10 January 2014

Setting the record straight

Joan Crawford had four adopted children: Christina, Christopher and the identical twins Cathy and Cindy (actually there was another son but he was later reclaimed by his birth mother). After Joan's death in 1977, her eldest daughter Christina wrote a book in which she accused her mother of emotional and physical abuse. The book, called "Mommie Dearest", was published in 1978 and became a huge bestseller (in 1981 it was made into a film of the same name, starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford). Many of Joan's friends and colleagues stated the book was nothing but a lie, but there were others (including actress Betty Hutton, who had lived close to the Crawfords) who said they had seen some of the abuse with their own eyes. Joan's other daughters, Cathy and Cindy, denied any form of abuse, and in 1979 Cathy Crawford LaLonde announced her plans to write a book in which she would set the record straight.

Joan Crawford with her children: Christopher and Christina standing, and the twins Cathy and Cindy seated.
For her book, Cathy LaLonde contacted several of her mother's colleagues and friends, who could corroborate her stories of Joan having been a loving mother. The following letters were written by respectively Barbara Stanwyck and Katharine Hepburn in reply to the letter they received from Cathy:

Source: the best of everything: a joan crawford encyclopedia


July 25, 1979

Mrs. Cathy Crawford LaLonde
1661 Mill Creek Road
Slatington, Pennsylvania 18080

Dear Cathy-

Thank you for your letter of July 12, 1979 and for taking the time to explain about the proposed book you are doing about your mother.

I really don't know how much help I could be to you on this project but I would certainly try to help you in any way possible.

As you very well know, I was not a part of her family life when you children were little- so I could not be any help in that area.

I think the best way of handling this matter is to send me the set of questions that you mentioned in your letter. I will certainly do my very best to answer them.

Your mother was someone I always respected and loved and I would do whatever I could to support her in any way possible. I am pleased to know you are doing the book to set the record straight. I will look forward to receiving the questions and I send my very best wishes to you.

Barbara Stanwyck (signed)



Dear Mrs. LaLonde--

I am sorry to have been so slow in answering your letter but my mail in New York has collected into a huge pile which I have only now begun to attack.

I did not really know Joan at all--
I suppose we met once or twice but that is all and those only brief how-do-you-do's. So there are no anecdotes. There's really nothing which would be of any interest to you. She wrote me very sweet notes at Christmas. And I was aware that she thought well of me or rather of my work. And I always enjoyed her work. And of course she did several with George Cukor, my great friend. He's the one you should talk to as far as her work goes.

I'm sorry that it all has been such a mess.

Katharine Hepburn (signed)

Note:  I couldn't find any information on the internet regarding Cathy LaLonde's book. Makes me wonder if she really went ahead and wrote it.


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  2. https://www.amazon.ca/Not-Girl-Next-Door-Biography/dp/1557837511