Joan, Christina, & Mommie Dearest

Caproni

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Oh, I know this has been discussed here before, so please don't skin me at the stakes, but this is a topic that's been batting around in my head almost all week.

Ever since Mommie Dearest was published in the late seventies, it has blurred Joan's reputation. Her name cannot be mentioned without wire hangers or some form of child abuse being brought up in the same breath. It is almost impossible for most people, whether they're film geeks or not, to separate her career and this nasty tell-all book that her adopted daughter had published shortly after she died. It all gets rolled up into one bundle, and I just don't find it fair.

I go in and out on whether or not I believe Christina and what she says. There was a time where I was apt to believe at least some of what she had to say, but the more I watch and listen to her, I just want to write everything off as fabrication. Her bitterness seems to fuel her eagerness to smear her adopted mother's legacy, rather than sharing actual facts revolving her childhood and relationship with Joan Crawford, the movie star.

While I certainly will not try to crown Joan Mother of the Year, I also refuse to buy into all that's spread about her and the mistreatment of her children. I'm sure she was tough, but I really doubt the legitimacy of her being actually physically abusive. Most of the old Hollywood people that jump on Christina's bandwagon seem like they're more excited to be on the tabloid talk shows to trash Joan, rather than give us anything we can believe.

Of course, I know that all the stories can never truly be verified, because all the story tellers will be biased, and the truth has been lost in history.

I don't even think of Joan Crawford and Mommie Dearest as the same woman. When someone says "Mommie Dearest", I see Faye Dunaway. I kind of look at the 1981 movie as a rewritten history of Joan's life from the worst interpretation possible. We all know the movie is full of inaccuracies and therefore apt to side with Christina because, hey, she's the one supplying their material.

I don't know, I just felt like this would be something interesting for us to discuss.

What's your take? Is Christina lying or telling the truth?

 

Crimson

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A fraught topic, and one in which people tend to be conspicuously all-or-nothing. Either Joan was the most monstrous bitch who ever lived, or Christina was a lying ingrate. Two things can simultaneously be true. Joan could have been a (very) bad mother, and Christina could have sensationalized for revenge and profit. One does not invalidate the other.

Donald Spoto, in his biography of Joan, is entirely dismissive of Christina's claims*; some of his counter-arguments are compelling and, I admit, I find Christina's motivations to be somewhat suspect. That said, even removing Christina's direct allegations, it's easy to see the problem. Joan was a career and image obsessed workaholic; a heavy-drinker with a hot temper and tendency to throw things; a strict disciplinarian with a crackpot ideology about hardship being good for kids and a lunatic mania for cleanliness. By most accounts, Christina and Christopher were "problem" children. (Myrna Loy, perhaps the sanest star of the era, commented that seeing Christina made her grateful to never have had kids of her own.) Not that unruly children deserved whatever Joan inflicted on them, but that was a powderkeg.

That said, when talking about Christina's allegations, the movie should be relegated to the garbage heap; the movie manages to be both a overwrought character assassination on Joan and trivialize Christina's ordeal. The movie is pure trash and, being based on some very troubling allegations, enjoying it as camp seems rather callous.

*Anyone invested in conventional Hollywood lore should probably avoid Spoto's work. Not only was he entirely pro-Joan, in his biography of Marilyn he disputes the Kennedy affairs and dismisses the conspiracies as lurid fantasies concocted by shysters.
 

Caproni

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A fraught topic, and one in which people tend to be conspicuously all-or-nothing. Either Joan was the most monstrous bitch who ever lived, or Christina was a lying ingrate. Two things can simultaneously be true. Joan could have been a (very) bad mother, and Christina could have sensationalized for revenge and profit. One does not invalidate the other.

Donald Spoto, in his biography of Joan, is entirely dismissive of Christina's claims*; some of his counter-arguments are compelling and, I admit, I find Christina's motivations to be somewhat suspect. That said, even removing Christina's direct allegations, it's easy to see the problem. Joan was a career and image obsessed workaholic; a heavy-drinker with a hot temper and tendency to throw things; a strict disciplinarian with a crackpot ideology about hardship being good for kids and a lunatic mania for cleanliness. By most accounts, Christina and Christopher were "problem" children. (Myrna Loy, perhaps the sanest star of the era, commented that seeing Christina made her grateful to never have had kids of her own.) Not that unruly children deserved whatever Joan inflicted on them, but that was a powderkeg.

That said, when talking about Christina's allegations, the movie should be relegated to the garbage heap; the movie manages to be both a overwrought character assassination on Joan and trivialize Christina's ordeal. The movie is pure trash and, being based on some very troubling allegations, enjoying it as camp seems rather callous.

*Anyone invested in conventional Hollywood lore should probably avoid Spoto's work. Not only was he entirely pro-Joan, in his biography of Marilyn he disputes the Kennedy affairs and dismisses the conspiracies as lurid fantasies concocted by shysters.
The Joan/Christina/Mommie Dearest triangle is a place where people tend to have a lot of differing views. They're either pro-Joan or pro-Christina, and there's not any room for gray. Honestly, I can totally understand that. Either you side with a Hollywood legend or the adopted daughter saying her childhood was plagued with abuse. The choice is yours.

It's just hard for me to personally believe everything Christina says. She seems to have gotten more bitter as the years have gone by. I remember watching the interviews she did on Phil Donahue's show, and she seemed more poised than she did in the TCM documentary on Joan, where she seemed tough, bitter, and determined to prove her point. Maybe I slide too much to the Joan camp, but I just seem to think Christina is kind of spoiled rotten and uses her mother's clout to generate publicity. Sure, I know some of Joan's "friends" apparently confirmed Christina's allegations or told of their own encounters with Joan's mistreatment of her children, but like I said earlier, I'm more apt to believe that these people were doing so because of the attention it was getting them.

Again, I must stress that I'm not necessarily defending Joan, it's just I think Christina fabricated the truth. And that's typical when writing any kind of biography or retelling of someone's life, but she's done it all for exploit. And again that's typical. I mean, she's went from calling her Mother to her Adopted Mother. Yeah, that's not a real biggy, I don't guess, but it's like she's been eaten up with these tales she's spinning and even if she knows they aren't true, it's all too late because she's convinced herself that they are.

I guess I do straddle the fence more than most, but I still tend to wet my feet in Joan's pool. She's one of my favorites, and maybe it's just that I can't believe she was ever as brutal as Christina paints her to be.

But, of course, I could be wrong.
 

Snarky's Ghost

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I have no trouble separating Joan from Mommie Dearest just because people hit people. They just do. And many people aren't cut out to be parents -- and the culture was really different then, and abusive parents could get away with a lot more, let alone rich ones with a film studio's press spin-doctors available and the police in their pockets.

Sure, Christina seems much more snarky in later decades than when the book first came out in 1978, but back then it was the first significant tell-all memoir about growing up amidst the rich and famous, pulling back the veneer. So Christina was very cautious in making her allegations on TV chat shows like DONAHUE and elsewhere, because of the ferocious blow-back she knew she'd get and did.

Today of course it's no big deal, and Christina is full of vim and vinegar and lots of eye rolls. But for me, the book, very sensitively written, rings true. (Unlike, say, My Mother's Keeper written seven years later by B D Hyman about her mother, Bette Davis -- a book with obvious truthfulness here-and-there, and yet fraught with such a small and petty tone, its credibility is minimized, to say the least. Hyman is today a homophobic born-again cow, while Davis' adopted son, Michael, a sweet and honest guy, disowns the book but is careful not to disavow the details, many of which are likely factual-ish).

Can all Christina's Hollywood supporters who knew Joan really be dismissed as attention seekers? (And Christina openly admits that she and her brother became rebellious and problematic -- how could they not?)

The 1981 movie MOMMIE DEAREST was obvious campy shlock. I was in the packed theatre when it opened (many years before the day of my birth) and the audience screamed with laughter in all the right places, and some of the wrong ones. It was Paramount's biggest September release up until that time... As one of the first neo-'40s cinema entries of the 1980s -- glossy, trashy, hyperbolic and superficial, one could only wish DYNASTY had been this entertaining (but mostly wasn't, except for the rare season). I've never defended the movie (despite purchasing the DVD some 14 years ago, but I also bought most years of DYNASTY, which I've regretted more) but its biggest creative issue seems not to be what the film version did, but what it didn't --- and a clunky lack of transition between the scenes and eras was a major factor in making the picture feel so idiotic and foolish. (And Joan's films were almost completely ignored).

Years later, Christina told Larry King that the Dunaway version wasn't any more exaggerated than the real Joan but simply different: Dunaway's Joan was merely a glamorous woman who wanted be obeyed, but in real life there was no placating Joan Crawford; complete compliance didn't save you from mistreatment, that dynamic a hallmark of an abusive relationship.

Stupid Faye has disowned the movie since its release, but that couldn't be more disingenuous. Everyone knew what the already infamous book was about long before the movie was made, so Faye had to know it wasn't a love letter to Joan Crawford. But after Anne Bancroft pulled out of the movie once she sensed the script was getting too campy, Dunaway campaigned for the role, undoubtedly because she knew it could be a career-building part and knowing that Joan had praised a young Dunaway's star-quality years earlier... But once Faye realized that the movie was going to be the shyte, she publicly began dismissing Christina's story and started talking as if her own participation in the project had been almost coerced, the idiotic diva

But I'll hand you that Christina's later unconstrained relish for tearing her mother to shreds doesn't help her case, but I think she's long-since been like, "WTF, Joan was bitch," and I myself am fine with that even if everybody else isn't.

If anyone hasn't heard, Christina has long-since identified QUEEN BEE (poorly directed by the screenwriter, but fascinating nonetheless) as the role most similar to the real Joan Crawford, and one has to believe it. And it's not just because Joan plays a "bitch" in the picture because, by her own admission, she'd played many bitches in her career -- she even managed to portray a "reformed" axe-murderess who was somehow more sympathetic than the woman she played in QUEEN BEE. (I also suspect the role she plays in THE BEST OF EVERYTHING hits pretty close to home, too). I'd also recommend re-watching that interview with Anne Helm about getting fired from STRAIT-JACKET.

By the way, there was a documentary released only months after Joan died -- and only months before Christina's book came out -- which seems to paint Joan Crawford in a very similar light.

 
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ginnyfan

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Like with most things that tend to have 2 extreme sides to them, the truth must be somewhere in the middle. I believe most of the things Christina claims but it doesn't really affect my view of Joan, her career and even her life. She had issues, like most in Hollywood, and was a bad mother, like many others. Colour me surprised..... Mommie Dearest doesn't even come to my mind when I think of Joan because I'm so enthralled by her career, movies and fights she fought to remain relevant, that her children seem like a boring subplot to me.

But, when we are discussion this topic, it's details that matter. Did Joan really hit Christina with wire hangers or did she just scream at her and make her clean the floor? I choose not to believe that she beat her up with them, let's assume this is one of the exaggerations from the book and the movie. Did Joan really jump on teenage Christina like a ninja and start choking her? I definitely don't believe this. It's the worst part of the movie, for me, that makes it cross over into garbage trash territory. Was this even mentioned in the book? Physical punishment was a normal thing back then so I believe Joan slapped Christina around like many other parents but I don't believe she was a serious physical abuser. Of course there was a lot of other stuff like mental torture, blackmail that I believe she did because these were her Hollywood tactics and tools. Joan had a dark side to her and it was not hard to see her as a sinister villain from 1950s on.

Granted, I never read the book and I've only seen Christina's Larry King interviews and some clips from others so the movie is my only real source on this whole drama. Even though Feud was criticized for many things (personally I enjoyed it), one of its most important achievements is sort of a rehabilitation of Joan's image. It focused on her career, determination and extremes she would go to in order to succeed and somehow made her sympathetic in the process, with Christina out of picture completely.

After the terrible damage Faye and her movie did to Joan, Feud managed to balance things out and that's a good thing!

 

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Like with most things that tend to have 2 extreme sides to them, the truth must be somewhere in the middle. I believe most of the things Christina claims but it doesn't really affect my view of Joan, her career and even her life. She had issues, like most in Hollywood, and was a bad mother, like many others. Colour me surprised..... Mommie Dearest doesn't even come to my mind when I think of Joan because I'm so enthralled by her career, movies and fights she fought to remain relevant, that her children seem like a boring subplot to me.

But, when we are discussion this topic, it's details that matter. Did Joan really hit Christina with wire hangers or did she just scream at her and make her clean the floor? I choose not to believe that she beat her up with them, let's assume this is one of the exaggerations from the book and the movie. Did Joan really jump on teenage Christina like a ninja and start choking her? I definitely don't believe this. It's the worst part of the movie, for me, that makes it cross over into garbage trash territory. Was this even mentioned in the book? Physical punishment was a normal thing back then so I believe Joan slapped Christina around like many other parents but I don't believe she was a serious physical abuser. Of course there was a lot of other stuff like mental torture, blackmail that I believe she did because these were her Hollywood tactics and tools. Joan had a dark side to her and it was not hard to see her as a sinister villain from 1950s on.

Granted, I never read the book and I've only seen Christina's Larry King interviews and some clips from others so the movie is my only real source on this whole drama. Even though Feud was criticized for many things (personally I enjoyed it), one of its most important achievements is sort of a rehabilitation of Joan's image. It focused on her career, determination and extremes she would go to in order to succeed and somehow made her sympathetic in the process, with Christina out of picture completely.

After the terrible damage Faye and her movie did to Joan, Feud managed to balance things out and that's a good thing!

Christina did say that Joan once tried to kill her by strangling her. Do you not believe there was physical abuse?

You should try and read the book -- the tone and details are so different from the movie.
 

Caproni

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I also tend to believe that the truth lies somewhere in the middle of the two extreme sides of the spectrum. Joan wasn't always a saint, neither was Christina always a victim.
 

Alexis Colby Carrington

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I've no reason to believe that Christina isn't telling the truth, I do enjoy the film, though it's a while since I've seen it, I'm sure if Faye had won an Oscar for her role as Joan Crawford she'd be much more positive about the film. I now also want to watch Queen Bee.
 

Caproni

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I've no reason to believe that Christina isn't telling the truth, I do enjoy the film, though it's a while since I've seen it, I'm sure if Faye had won an Oscar for her role as Joan Crawford she'd be much more positive about the film. I now also want to watch Queen Bee.
The films Queen Bee and Harriet Craig are often fancied as two of the films most-like Crawford. Apparently Dunaway drew her inspiration for "creating" Crawford from that legend.
 

Caproni

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Jealousy seems to lie at the root of it all. Joan was jealous of Christina, and Christina was jealous of Joan. They loved one another so much that they hated one another. They were poison together, an acidic mixture that just never gelled. They were almost like oil and water. I think Joan wanted babies for publicity, sure, especially the twins to counter Davis' having B.D. during their time at Warner's together. That's when Joan pulled whatever strings to get Cathy and Cindy, which was read as her way of upstaging Davis.

In saying that, I do believe Joan loved her children, albeit in her own way. She wasn't all bad, and I do think her kids were spoiled because, hey, they were the chosen children of Hollywood royalty.
 

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Did Joan really hit Christina with wire hangers or did she just scream at her and make her clean the floor?
It's been years since I've read the book and I believe Christina has revised it in recent years -- both adding and removing material -- so I don't know if her account has changed but, if memory serves, the infamous "no wire hangers!" scene from the movie was a conflation of two separate events that the movie amplified to grotesque proportions.

Not directed to anyone here because no one has yet done it, but anyone who uses the movie as a basis for their opinion of Joan, Christina or their relationship is working with fool's gold. The movie is too tacky and ridiculous for its subject, and the subject is too serious to be enjoyed as camp. I have removed the movie entirely from my rotation, although I'll agree that the approach, with a completely different subject, would have been a great 80s soap. Pity Dunaway didn't schlepp that performance to playing a TV bitch.
 
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Crimson

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I found myself reading a couple recent-ish interviews with Christina, both of which had some interesting tidbits.

To be clear on my opinion, I do not disbelieve Christina, although I am skeptical of her motivations and some of the specifics of her claims. What I don't doubt is that she had a wretched childhood. Or, to put it another way, I certainly wouldn't have wanted Joan Crawford for a mother. (But, then, I would say the same about Bette, Lana, Lucy, Dietrich, and Stanwyck.)

I have been rather leery of Christina's motivations. I mean, she admits she wrote the book in response to being left out of Joan's will; I admire the honesty, but it does nothing to dissuade my skepticism of her motivations. Toss onto that pile of skepticism too that she's somewhat embraced the movie. If someone made a grotesquerie out of the darkest moments of my life, I doubt it's something I would embrace; but it adds to the uneasy feeling that she's had no real goal other than scorched earth campaign against Joan's memory and legacy.

Details matter, even taking into account the imperfect instrument of human memory. Yes there are people who have backed up some of Christina's claims; there are also many -- family, friends, employees -- who had disputed them, both broadly and specifically. I see no reason why one group should be given total credibility and the other ignored. I don't know about the truth being 'in the middle', but certainly truth is messy. Something even Christina acknowledges: "I was going to tell the truth as I knew it."

Interesting that Christina sees herself as a precursor to the current #metoo era. There's some legitimacy to that claim, but both good and bad. Victims have a voice they previously lacked, and the powerful are somewhat less well protected. We also have a culture where accusations result in presumption of guilt, and mob mentality silences any facts or testimony that doesn't match the desired conclusion*. If Christina had published while Joan was still alive, much of my skepticisms about her may not exist.

*Try bring in the experiences of the 'twins' into any discussion with the "Joan was a monster" crowd and watch how fast their experiences are dismissed.
 

Snarky's Ghost

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Toss onto that pile of skepticism too that she's somewhat embraced the movie
She rejected the film for many years. It was decades before she could be coaxed into "playing along" with wire hanger props at festival showings of the movie because, ironically, the film eventually became even better known than the book, and showing up for screenings became a way to promote the book.

Regarding the sisters: they came along a bit later and were more quickly shipped off to boarding school, so they may indeed not have experienced what Christina and Christopher did. Then again, Cindy and Cathy both read as deeply damaged the few times they were ever interviewed.

And, yes, the truth is often not in the middle.

I would, however, like to hear Christina's explanation for why she had to pay her two younger adopted sisters a settlement after years of saying they weren't biological twins when the DNA tests said they were. Probably Joan's lie originally, but I'd just like Christina to address it if she hasn't already.
 

Crimson

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I would, however, like to hear Christina's explanation for why she had to pay her two younger adopted sisters a settlement after years of saying they weren't biological twins when the DNA tests said they were.
A tidbit of which I was unaware.

they came along a bit later and were more quickly shipped off to boarding school, so they may indeed not have experienced what Christina and Christopher did.
They were younger and, as Christina says, weren't even born at the time of much of Christina's alleged abuse. It's also not uncommon for a parent to be abusive to one child and not others. Perhaps Joan mellowed in later years; perhaps the girls were more docile and more easily conformed to Joan's dominance. Their experiences, for the most part, don't invalidate Christina's, but they also don't warrant being disregarded. Joan was alleged to be a horrible mother by two children, and a strict but loving mother by the other two. Both can be true.
 

Crimson

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An interesting interview with Christina from 1960, which paints a very different-- although still fraught -- relationship with Joan. I'm not posting this as a passive-aggressive means of undercutting Christina's claims. Victims can take years to process and be ready to talk about their traumas.

On the other hand, shifting stories are hard to sort through and adds to my skepticism that "Mommie Dearest" was perhaps an exaggeration driven by spite.
 
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Snarky's Ghost

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The JFK Assassination -- What did Joan Crawford know and when did she know it?

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Joan Crawford attended the Pepsi bottlers convention taking place in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. She had paused the proceedings when she and several Pepsi executives stepped briefly from the Baker Hotel, where the convention was being held, to watch the presidential motorcade go by.

Apparently, an invitation had been extended to both Joan Crawford and Richard Nixon from White House staff members to attend the scheduled luncheon speech that President Kennedy was to deliver at the Dallas Trade Mart. Without being overtly partisan, Crawford told a reporter, “No, I don’t think either of us will attend the luncheon here for President Kennedy,” she smiled.

Richard Nixon, former Vice President and JFK's opponent in the 1960 presidential election (and one of the only people in the world who couldn't remember where he was when he first heard about Jack Kennedy's assassination) was also in Dallas with Crawford as a lawyer on the board of Pepsi. (Incidentally, one of the only other people who couldn't recall where they were when Kennedy died was future president George H W Bush, whose boats -- the Houston and the Barbara -- were used in the Bay of Pigs fiasco, despite "Poppy" Bush supposedly having no CIA connections before he was made the agency's Director in 1974 ostensibly to clean it up after it had taken some serious public relations hits following revelations about CIA/mafia assassination plots. On the day of the assassination in 1963, Bush called in a message to the FBI that he had a suspicion that an acquaintance may have been involved in Kennedy's death, the false lead went essentially nowhere, and years later that person was, quite oddly, working for Bush).

Lyndon Johnson's mistress, Madeleine Duncan Brown, and well-known to the press corps in 1963, claimed there was a society party in the Murchison mansion in North Dallas on the night of November 21st, the evening before Kennedy's murder, and that LBJ showed up unexpectedly from Houston at around 11:00pm, at which point things got tense and all the important men -- including Nixon -- disappeared into the conference room at the sprawling home of the oil magnate, Clint Murchison.

Also in attendance were FBI Director J Edgar Hoover, and Dallas oil men H L Hunt and Sid Richardson, as well as executives from Brown & Root which had just gone under the corporate umbrella of Halliburton only a year earlier.

According to Madeleine Brown, Lyndon Johnson emerged from the meeting with several of the men after about 15 minutes, and he told her: “After tomorrow, those goddamn Kennedys will never embarrass me again. That’s no threat. That’s a promise.”

Naturally, there have been attempts to impugn Miss Brown's integrity, including an attempt to frame her for forgery (the charges against her dropped on appeal when they realized she was going to win) and claims that Nixon couldn't have been at the Murchison soiree because he and Joan Crawford were at comic Robert Clary's stage show at a Dallas hotel and that Clary acknowledged Nixon with a joke as he and Joan entered the room and joined the audience. This was supposedly around 8:00pm just as Nixon was allegedly crossing the threshold of Murchison's house.

However, a member of the Dallas press -- and future iconic White House press reporter, Helen Thomas, was in attendance at the party, and later signed an affidavit verifying that the party indeed occurred and as to who the notable guests were --- and it lined up with what Madeleine Duncan Brown has said. (I'm not aware of anyone asserting that Joan Crawford was at the November 21st party, with or without Nixon),

Staff employees of the Murchison home claimed that the Murchison family were jubilant at the news the next day that JFK had been assassinated, and that champagne and caviar flowed for a week.

Crawford and Nixon were quoted in the local press the next morning, only hours before the presidential murder, taunting JFK over his use of the protective bubble top sometimes applied over the presidential limousine for purposes of weather or to prevent gunfire injury in a known hostile city like Dallas. Some have suggested that this may have possibly been a motive for Kennedy choosing not to use the bubble.

At any rate, Brown wouldn't see her lover, LBJ, now the president, for 5 more weeks when he was in Texas for New Year's Eve. But during that 5 weeks, Brown said that society gossip around Texas and Dallas was ubiquitous that LBJ had caused the assassination of his dapper predecessor. Brown confronted Johnson in their hotel room, he flew into a rage, hit the wall, calmed down, and then told her that while he had not caused the murder, the oil fat-cats that she knew and socialized with in Texas, along with the CIA, had been the people who'd planned and carried out the killing. He then asserted that he'd said too much, and then went back downstairs to the hotel party, leaving Brown to melt down in their room alone, unable to believe how ugly it all was. She never broached the topic again with him, and she saw much less of Johnson for the next 6 years because of his presidential duties in Washington, D.C.

Joan Crawford was also good friends with crusading reporter and gossip columnist, Dorothy Kilgallen. Kilgallen was very famous at the time, was a weekly participant in the "What's My Line?" primetime TV game show, was an old drinking buddy of Miss Crawford's, and even toured with Joan while she was promoting STRAIT-JACKET only a few weeks after the assassination... But the aptly-named Kilgallen had come to realize that there was something dreadfully wrong about the official "lone nut" cover story in Kennedy's murder, and Dorothy went after the story, managing to be the only reporter to secure a jail house interview with Jack Ruby, the assassin of alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. A wee bit loose lipped, Kilgallen told friends that she was going to break the case wide open, one of the biggest crimes in American history. Later, she was found dead of an overdose in her NYC apartment on November 8, 1965 --- only a day before the most infamous of New York black-outs (which, perhaps ironically, was portrayed in Joan Crawford's 1969 pilot episode for Rod Serling's NIGHT GALLERY anthology series). But police and friends of Dorothy found the death scene highly suspicious -- she was found in a rarely-used guest room, reading a book she'd already completed, with her requisite reading glasses nowhere near her body; it seemed staged. Her husband would tell people that he'd destroyed Dorothy's records and notes on the assassination before he himself committed presumed suicide in 1971.

Crawford was tied in with all of these people. What could she have known and when could she have known it? (Pepsi's political activities at the time could also stand to be looked at.) When Joan's adopted daughter, Christina, has hinted about these things, she's gotten some push-back from Joan's legion of fans (including when Christina has questioned how Joan's husband, Alfred Steele, Vice President of Pepsi-Cola in the 1950s, died).

When Joan died in May 1977, at the probable age of 74, she had only two framed photos in her NYC apartment -- one of old pal Barbara Stanwyck and one of President John F. Kennedy.... Nostalgic memory --- or hunting trophy??


Joan Crawford in Dallas on November 21, 1963, the day before President Kennedy's assassination.
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Jimmy Todd

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Joan sure had an interesting life! So close to such intrigue, and to be pals to Kilgallen. Who knows what she learned over a few old-fashioned or sidecars.
Wasn't H.L. Hunt the oilman who inspired the character of J.R. Ewing?
 
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