“I was 12 when I first met Joan. I became her full-time secretary in 1955, but I used to help her on the weekends answer her fan mail and address photo mailers for the fans. She was nice. She was kind to me. A wonderful friend. A lot of tenderness. She had many wonderful, warm and loving qualities. She could be very funny. She had a terrific sense of humor.
I never saw Joan drunk, and I practically lived with her. She didn’t start drinking until the ‘50s. The trouble is she would drink before she would do a television show, so the public would see it, and these reporters and writers would see it.
I knew when Joan scolded Christina for things that Christina had done wrong, but she has exaggerated those stories out of proportion. Christina exaggerates everything. She is psychotic. She is sick. Christina wanted to be a great actress. She wanted to be better than Joan.
They had their ups and downs all the time. Joan would take her back into her fold and something would happen. Christina would do something and Joan didn’t like it, and they would be apart again.
Let me tell you about the rose garden. Joan had told the gardener, Les, time after time to cut the rose trees back. And when he didn’t, Joan did it herself. But in Christina’s book, she says Les said “She’s crazy. I’m going to quit.” Les continued to work for Joan happily until he died around 1958. Then, Les’ wife was the gardener. Joan felt sorry for her, and let her be the gardener until she sold the house.
Les didn’t quit at all. Joan was good to Les and his wife.
Joan and Alfred gave Christina a Thunderbird. She parked in on the wrong side of the street, so it was towed away. They finally took it away from her because it was so expensive to pay for it. Christina went to Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh. Joan paid for her college. Joan paid for Christina’s New York apartment and sent her to Sandy Meisner School for Actors for a year. Joan paid for all of it.
Alfred was the one who recognized that Christopher needed psychiatric help. There was something lacking in his brain. He just couldn’t adjust.
He would just be very arrogant, and he stole. He didn’t like authority. He went to lots of schools. He was expelled from a lot of them. They took him to New York and got a psychiatrist for him. Joan couldn’t keep him in school.
Later Christopher wrote Joan a letter saying, “You’re right. I can’t get a job. I will have to go to night school.”
September 24th, 1978
Betty Barker with Joan Crawford - 1957