The Truth Behind "Mommie Dearest "
Bonus section: The LaLonde Exposé - Exposing Casey LaLonde
Christina Crawford's Objection To Probate The Will of Joan Crawford Steele
Signed October 24th, 1977
On October 24th, 1977, Christina Crawford Koontz and her brother, Christopher Crawford, filed objections to probate the will of Joan Crawford.
In Christina's legal objection, exhibited below, she makes numerous false statements regarding Joan Crawford, and statements that are in direct contradiction to the assertions and allegations written within her memoir, "Mommie Dearest."
According to Christina's 1988 autobiography, "Survivor," she signed this document on the afternoon of October 24th, following a two-hour meeting with her literary agent, book editor and the president of William Morrow regarding "revisions" and "changes" they asked her to make to the "Mommie Dearest" manuscript.
Below is a breakdown of Christina's contradicting statements given in this sworn legal objection:
Re: Item #5: “That deceased was a Christian Scientist and took no medication to alleviate the intense pain of said cancerous condition.”
FALSE. Joan's Christian Science practitioner, Marque Campbell, and caregiver, Darinka Papich, confirmed that Joan DID take pain medications to manage the pain associated with her illness. The Christian Science faith does not condemn pain management medication. This information was told to Christina Crawford by both persons cited above after Joan's death, and prior to Christina swearing to the information in this legal document.
Re: Item #11: “That for two or more years prior to her death, deceased had not left her apartment in New York City.”
FALSE. While there is no evidence that Joan left her apartment during the final year of her life due to her illness, it was not "two years or more" as claimed by Christina Crawford in her legal objection. In fact, Joan's friend, Michael Sean O'Shea, confirmed that Joan visited the Finger Lakes of New York in the fall of 1975, and O'Shea cited that trip as her final long distance outing. This information was told to Christina prior to her swearing to the information in this legal document. This information alone removes the exaggerated claim by Christina that it had been "two years or more" since Joan had left her apartment.
Re: Item #13: “That contestant and deceased were always bound by the closest ties of filial and parental affection.”
This statement, in and of itself, is a DIRECT contradiction to the allegations made throughout Christina's memoir, "Mommie Dearest."
Anyone who has read Christina's memoirs, or listened to her interviews, will know this statement is a direct contradiction of her allegations. However, for added measure, here is an excerpt from the 40th anniversary edition of "Mommie Dearest," and how Christina describes her relationship with her mother following the last time Christina claims to have spoken with Joan, which was on Christmas day 1971:
“I slammed that phone down in a fury. Goddammit lady … that’s going to be the last time you’re ever going to talk to me like that. That’s the last time I’m going to allow myself to be sucked into your goddammed bullshit. That’s the last time I’m going to end up feeling like I’ve done something wrong when all I did was have the consideration to call you and wish you a Merry Christmas. Do you ever call to see how I am? No. Do you ever call to wish me Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas? No. Do you ever try to work anything out between us? No. I’m the one who has to make the relationship work. I’m the one who has to always apologize, even if I know I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m the one who has to call and write and try to make it all work, try to keep it all together. And what do I get for my effort? A kick in the teeth as soon as I turn my back. What do I really get? Not one fucking thing but grief. I’m sick to death of every single bit of it. I’m sick of your bullshit and I’m sick of your vicious lies about me, I’m sick of your crazy games, I’m sick of you being jealous of everything I accomplish and I’m sick to death of you treating me like a piece of shit. I thought back over all the years. The years of worrying about what she would think and how she would react to every small facet of my life, my work, my entire being. I thought of the hundreds of times I’d tried to explain something to her when she wouldn’t listen. I thought of what amounted to a life-time of punishment for crimes I never committed. I thought of the humiliation and the shame she’d caused me. The depression and the personal agony of defeat after defeat. I thought about all the times I tried to do something nice for her, something that would please her and make her happy. I lived my whole life reacting to that woman. I lived my entire life scared to death of offending her.”
Re: Item #14: “That the writing herein, purporting to be the last Will and Testament of deceased, was the direct result of a mind and will distorted by intense pain and/or clouded by alcohol."
FALSE. Following Joan's death, and the reveal of Christina's disinheritance from her will, Christina made many attempt to find people to corroborate her claim that Joan was an "alcoholic" and under the influence of alcohol during her final years. Ultimately, Christina found no such person to corroborate this claim. This information is confirmed by Joan's interior designer and friend, Carleton Varney, who knew Joan well during her final years. Varney last spoke to Joan on May 4th, 1977, six days before Joan's death. Varney and Joan's caregiver, and the person with Joan when she died, Darinka Papich, were contacted by Christina asking them to be witnesses to her claim that Joan was an alcoholic during her final years of life. Both Varney and Papich (among others) denied this claim. Papich cited that Joan had stopped drinking in January 1975. This information by Papich was corroborated by others close to Joan during her final years. Despite her lack of any such witness to this claim, and her knowledge of Joan having stopped drinking more than a year and a half prior to executing her will, Christina swore to this false statement as being true in her 1977 legal objection.
Re: Item #15: “That on occasions immediately prior and subsequent to October 28, 1976, decedent made objective showings and expressions of the warmest love and affection of contestant.”
False. According to the content within Christina's 40th anniversary of "Mommie Dearest," she and Joan were NOT expressing the "warmest love and affection" towards one another. In fact, according to Christina, Joan would not speak with her, or acknowledge her letters. Christina was knowledgeable of this aspect when she swore to the validity of this statement in her 1977 legal objection. According to Christina's memoir, she last spoke to Joan on Christmas day 1971. This was a full 4 1/2 years prior to Joan's death. Therefore, her claim that the "warmest love and affection" between them occurred "immediately prior and subsequent to October 28, 1976" is a direct contradiction.
The following are excerpts from Christina's memoir describing her and Joan's relationship during Joan's final years:
“In April 1973 I transferred to UCLA…. My mother never picked up the phone to call me personally again. We wrote to one another as the result of holidays … Christmas, her birthday, Mother’s Day and my birthday. There was nothing in between, except once. The Los Angeles secretary called me unexpectedly one afternoon while I was studying for an exam to ask if I had a particular piece of my mother’s jewelry. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about and I was instantly aggravated that Mother should have her call instead of speaking to me personally about it. I told the secretary that if Mother wanted to speak to me, she had my phone number and I’d be happy to talk to her. I said goodbye and hung up. The next afternoon, the secretary called back. She tried to repeat the story of the day before, but I interrupted her. “What the hell is this all about?” I asked bluntly. She nervously replied that Mother had received a piece of jewelry from Uncle Charles McCabe many, many years ago and now that he was dead, it was all she had left to remember him by. Perhaps I’d recall it if she described it to me. It was a heart-shaped pin with diamonds and had rubies dripping down it. A heart dripping with rubies? I really didn’t recall anything about it and I certainly didn’t have it. Then the secretary asked whether I still had it or if I’d sold it! I couldn’t believe this entire conversation. This was really insane. I didn’t know anything about any dripping heart from Charles McCabe. I never had it, Mother never gave it to me and I certainly couldn’t sell anything I never possessed. By now I was in a complete rage with the secretary. I told her I didn’t know anything about the pin, I never had it and when she spoke with Mother she could tell her never, never to have a secretary call me again about anything she should have the common courtesy to speak to me about personally. If she couldn’t find her own jewelry, then she better look to herself to find out where the hell it was because I didn’t know one damn thing about it. I told the secretary never again to bother trying to carry out Mother’s orders because I’d hang up on her before she got one word out of her mouth. With that I repeated that if Mother wanted to talk to me, she had my phone number and she could damn well use it. I tried immediately to get Mother on the phone through the Pepsi switchboard which was the only number I now had for her. She didn’t take my call that day or any of the other times I tried to reach her. I was so furious I nearly got on a plane and went to New York in person. No one ever bothered to ask “if” they just assumed that whatever that crazy bitch said was the truth. No one asked “if” I knew anything about it, they only asked what I’d done with it. Okay. She wouldn’t talk to me. Well, then just as soon as I calmed down enough to think straight, I was going to utilize the only avenue of communication left between us. I was going to write her a long letter. The following was mailed in early fall 1973."
Excerpts from Christina's letter to Joan:
"I’ve tried very hard to achieve, as an adult, a relationship with you. It was important to me and I can say with all honesty that I did everything I knew how to do—the fact that we now do not have that relationship is a loss for both of us…Because I have been deeply ashamed of you and everything you represent as well as the person you’ve become…there’s a lot of life out there and I intend to participate very fully in it. That I haven’t in the past is not your fault—I wish I could have gotten my shit together sooner—but all that is superfluous."
I never heard one word from her about my letter. It was mailed and never returned, so I assume she received it. But she never acknowledged my letter in any way."
Re: Item # 20: “That the writing herein purporting to be the Last Will and Testament is not the expression of the decedent’s free and unfettered volition but that of a weakened mind overborne by the importunities and blandishments of the said Jerome LaLonde and wife.”
FALSE. Following Christina and Christopher's legal objections to probate Joan's will, it was revealed that Joan's prior will, dating back to at least 1964, excluded Christina and Christopher as beneficiaries. After this information was revealed, along with the lack of witnesses that Joan was an alcoholic in October 1976, Christina and Christopher altered their reasons for objecting to probate to include a claim of monomania.
If one is to believe the version of Joan and Christina's relationship, as it is written by Christina in her memoir, "Mommie Dearest," that would mean that Christina committed multiple counts of felony perjury within this legal document, and did so in the interest of financial gain. Therefore, WHICH version is accurate? Christina's memoir, "Mommie Dearest," or her sworn under-the-penalty-of-perjury legal document? If Christina lied in her Objection To Probate she is guilty of New York State Statute § 210.15, first degree felony perjury. The full statute can be read here.