No More !
BY Jeremy Kinser
November 11 2010 5:30 PM ET
You describe Mommie Dearest as “the work of a somewhat hysterical imagination.” What evidence did you find that suggests the book wasn’t factual?
I’m so glad you asked. The evidence is right there in that book. She talks about this visit from Yul Brynner in 1948 when he was in Hollywood making The King and I. She goes on and on about the affair he was having with her mother in 1948. Well, the movie of The King and I was made in 1956, and the Broadway musical hadn’t even been thought of yet. The book is full of errors like that. She remembers events at which she was not present and which were not otherwise documented. It’s a remarkable fantasy about a part of her life. Was Joan a strict mother? Yes. Was Joan a cruel mother? All the evidence says no. The primary evidence for that is her twins, one of whom died recently. The other twin is still proclaiming the truth, saying, “I don’t know who Christina was talking about, but it certainly wasn’t my mother.”
Did you attempt to interview Christina Crawford?
Yes, but she doesn’t give interviews anymore. I respect that, but I think that in itself is ... interesting. Christopher is dead. I don’t say anything bad about Christina, and I think she regrets saying some of the things she did. It’s not for me to judge her but just assess the book and weigh it against the truth. In that regard it comes up very short.
How do you think Joan would like to be remembered?
I think she’d like to be remembered as a hardworking actress who tried to entertain and do good work and as a good mother and a loyal friend. She would be the first to say that among her movies there were a fair number of duds. She would be the first to say she made a fair number of mistakes with the children and didn’t give them enough of her time and put her career first. That’s one of the qualities that makes her an essentially positive figure. She didn’t try to defend herself or gloss over her faults.