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Mommie Dearest is a memoir and exposé written by Christina Crawford, the adopted daughter of actress Joan Crawford. The book, which depicts Christina's childhood and her relationship with her mother, was published in 1978.

Christina Crawford's claims

In the book, Christina Crawford claims that she was a victim of child abuse during her mother's battle with alcoholism and that her mother was more concerned about her motion picture career than the well-being of her four children, suggesting she may have adopted them for publicity purposes. She also suggests that Joan had a long list of affairs with men whom Christina was required to call "Uncle" and rarely "Daddy", and claims Joan also had many affairs with women.

Christina recounts several evenings where Joan's behavior was unbalanced, and at least one encounter with her mother where Crawford attempted to strangle her. In another, Joan reportedly discovered Christina's clothes hanging in a closet on wire hangers, instead of higher-quality hangers, and launched into a violent tirade on the subject.

Reaction to the book

The book's publication in 1978 created an enormous amount of attention. Mommie Dearest was one of the first celebrity "tell all" books.

Some of Joan Crawford's friends disputed the version of events presented in Mommie Dearest. Van Johnson, Ann Blyth and in particular, Myrna Loy, Joan's friend since 1925, became staunch defenders. While acknowledging that Joan Crawford was highly ambitious and an alcoholic for much of her life, critics have suggested that Christina embellished her story. Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Crawford's first husband, described the book by stating, "The Joan Crawford that I've heard about in Mommie Dearest is not the Joan Crawford I knew back then." The two younger Crawford children, Cindy and Cathy, born 1947, have stated categorically many times that they did not witness or experience any events as described in the book.

Other stars such as Helen Hayes, June Allyson, and Betty Hutton have verified some of the stories in Christina's book. Hutton had previously lived near Joan Crawford's Brentwood, California, home and has stated that she saw the children during or after various moments of abuse. She would often encourage her own children to play with Christina and Christopher to draw them away from their challenges at home. Crawford's best friend, actress Eve Arden, sided with Christina about Crawford's parenting abilities, saying that Crawford suffered from bipolar disorder; a good woman in many ways but, as an alcoholic with a violent temper, simply unfit to be a mother. In the book Understanding the Borderline Mother, author Christine Ann Lawson suggests that Joan Crawford may have had Borderline personality disorder (BPD) along with an obsessive compulsion with cleanliness.


Template:Refimprovesect The last pages of Christina's book suggest that Christina was not about to let her mother have the "last word" by omitting her daughter from her will. Later biographers [1] have reported that Christina began writing her book before Crawford's death, and have suggested that knowledge of its contents may have been a factor in Joan Crawford cutting her daughter from her will.

Christina Crawford has stood by her story and later released a "20th Anniversary Edition" which includes one hundred pages of new material and omits about fifty pages of original material. This edition has a number of typographical errors.[citation needed] The second edition names certain individuals not named in the original book, and focuses more on Christina's relationship with her mother from her high school graduation until the 1970s. It also revealed what became of her brother and describes several incidents involving him.

The author's promotion of the second edition, which was put out by a smaller publishing company, included some unconventional methods. This included appearing at campy presentations of the film based on the book where Christina lectured about the new edition. Christina also appeared at readings with drag entertainer Lypsinka, who often appears as Joan Crawford.

Mommie Dearest in popular culture

The book and the phrase has become widely referenced in popular culture, with countless occurrences ranging from Absolutely Fabulous to Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

In the Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV episode of Futurama, a robot stage mother at an audition opens her child's torso cavity and pulls out a lot of loose cabling: "Didn't I tell you? No more hanging wires!"

The band Blue Oyster Cult described the book's contents in their song "Joan Crawford" from the band's 1981 album Fire of Unknown Origin.


  • Mommie Dearest, Christina Crawford, William Morrow & Co., 1978, ISBN 0-688-03386-5, hardcover
  • Mommie Dearest, Christina Crawford, Seven Springs Press, 1997, ISBN 0-9663369-0-9, expanded edition, paperback.
  • The book's 20th Anniversary Edition restored approximately 100-pages previously cut from the original 1978 print. Christina Crawford bought back the book rights.


  1. Guiles, Fred Laurence, `Joan Crawford: The Last Word', Carol Publishing Corporation (1995), ISBN 155972269X

External links

de:Meine liebe Rabenmutter (Buch) fi:Mommie Dearest

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