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Mommie Dearest  
Author Christina Crawford
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Memoir
Publisher William Morrow & Co.
Publication date October 1978
Media type Print (hardcover)
Pages 286 pp
ISBN 0688033865
OCLC Number 4114625
Dewey Decimal 791.43/028/0924 B
LC Classification PN2287.C67C7

Mommie Dearest is a memoir and exposé written by Christina Crawford, the adopted daughter of actress Joan Crawford. The book was published in 1978.

The book depicts Christina's childhood and her relationship with her mother.


Christina Crawford's claims

Among Christina Crawford's statements in the book:

  • That she was a victim of child abuse during her mother's battle with alcoholism.
  • That Joan Crawford was more concerned about her motion picture career than the well being of her four children, and suggests she may have adopted them for publicity purposes.
  • That Joan Crawford had a long list of affairs with men — whom Christina was required to call "Uncle" and rarely "Daddy". Christina Crawford claims Joan Crawford also had many affairs with women.
  • Christina recounts several evenings where Crawford's behavior was unbalanced, and at least one encounter with her mother where Crawford attempted to strangle her. In another, Joan Crawford 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. Shirley Temple's account of abuse has been seriously questioned. She stated she witnessed the events in 1938, but this was before Crawford had adopted any of her children.

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.


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, releasing a "30th Anniversary Edition". This includes one hundred pages of new material and omits about 50 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 of the book (she did not stay for the screening). 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.


  • 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


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Joan Crawford portrayed by Faye Dunaway

  • I fought worse monsters than you for years in Hollywood
  • No wire hangers! What's wire hangers doing in this closet when I told you no wire hangers, ever?! I work and I slave until I'm half dead, and all I hear people say is she's getting old. And what do I get? A daughter who cares as much about the beautiful dresses I give her as she cares about me! What's wire hangers doing in this closet?!
  • You're nothing but a rotten, crooked lawyer...
  • Tina, bring me the axe!
  • When you polish the floor you have to move the tree.
  • I'm not mad at you, Helga, I'm mad at the dirt!
  • Scrub. Scrub, Christina. It's not. This floor is not clean! Look at it! This floor is not clean! None of it... this floor is not clean. Nothing is clean. This whole place is a mess!
  • Clean up this mess!
  • Figure it out.
  • Don't fuck with me, fellas! This ain't my first time at the rodeo.
  • I should have known you'd know where to find the boys and the booze!
  • Who wants to go swimming?
  • Ah... you lost again!
  • Ah, but nobody ever said that life was fair, Tina. I'm bigger and I'm faster. I will always beat you.
  • Don't you ever use that tone of voice again with me, Missy!...Who do you think you're talking to?!...I'll tell you what yo're going to do: You are going to march yourself upstairs to your room, and will stay there, until I tell you to come out!
  • I don't ask much from you, girl...Why can't you give me the respect that I'm entitled to?! Why can't you treat me like I would be treated by any stranger on the street?
  • Let's go!
  • When I told you to call me that, I wanted you to mean it.
  • Barbara, please! Please Barbara!
  • I can handle the socks.
  • It all comes out in the wash.
  • Mayer should know the price I pay!

Christina Crawford portrayed by Diana Scarwid / Mara Hoble

  • Adopted children are luckiest because they were chosen.
  • I wanna know... why did you adopt me?!
  • Because I am not one of your fans!
  • Maybe just a little true.
  • Does she? Does she...?
  • Jesus Christ!
  • No, go back. Strap yourself in. She'll kill me if she finds out.
  • But that's not fair, you're bigger than I am! It's not fair to win twice...
  • Then I'm not gonna play with you anymore...EVER!
  • Yes, Mommie Dearest. Uncle Ted.
  • I fix all of my uncles' drinks this way.

My character is only 28

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