Was Joan Crawford Really A Bad Mother?

Joan Crawford has a point: Wire hangers are hideous, they ruin sweaters and add to the ever-growing land fills. Not really bad motherly advice advocating for their non-use is it. Based on Crawford’s astute assessment, I constantly whacked the old lady at my dry cleaners every time I picked of my sweaters exclaiming, “NO MORE WIRE HANGERS!” Much to my chagrin that iconic scene in Mommy Dearest was a fabrication. I owe my dry cleaning lady a big apology. During a Q&A session with Christine Crawford at the screening of Surviving Mommy Dearest she admits the iconic scene “never happened,” instead, she claims, it was an “accumulation” of events. A lot of movie goers are going to feel duped.

Christina Crawford’s new documentary, Surviving Mommy Dearest, reveals new information about Joan Crawford’s abuse, substance addiction and alcoholism. Those who attended the screening of Surviving Mommy Dearest got to hear Christina, in her own words, spin even more horrific stories about her mother from racism to innuendoes of murder. 

Christina recalls a birthday party where her mother refused to invite her black friend fearing it would look bad when it was covered by the press. On the day of the party Christina wouldn’t leave her room until her friend was invited, Joan Crawford fearing the party would be an disaster allowed the friend to come. Joan Crawford, from all accounts, doesn’t really seem like the type of mother that’s into negotiations–this story is very suspect.

The party was an elaborate affair with a carousel, clowns and farm animals. However, Christina claims the kids didn’t have any fun and none of them knew each other. It was all an elaborate scheme by Joan Crawford to fool the press into thinking they were a happy family. It’s hard to believe with all those trappings none of the kids had fun. It’s more like we only saw the footage that bolster Christina’s version of events. Christina also took umbrage that the elaborate party was given while the country was in the middle of World War II. It’s remarkable a 5-year-old is so socially aware at that age. Come to think of it we are at war in Afghanistan maybe it’s not the best time to launch a film about your mother who has been dead for over 35 years.

The documentary also cryptically describes how Joan Crawford’s 4th husband, Alfred Steele, was found dead at the bottom of a stair case in their New York apartment. I thought that it was a bit odd to say how he was found dead and not what he died of. Christina again adds extra commentary telling us Steele was a “healthy man” and reminded us that “everyone knew what a temper she (Joan Crawford) had,” clearly insinuating Joan Crawford had some responsibility in his death. A quick google search turned up he died of a heart attack–not being pushed down a flight of stairs.

In Christina’s eyes it didn’t seem like Joan Crawford could do anything right. Joan originally told Christina that her mother died during labor, however that was not the truth. An optimist might assume it was a white lie told by an adoptive mother to protect her child’s feelings about being given away. But Christina, a glass is the half-empty type of girl, didn’t see it that way, to her it was a burden–the knowledge that she had killed her mother.

An audience member asked her why she didn’t change her name? Christina said other celebrity children had tried to do it with little success, the public always knew who they were. I just don’t buy her explanation. She’s adopted, obviously looks nothing like her mother, lives in Iowa–no one would know! It’s not like she’s Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child with the maid who’s a dead ringer for the governator. She could have lived a life of anonymity, but chose not to.

I’m always skeptical about any book or movie that is posthumously made when the accused doesn’t have the ability to speak for themselves. This documentary doesn’t give any accounts, facts or evidence other than what Christina’s recollections are, it merely hurls more unfounded accusations and innuendoes. Let’s face it, if Joan Crawford was Iraq Dick Chaney would have never invaded, and we all know he needs just a scant amount of evidence to lob bombs on anyone. Christina’s horrific account of her life his just too over the top to believe.

Joan Crawford’s only other living child, Cathy Crawford, has a completely different impression of her mother describing her as a loving an caring person:

It’s time for Christina Crawford to retire from her career as an abused child and let her mother rest in peace.


3 thoughts on “Was Joan Crawford Really A Bad Mother?

  1. Ryun Johnston

    A great article. Quick and to the point. Over the last 35 years Christina’s litany of issues have been proven to be lies. As one of the greatest phenomenons of the 20th century popular culture, Joan Crawford deserves respect rather than a ungrateful 72 year old, failed actress, former alcoholic, adoptive daughters rantings


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