October 29, 2021

Joan Crawford's Daughter Once Compared Her to a 'Wild Beast' over Her Physical Attacks

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In 1977, shortly after the death of the great Joan Crawford, the media learned that the diva had changed her will the previous year. The new document excluded her two eldest adopted children, Christina and Christopher.

Crawford's will blatantly affirmed her intention to exclude her two children for reasons known to them. After the shocking revelation was published in papers, the then 38-year-old Christina revealed her truth.

Christina made her official announcement to the press, informing them that the world would soon know who Crawford truly was. She then went ahead to release a book called "Mommie Dearest."

Joan Crawford substituting Christina on the television program "The Secret Storm," in 1968 (left), Christina Crawford at a photocall for her new show "Surviving Mommie Dearest" on May 2, 2013, in New York (right) | Photo: Getty Images



Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur and was abandoned by her father even before she was born. As a result, she spent her childhood with her mother and her new husband, a theatrical impresario who sexually abused her.

After completing her studies under the name Lucille LeSueur, she began dancing in traveling companies. In Detroit, she was noticed by a producer who was writing for a show on Broadway.

In New York, she met Saxophonist James Welton with whom she lived for a few months. But her strong ambition soon led her to Hollywood, where she was hired as an extra in the film "Lady of the night."


Joan Crawford in publicity portrait, Circa 1940 | Photo: Getty Images

After signing on with MGM, the media company felt her name was too fake and hosted a contest "Name the star" to enable readers of 'Movie Weekly' to choose her new name. That was when Joan Crawford was born.


Crawford is considered to be one of the most famous Hollywood stars of all time. She was an ambitious woman with an implacable conviction and tackled the climb to success as a war mission.

Even though she began her career in the 1920s in silent cinema, she reached her maximum success ten years later, playing proud women with strong-willed characters.

Joan Crawford in a promotional picture for her latest film "Harriet Craig" in 1950 | Photo: Getty Images


She won her first Oscar in 1945, with the film "Mildred Pierce." In 1962 the psychological horror-thriller film "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" brought her back to the fore.

Joan decided to become a foster mother in 1940, welcoming Christina into her life. After a few years, Crawford and her third husband, Actor Phillip Terry, adopted Christopher.

When Christina was first adopted, she was named Joan Jr. The same applies to Christopher, named Phillip Terry Jr., after his adoptive father. Still, Crawford eventually changed their names after her divorce from Terry.

Portrait of Joan Crawford in 1950 | Photo: Getty Images


Crawford's son was the second boy she fostered and named Christopher; however, the birth mother of the first reclaimed him. In 1947, she adopted two more children, Cindy and Cathy.

Christina mercilessly exposed the actress's personal life in "Mommie Dearest," which later became a film. The tremendous story destroys the myth of the diva, staining her memory forever.

Joan Crawford with her daughter Christina (left), her son Christopher (left), and her adopted, identical twin daughters, Cindy and Cathy, circa 1949 | Photo: Getty Images



After the actress's death, the press revealed that she amended her will to exclude the first two adopted children. Shortly after, Christina officially announced that she would expose Crawford's true nature.

The threat materialized with the publication of "Mommie Dearest." The book also inspires a film starring Faye Dunaway.

Joan Crawford and her seven-year-old daughter, Christina, on April 19, 1946 | Photo: Getty Images


The biography includes tones bordering on horror as Christina recounts her life with her adoptive mother. She describes her as a lonely, alcoholic woman, often prey to anger and obsessed with delusions of perfection.

She mercilessly tells about Crawford's fear of getting old, her boundless ambition, and outbursts in the middle of the night in the grip of alcohol.

She retraces her childhood, recalling the obligation to play the role of a happy child in front of the cameras. Furthermore, the iron discipline imposed on her by the famous actress was made up of renunciations and very hard rules.

Christina Crawford at the documentary screening of "Christina Crawford: Surviving Mommie Dearest" on November 20, 2013, in New York | Photo: Getty Images


Christina mentions that she experienced her drunk mother break into their rooms, screaming and tearing everything apart as a child. She reveals that her mother was heartless.

Unfortunately, there were no child protection laws during Christina's childhood. She further revealed that Crawford called the cops on her after grabbing her throat like a wild beast when she was only a teenager.

When the kind officer arrived to arrest Christina for delinquency, he informed her that she had to try and live with Crawford until she turned 18. The officer also advised that there was nothing he could do to help her.

Christina Crawford speaks about Turner Classic Movies original documentary, "Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star" on July 12, 2002 | Photo: Getty Images


This reality horrified and terrified Christina. She had felt as though there was no hope. As a child, she called Crawford "Mommie Dearest," which was mandatory in their household. This rule inspired the title of her book.

Even though her younger siblings denied any form of abuse and disputed the book, Christina's brother Christopher who wanted to remain private, supported her.

A biography by Bob Thomas later corroborated the older siblings' claims. In the text, Helen Hayes' son, James MacArthur, recalled finding Christopher tied to a bed during one of his visits.

Christina Crawford soon after the publication of her book "Mommie Dearest" on December 12, 1978 | Photo: Getty Images


Christina also vividly remembered Joan's violent mood swings. She believed her mother wasn't a healthy person. She once said:

"What my mother wanted was fans and puppies, not human beings."

She said everyone knew about the maltreatment, but the staff didn't want to lose their jobs, so they never spoke up. Additionally, because she was difficult to work with, the agency stopped sending workers to her.

Joan Crawford with her children Christopher and Christina, circa 1947 | Photo: Getty Images


Crawford had lived for the cameras, according to Christina. Things were so bad that she would have the children being photographed with lots of Christmas gifts.

However, they were not allowed to keep the gifts. Crawford would ask them to pick only one and then have the rest rewrapped so she could give them out at the birthday parties of other celebrities' kids, local hospitals, or charities.


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