Six Degrees of Joan Crawford: Mommie Dearest / by Karina Longworth

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The year after Joan Crawford died, her estranged, adopted daughter Christina published a tell-all, accusing her late mother of having been an abusive monster when the cameras weren’t around. Three years later, Mommie Dearest became a movie, starring the only actress of the “new Hollywood” who Joan herself had commended, Faye Dunaway. The disastrous production of that film revealed how much had changed in Hollywood since Joan’s heyday, and the finished film did much to mutate Joan’s persona in the minds of future generations.

Faye Dunaway and Mara Hobel in Mommie Dearest

Faye Dunaway and Mara Hobel in Mommie Dearest

Faye Dunaway and Diana Scarwid in Mommie Dearest

Faye Dunaway and Diana Scarwid in Mommie Dearest

Show notes:

Every episode this season will draw from the following books about, and/or based on conversations with, Joan Crawford:

Not The Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford, a Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler

Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography by Lawrence Quirk and William Schoell

Conversations with Joan Crawford by Roy Newquist

Sources specific to this episode:

Looking for Gatsby by Faye Dunaway and Betsy Sharkey

The Mommie Dearest Diary: Carol Ann Tells All by Rutanya Alda (special thanks to Brad Simpson for sending this to me)

“Christina Explains 'Mommie'”, Susan King, Los Angeles Times, March 30, 1998

“Dunaway Does Crawford”, Peter Lester, People Magazine, October 05, 1981

“Abused Crawford Child Sees Sad Holidays for Some Kids”, Patricia McCormack, Reading Eagle, December 28, 1981

“Christina Crawford Redefined Herself After Devastating Stroke Recovery”, Cynthia Taggart, The Spokesman, April 27, 1994  

“Visiting Mommie Dearest At Home”, Roger Ebert,, May 31, 1981

“Dunaway Dearest”, David-Elijah Nahmod, The Bay Area Reporter, May 9, 2013

“Christina Crawford Has No Sympathy For Faye Dunaway”, Michael Musto,, May  3, 2013

This episode was edited by Sam Dingman, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.