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Mommie Dearest

3.8 out of 5 stars 130 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0966336900
ISBN-10: 0966336909
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

With the 20th Anniversary Edition of Mommie Dearest, Christina Crawford becomes one of the only authors in publishing history to re-issue a number one best-seller. "The new edition is published as I intended it. More than 100 pages - mostly that delve into my adult relationship with Mother - that were left out of the original version are back in," said Ms. Crawford. "I've also added eyewitness accounts from people who came forward with information after the book was initially published, a preface to reflect the whirlwind that has happened in my life since Mommie Dearest was first published, and an afterword on adoption reform." When it was released in 1978, Christina Crawford's Mommie Dearest made an indelible impression on America's cultural landscape: it enjoyed 42 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, spawned a cult film classic based on the book, and placed the issue of family violence in the national spotlight. Issues of family violence brought to light then have yet to be resolved today and the book still stands as a catalyst for change. Christina Crawford is an internationally recognized, best-selling author and advocate for adoption reform, the rights of women and children, and a pioneer in making family violence an issue of national concern.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

DEAD. New York City, May 10, 1977 at 10 a.m. Eastern Daylight time. Official cause of death: coronary arrest.

As the wire services sped the news around the world we heard a brief obit on the radio all-news station on our way to the airport.

The only time so far that I had cried was when an old fan had called to tell me about the TV news station coming to film his collection of her clothes and photographs in his living room and to ask it he could have her dog...if no-one else had asked for it. Would I bring the dog back with me? She's barely cold and someone wants the dog! It was the same story all over again - the old clothes and the anklestrap shoes and the 8x10 autographed glossies and the goddamned dog. The rage made me shake and tears spilled down my fact...yet somehow my voice sounded ever polite. I hung up the phone.

Superstar is dead. Now the closet door will open and every weirdo in America will be on parade waving their faithful notes signed "God bless...Joan." I cried. But it wasn't sorrow, it was anger...a flash of the old rage like one of those violent thunder and lightening storms that sweep across the eastern sky and are gone.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Springs Pr (December 12, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966336909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966336900
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,666,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As a major Joan Crawford fan AND an advocate for children's rights, I feel compelled to comment. Firstly, it is necessary to separate Joan Crawford the actress from Joan Crawford the mother. MOMMIE DEAREST deals exclusively with the latter, not the former. Christina Crawford was not suggesting that her mother had no talent, and I do not believe that her goal was to destroy her mother's professional reputation. Rather, she felt it was important to expose the horrific reality she endured at the hands of an abusive parent who happened to have a highly positive public profile (part of which stemmed from her having adopted 4 children). Surely we as a society have evolved enough to know that child abusers can come from any race, any socio-economic circle, any profession - it shouldn't be difficult to believe that movie stars, with their fragile egos and often pathological need to succeed, can have major parenting deficits. And yes, obviously, this is a one-sided, subjective account - all autobiographies are! I doubt that any autobiography is objective. The reader should understand that Christina Crawford has provided us with HER perceptions, her recollections, of her childhood. We are being invited to see Joan Crawford, the mother, through Christina's eyes. And to be fair to Christina, there has been enough corroboration from reliable people who knew Crawford well, about specific aspects of Crawford's character (her obsession with cleanliness, for example), and of specific incidents referred to in Christina's book, that I for one do believe that, by and large, Christina has been truthful. It is also noteworthy that Crawford's son Christopher has corroborated what Christina has said.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Sometimes people assume the author was just making things up out of spite because it seems so bizarre.

Just look for "pathological narcissism" or "pathological narcissistic personality disorder" or "narcissistic mother" or "narcissistic mothers" on the web. You will encounter personal stories from ordinary non-famous folk that will give you a glimpse into what kids do experience in such situations. Narcissism is a spectrum, and actors are often on the spectrum for obvious reasons. A little narcissism is harmless, but Joan sounds like she was on the pathological end of the spectrum, or at least had some other personality disorder with similar problems. She probably had other issues also to explain the erratic behavior.

But don't doubt for a minute that those kids were abused. You don't have to be set on fire to be seriously damaged by an abusive parent. Just the wildly fluctuating behavior, unpredictability, and constant verbal abuse (humans are verbal animals, words cut deep despite the nonsense about sticks and stones especially from parents) can traumatize a child and have long-term effects.

The fact that the younger children say they never witnessed any of it is meaningless. Some children are more resilient than others, and it is not uncommon for the abusive parent to focus the abuse on certain children and treat others kindly ("the scapegoat vs. the golden child"). Children in the same family may not witness the abuse for various reasons (done behind closed doors, age gap, protection of the younger children by a nanny or by boarding school or a new rational spouse, etc.) A friend discovered as an adult that his father had routinely sexually molested both his sisters - neither sister knew the other one was also abused, and their father had threatened each girl that he would start on her sister if she did not keep quiet about it. That's how secretive abuse can be.
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When Mommie Dearest was written in the 1970s, many people seemed to think child abuse didn't happen in the homes of the rich and famous. Some disputed the things Christina said about her adptive mother, but people who knew Joan confirmed much of what was described in Mommie Dearest. Some things, such as the "night raids" were probably only witnessed by the children. Even if ( I said if) that was exaggerated, much of what Joan did was abuse, even when you consider people had different standards about discipline 50 years ago. For one thing, people were much less likely to intervene, I think, than they are today, especially when the abusive parent is rich and famous. I don't understand why another reviewer here said Joan paid for college-- I don't remember that part. Christina was out on her own very young. Just because Joan Crawford was famous doesn't mean she was a good person or a good parent, and it is not whining to let people know that.

Having said that, I only gave the book 3 stars. Mommie Dearest is not the best written book I have ever seen. I would have liked to have seen more depth, more understanding of why Joan was what she was, and how she became that way. Of course, Christina is not a professional writer, just someone who had to endure abuse that might have broken a lesser person.
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I agree with a previous reviewer that abusive parents often do scapegoat certain children in the family as the target of their rage, and also that the passing of time can mellow them to the extent that the ones who did not bear the brunt of their mistreatment and cruelty have a different opinion than the ones who were abused. That explains a lot as to why Christina and Christopher Crawford were on the receiving end of their adoptive mother, Joan Crawford's anger and "disicpline", while the "twins" (which they actually were not), Cynthia and Cathy, have sworn that Crawford was not like how she was portrayed in the book that is the subject of this review, "Mommie Dearest".

It is hard to know what went on behind closed doors, and there are at least two sides to every story, but Christina presented hers and it is an eye-opener. We can't know how much of it was true, how much was exaggerated or blown out of proportion, or even what may have been understated. But many people did back up Christina, perhaps more than those who did not. What cannot be doubted is that Joan Crawford did use her adoptive children as part of her public image to a large degree, in order to present herself as a kind-hearted, loving person - Crawford lived for her public - often described as a fan's dream because she made sure every fan letter was answered. She needed to be in control, those who knew her have attested to that fact. Maybe it was due to her own dysfunctional and abusive childhood, and she clearly did strive for success. I don't think that Joan was an evil person, just a very disturbed and angry one. I think she loved those kids as far as she was capable, and that a part of her really did want to be able to give and receive the love she didn't get as a child.
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