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Joan Crawford always came across to me as a bit frosty in her films and her publicity pictures. After reading this shocking tell all calling her frosty is a kindess. Yes I have seen the movie and I adore it for its camp value. But I wasn't really prepared for the true nightmare Christina Crawford's life was.
Baby brokers in Hollywood were nothing new or shocking, June Allison had even used one. But being the shrewed publicity hound Miss Crawford was she knew that "adopting" unwanted children would give her great press that would last for years. And through a baby broker she bought four and poor Christina was the first and probably most unfortante of them all.
I'm sure that Christina has spared the readers several more accounts of the physical and mental abuse that she suffered at the hands of her Mommie Dearest. But what she does share is enough to shock the reader to their core. When you watch the film and the notorious "No wire hangers!" scence is playing out its more of something to laugh at. But when you read the real account its not. Christina is woken up late at night to noises of her clothes being thrown about the room yes Joan does scream that infamous line and drags her out of her bed by her hair. But reading about it you feel her pain of being beaten and then being told you may not go back to sleep until you finished cleaning up "your" mess. And of course the other infamous scene where she has to clean another one of "her" messes after being beaten down with a Bon Ami container. These night raids are something to fear.
These images of being the perfect little Hollywood princess with a doting mother by day and then playing bartender to a string of "uncles" that come in and out of their home by night are distrubing. The boarding school years Christina shares are insanity of the likes I never heard before. First she was sent to Chadwick's where she found some measure of stability. But her mother's jealously over Christina's relationship with the owners of the school would cause a murderous rage also made infamous by the film version. Shortly after that her mother would seperate all four children off to different schools and have Christina locked up in a convent.
What makes this story a tragic is in Christina's adult years when she thinks they had made peace with one another and their bond was repaired she would find it not to be so. Her mother would still become erractic and pull her old stunts. And the final insult was the reading of the will when her mother's final words explaining why she was left ouf of it were "for reasons which she fully understands." Joan Crawford was truly Mommie Dearest up until the end.
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