Excerpt From Christina Crawford's Sworn Under Oath Deposition Testimony (pages 146 - 152)
February 9th - 10th, 1978
Manhattan, New York
Within Christina Crawford's memoir, Mommie Dearest," she claimed to have been "strangled" by Joan Crawford upon her return home from Chadwick School for summer vacation in June of 1953. In her memoir, Christina describes this incident in great detail, stated that following this "strangulation" attempt, she was sent back to Chadwick School for the remainder of the summer. However, in Christina's February 9th -10th, 1978 sworn deposition, she repeatedly denied any knowledge of this incident.
In Christina Crawford's autobiography, "Survivor" (1988), she claimed to have attended this deposition during the exact same trip to Manhattan, New York when she submitted the final installment of the manuscript of her memoir, "Mommie Dearest," to her publisher, William Morrow. Therefore, based upon Christina's own claims, she told an entirely different accounting of this incident in her sworn deposition than she did in "Mommie Dearest."
In addition, the woman who was present during this alleged "strangulation" incident, whom Christina describes in "Mommie Dearest," as "the new secretary," adamantly denied the claim that Joan strangled Christina. The woman's name was Billie Greene. In a previously unpublished interview, taken after the publication of "Mommie Dearest," Greene describes this event entirely different than Christina claimed in her memoir.
Billie Greene's account can be read here.
In 1998, Christina Crawford published a 20th anniversary edition of "Mommie Dearest," with additional details which she claimed William Morrow omitted from her original manuscript, this included the names of some of the alleged witnesses. In the 20th anniversary edition of the book, Christina names "the new secretary," referring to her "Billie. This is confirmation that Billie Greene was, indeed, the same woman present during the alleged "strangling" event, and denied Christina's claims. Unbeknownst to Christina, Greene had already provided an interview challenging this allegation, and that interview was not published until it was recovered by this webmaster and published on this website.
Excerpts of the 1953 strangulation allegation, as it is written in the
20th anniversary edition of Christina Crawford's "Mommie Dearest"
(These excerpts are offered here for the purpose of research, education and criticism per the Fair Use criteria of U.S. Copyright law)
"...Toward the middle of that week, things eased off a bit and settled into just the normal bullshit routine of whispering in the mornings and abiding by the rules. Mother had a friend who was visiting from the East and she’d invited the woman to have dinner with us one night.
...We were nearly home and I was literally counting the minutes until I could safely escape to my room when Dorothy asked me how school was going. I had been sitting silently in the back seat until then, seemingly unnoticed by either of them. I replied that I liked school very much.
Dorothy asked me about several people’s children that she knew who were also at Chadwick. One of the students had been expelled. I told her that I thought one of the students she mentioned had some trouble and had been expelled. With that Mother turned halfway around to momentarily face me, while driving full speed ahead, and icily inquired who was I to say anything about anyone else, since I’d been expelled too. Once we were inside the house I went to my mother when I found her alone and asked her why she’d told Dorothy I’d been expelled when it wasn’t true.
Mother hauled off and hit me across the side of my head so hard it made my ears ring. She told me in no uncertain terms that she’d decide what the truth was and that considering how much I lied no one believed me anyway no matter what I said. All I said was “That’s not true” and she slapped me across the face again. I was so mad I didn’t cry even though it really hurt. I just stood there staring right back at her, determined that I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of seeing one tear. She slapped me hard several times again and then stepped back saying, “You love it don’t you … you just love to make me hit you.”
By this time her friend Dorothy was in the room and saw the last time she slapped me. Only because Mother didn’t want Dorothy to have any more information about our happy Hollywood home, Mother called me into the bar to finish our conversation. I followed her into the little room where the drinks were fixed. She sat on the counter top and asked me why I insisted on arguing with her. I answered that I didn’t wish to argue, but that I also didn’t appreciate her telling people that I’d been expelled from school, which wasn’t true. I said I thought she was supposed to be the one who was more understanding since she was the parent and the adult. From the distance of this much time, it may not sound like it now, but this was the wrong thing to say to my mother at that particular moment in the time and space of our lives. It triggered something in her, the likes of which I never saw before and hope never to see again. It struck at some volcanic trauma in the center of her being that erupted with a violence, a hatred and a suddenness that plunged us both into an instantaneous struggle for survival. She leaped off the counter and grabbed for my throat like some mad dog … like some wild beast … with a look in her eyes that will never be erased from my memory.
I was caught totally defenseless and staggered backward, carried by her momentum. I lost my footing and fell to the floor, hitting my head on the ice chest in the fall. The choking pain of her fingers around my throat met the thudding ache of the blow to the back of my head. She banged my head on the floor, tightening her grip around my throat. Her face was only a few inches away from mine and she was screaming words at me I couldn’t even hear. Her mouth was twisted with rage and her eyes … her eyes were the eyes of a killer animal, glistening with excitement.
I gasped for air and felt myself sinking into unconsciousness as I tried desperately to fight back … to free myself. All I could think of was that my own mother was trying to kill me. If something or someone didn’t help me very soon I was going to die. I tried with the last bit of my strength to struggle free of those choking fingers and managed to wedge one of my knees between her body and mine and push upward on her ribs with my hands which loosened her grip slightly. It at least allowed a trickle of air down my throat and kept me from losing consciousness. Now I fought back harder. I didn’t want to die. I completely forgot that she was my mother. She was trying to kill me and if I had the strength I would try to kill her first. She was terribly strong and all I could do was concentrate on loosening her grip on my throat.
The next thing I knew the door opened and the secretary Billie burst into the small room, no larger than a hallway with counters on both sides. “My God, Joan … you’re going to kill her …,” Billie yelled. She tried to pull Mother away from me. Though Billie was also a strong woman, it took her some time to separate the two of us. When Billie had succeeded in pulling us apart, Mother continued to hit me across the face. I felt her ring cut my lip and saw some blood on her hand. “Joan … Stop … Stop … you’re going to kill her!” Billie yelled again. Finally Mother allowed herself to be pulled away from me and sank into Billie’s arms sobbing. I lay on the floor several minutes trying to catch my breath and get my bearings. My head was throbbing and I had a hard time swallowing, but nothing seemed to be broken. I raised myself to a sitting position slowly to test whether or not I was all right. Through her tears Mother ordered me to go up to the middle room and get into bed. Someone would be up to lock me in there."