of
LeSueur, Virgina. I made a web query of "LeSueur". I didn't come up
with the town. I was presented with Lucille LeSueur. Frankly, I
didn't know who this person was, but she had many lines of websites.
When I opened a page, wham Joan Crawford. It had my curiosity at this
point, and I moved on to the pictures of Joan. The first picture
presented was of Joan with Fred Astaire. I was in complete shock!
The picture wasn't of Joan but of Joan's look-a-like, down to the
hairstyle.

I'll not mention her name here for privacy purposes, but I just felt
the need to express if Joan were alive today, wouldn't she like to
know that she has living image of her.

Davetherave said...

If you read her account in Mommie Dearest of the wire hangers scene and then watch it in the movie, you can see the exaggeration in the movie. It's one of the things she didn't like about the movie.

Joan disinherited Christina in 1960 after the Redbook article, The Revolt of Joan Crawford's Daughter. Her disinheritance had nothing to do with any book Christina was writing. And in fact, most of the material in Mommie Dearest had ALREADY been said by other people before Mommie Dearest was written.

I love Joan as an actress and many things about her as a person. It is not necessary to believe in her perfection otherwise to appreciate her, and indeed, if one cannot take the whole person I question whether one really admires someone. If you have to whitewash then you are admiring a fantasy rather than a real person.

Anonymous said...

Uhm...you have a great argument on whether Christina was abused or not, you really do...but so does Christina, and the people on her side. So how do we know who to believe? Team Joan, or team Christina? Both arguments fit, and both have evidence siding with them.
after watching Mommie Dearest for the first time, and reading everything you written about Joan and her daughter, I'm just...pretty much as confused as possible. =/

Anonymous said...

I believe Christina was right. Why would she be lying about things that happened. She would never had written that book.

Anonymous said...

Man, you're all talking about a waste of time! WHO CARES IF SHE WAS OR WASN'T ABUSIVE!? There are THOUSANDS of abusive homes throughout the U.S. as we speak and I don't even wanna get started on what goes on in other countries, and you people are talking about this shit!? Nobody cares when it's nobody famous....

Anonymous said...

I think it isn't odd that the two younger siblings didn't believe the abuse the two older siblings said happened.

I have a sister born about 9 years after me in the mid 90s who is so close to my mother, I'm still amazed by it. She is so close to her, she can't understand why I don't get along with her.

She can't understand, even after she has witnessed my mother hit me with all kinds of kitchen utensils or any thing around her that can be used as a weapon. She can't understand even though she has heard her say " I hope you die" to me and my 3 other siblings who were also abused.

I don't fault her for it, even though my youngest sister and I aren't close. She is a young teen, and it's hard to believe your mother is abusive when you love her so much and you get along so well.

It's possible for kids in the same family to have completely different views of their parents. It's possible Joan learned from her mistake as a mother, since her two oldest kids are much older than her two youngest kids. It happened in my family.

For my mother 9 years was plenty to understand how to be a better mother to the newest child.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful site!

I read "Mommie Dearest" years ago, long before I ever saw a Joan Crawford film. The book was given to me by a schoolmate who said the author was his aunt by marriage (I never verified his claim, but we were in sixth or seventh grade at the time). I read the book and found it hilariously badly written.

I reread the book in the early 1990s just for the hell of it, wondering if it was as ridiculous as I remembered. I can't say I ever believed the claims made in the book...partly because certain things were obviously false. For example, she claims to accurately quote conversations that she witnessed at a very young age (no one's memory is that good), she made statements that are not borne out by the accompanying photographs (she repeatedly says "I was a beautiful child" when she was clearly quite beastly looking! and cross-eyed to boot!), and she tells one story but later in her own book contradicts herself.

Factor in the testimony of actual friends of Joan, such as Myrna Loy, the younger adopted children, and common sense, and it seems that at worst Joan was a strict parent, hardly newsworthy for the time period. It's only now that a light spank on a child's butt is considered abuse... Any remarks from silly Helen Hayes should be taken with a grain of salt. She said at one point that she never witnessed anything mentioned in the book, yet after reading it she said it changed her opinion completely about someone she considered a friend. On what basis? The idea that someone's adopted daughter couldn't possibly be lying or exaggerating?

At any rate, I wish it were true that Joan had beaten Christina with a wire hanger, since Christina as an adult has proven that she richly deserved such treatment! That woman has made a career out of her risible claims.

Anyway, imagine my surprise when I saw my first Joan Crawford film a few years after rereading that silly book--the film was Possessed (the first one), and I was enchanted by that divinely gorgeous woman. Unlike some fans of Joan, I found Christina unbelievable long before I had any vested interest in the star being trashed in print and interviews, since I hadn't even seen any of her films at that point.

Sorry about the long message! Keep up the good work...

Anonymous said...

You say you could care less for Joans daughter but cannot stop talking about her. You sympathise with Joans hard childhood but not for her daughters. Its hard to take you seriously. I would have liked to have read about Joans career but the constant blather about what a special human she was because she put a roof over her kids head is boring and obvious. THAT was her job as a parent!
It is common knowlege Joan was not a very nice person, a wonderful and talented actor, but extremely difficult to get along with.
Perhaps its time to remove the rose coloured gasses.
Kim, Australia