Christina Crawford

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Christina Crawford
OccupationWriter, actress
Years active1958–present
Harvey Medlinsky
(m. 1966; div. 1968)

David Koontz
(m. 1976; div. 1986)

Michael Brazzel
(m. 1991; div. 1995)
ParentJoan Crawford (adoptive mother)
RelativesHal LeSueur (adoptive uncle)

Christina Crawford is an American author and actress, best known for her 1978 memoir and exposé, Mommie Dearest, which described her abusive relationship with her adoptive mother, film star Joan Crawford.

Early life and education[edit]

Christina Crawford was born in Los Angeles, California, to an unmarried teen. According to her personal interview with Larry King, her father was married to another woman and supposedly in the Navy; her mother was unmarried. Crawford was adopted from a baby broker in Nevada because Joan was formally denied an adoption by social services for being an unfit candidate in California in 1940.[citation needed]

Christina was one of five children adopted by Joan.[1] Her siblings were Christopher, adopted in 1943, and twin girls Catherine (Cathy) and Cynthia (Cindy) — adopted in 1947. In 1942, another boy, who also had the name Christopher, had been adopted by Joan Crawford, but was reclaimed by his birth mother.[2]

After graduating from Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, she moved from California to Pittsburgh to attend Carnegie Mellon School of Drama and then to New York City, where she studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse in Manhattan.[3] After seven years, she gained a Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA. After 14 years as an actress, Crawford returned to college, graduating magna cum laude from UCLA and receiving her master's degree from the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Then she worked in corporate communications at the Los Angeles headquarters of Getty Oil Company.[4]


Crawford appeared in summer stock theatre, including a production of Splendor in the Grass. She also acted in a number of Off-Broadway productions, including In Color on Sundays (1958).[5] She also appeared in At Christmas Time (1959) and Dark of the Moon (1959) at the Fred Miller Theater in Milwaukee,[6] and The Moon Is Blue (1960).[7]

In 1960, due to her mother's career in film, Crawford was given a supporting role in the crime drama film Force of Impulse,[8] which was released in 1961.[9] Also in 1961, Crawford was assigned a small role in the musical Wild in the Country, a film starring Elvis Presley. That year, she made a guest appearance on Dean Miller's NBC celebrity interview program Here's Hollywood,[10] promoting the films.[citation needed]

In 1962, she appeared in the play The Complaisant Lover. She played five character parts in Ben Hecht's controversial play Winkelberg. The same year, she appeared on the CBS courtroom drama The Verdict is Yours.[11] In October 1965, she appeared in Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park, with Myrna Loy, a friend of her mother, before being fired. She was considered a capable actress, but difficult to work with in the industry, described as 'stubborn' by Loy who stated in her autobiography Being and Becoming that "We didn't have any problems in Barefoot in the Park until she appeared. The idea of Joan's daughter playing the role delighted me until I discovered how recalcitrant this child was...I've never known anyone like her, ever. Her stubbornness was really unbelievable. She would not do a single thing anyone told her to do."[12] She also had a small role in Faces (1968), a romantic drama directed by John Cassavetes.

Crawford played Joan Borman Kane on the soap opera The Secret Storm in New York from 1968 until 1969. While Crawford was in the hospital recovering from an emergency surgery in October 1968, Joan asked to "fill in" for Christina. She did so without mentioning it to her daughter, "holding the role" for her for four episodes so that the part would not be recast during her absence. Viewership increased 40% during this replacement time, much to Christina's chagrin.[13] Eventually let go from the series, Crawford insisted it was due to her mother's appearance. The producers, however, said that Joan was gracious, professional and brought huge ratings, and that Christina's character and her storyline had simply run its course.[citation needed]

In the early 1970's, Crawford also was given guest appearances on other TV programs, including Medical Center, Marcus Welby, M.D., Matt Lincoln, Ironside and The Sixth Sense.

Later career[edit]

After Joan Crawford died in 1977, Crawford and her brother, Christopher, discovered that their mother had disinherited them from her $2 million estate, her will citing "reasons which are well-known to them."[14] Though being estranged from (and no longer financially supported by) their famous mother for years, in November 1977, Crawford and her brother sued Joan Crawford's estate to invalidate their mother's will, which she signed on October 28, 1976.[14] Cathy LaLonde, another Crawford daughter, and her husband, Jerome, the complaint charged, "took deliberate advantage of decedent's seclusion and weakened and distorted mental and physical condition to insinuate themselves" into Joan's favor.[15] A settlement between the parties was reached on July 13, 1979, which provided Crawford and Christopher a combined $55,000 from their mother's estate.[16]

In 1978, Crawford's book Mommie Dearest was released. The book accused her mother of being a cruel, violent, neglectful, and deceitful narcissistic fraud who adopted her children only for wealth and fame after she had been labeled "box office poison" following her firing from MGM studios.[1] In 1981, a movie adaptation of the book was released, starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford, Mara Hobel (Mara Boyd) as very young Christina, and Diana Scarwid as adult Christina Crawford. The film was both a critical and financial failure and garnered five Golden Raspberry Awards, including worst picture.

Christina had no involvement with the making of the film, and has categorically denounced the film as "grotesque" and a work of fiction. Christina has repeatedly stated that the film is highly inaccurate, and that the portrayal of her mother in the film is nothing like the real Joan Crawford, specifically citing that her mother never chopped down a tree with an axe, or beat her with a wire hanger as depicted in the film.[17]

Christina Crawford has published five subsequent books, including "Survivor", "Black Widow," "No Safe Place," "Daughters of The Inquisition," and "Scammed."[1]

After a stroke in 1981, she spent five years in rehabilitation before moving to the Northwest.[1] She ran a bed and breakfast called Seven Springs Farms in Tensed, Idaho, between 1994 and 1999.[1] She formed Seven Springs Press in 1998 to self-publish the 20th-anniversary edition of Mommie Dearest in paperback from the original manuscript and included new material about the years after her graduation from high school.[citation needed]

On July 20, 1998, one of Joan Crawford's other adopted children, Cathy Crawford LaLonde, filed a lawsuit against Christina Crawford for "defamation of character." LaLonde stated in her lawsuit that during the 20th anniversary book tour of Mommie Dearest, Christina publicly claimed to interviewers that LaLonde and her twin sister, Cynthia, were not biological sisters, and that their adoption was never legal. Lalonde stated neither claim by Christina was true, and attached copies of the twin girls' birth certificates and adoption documentation to the lawsuit.[18] The lawsuit was later settled out of court for $5,000 plus court costs.[19]

In 2000, Crawford began working as entertainment manager at the Coeur d'Alene Casino in Idaho, where she worked until 2007. She then wrote and produced a regional TV series, Northwest Entertainment. On November 22, 2009, she was appointed county commissioner in Benewah County, Idaho, by Governor Butch Otter,[20] but she lost her bid for election in November 2010.[21] In 2011, Crawford founded the non-profit Benewah Human Rights Coalition and served as the organization's first president.[22] In 2013, she made a documentary, Surviving Mommie Dearest.

On November 21, 2017, the e-book editions of Mommie Dearest, Survivor, and Daughters of the Inquisition were published through Open Road Integrated Media. She is also currently working with composer David Nehls on a stage musical adaptation of Mommie Dearest, to be produced in regional theater.[23] Crawford is currently writing the third book in her memoir trilogy, following Mommie Dearest and Survivor.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Crawford met Harvey Medlinsky, a director and Broadway stage manager, while she was appearing in the Chicago national company of Barefoot in the Park. They were married briefly in the late 1960s.[1] She met her second husband, commercial producer David Koontz, while she was working on a car commercial. They divorced after ten years of marriage.[citation needed]


Film and Television
Year Title Role Notes
1961 Wild in the Country Monica George Feature film
1961 Force of Impulse Ann Feature film
1968 Faces Woman Scattering Coins on Bar Feature film
1968–69 The Secret Storm Joan Borman Kane Series regular
1970 Matt Lincoln Episode: "Sheila"
1970 Medical Center Dr. Myles Episode: "Scream of Silence"
1971 Marcus Welby, M.D. Sister Mary Eileen Kirkpatrick Episode: "Elegy for a Mad Dog"
1971 Ironside Edie Stockton Episode: "Lesson in Terror"
1972 The Sixth Sense Betty Blake Episode: "I Do Not Belong to the Human World"


  • Mommie Dearest (1978) ISBN 0-9663369-0-9
  • Black Widow: A Novel (1981) ISBN 0-425-05625-2
  • Survivor (1988) ISBN 0-515-10299-7
  • No Safe Place: The Legacy of Family Violence (1994) ISBN 0-88268-184-2
  • Daughters Of The Inquisition: Medieval Madness: Origin and Aftermath (2003) ISBN 0-9663369-1-7
  • Scammed: A True Story of Christina & The General (2014) ISBN 0-9663369-4-1
  • Mommie Dearest: Special Edition (2017) ebook ISBN 978-1-5040-4908-5
  • Survivor (2017) ebook ISBN 978-1-5040-4907-8
  • Daughters of the Inquisition: Medieval Madness: Origin and Aftermath (2017) ebook ISBN 978-1-5040-4905-4


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Her Own Private Idaho". People Weekly. August 8, 1994.
  2. ^ Chandler, Charlotte (February 5, 2008). "Daughter Dearest". Vanity Fair. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  3. ^ MacPherson, Myra (November 1, 1978). "Grim Memories of 'Mommie'". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  4. ^ "I'll never forgive Mommie: Joan Crawford's daughter gives first interview in 10 years". the Guardian. May 24, 2008. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  5. ^ Kilgallen, Dorothy (June 23, 1958). "Dorothy Kilgallen's Voice of Broadway". Salt Lake Tribune. Salt Lake City (UT). p. 15.
  6. ^ Parsons, Louella (November 6, 1959). "Louella Parsons in Hollywood". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Milwaukee (WI). pp. 2, section 2.
  7. ^ "On Summer Stages in the County". Biddeford Journal. Biddeford (ME). July 21, 1960. p. 3.
  8. ^ "Reisbergs' Daughter Signed for Film Role". Kittanning Simpson Leader-Times. Kittanning (PA). March 2, 1960. p. 1.
  9. ^ "Force of Impulse". Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  10. ^ Independent Press-Telegram. Pasadena (CA). April 9, 1961. p. 10. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ Penton, Edgar (April 22, 1962). "Cover Story: The Verdict is Yours". Appleton Post-Crescent. Appleton (WI). p. 2.
  12. ^ "Myrna Loy".
  13. ^ Windeler, Robert (October 23, 1968). "Joan Crawford Takes Daughter's Soap Opera Role". The New York Times. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  14. ^ a b "Joan Crawford's Last Will and Testament".
  15. ^ Los Angeles Times, November 19, 1977
  16. ^ "The Concluding Chapter of Crawford".
  17. ^ "Christina Crawford Interviews". Christina Crawford. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved October 22, 2021.
  18. ^ "The Morning Call". July 21, 1998. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
  19. ^ "The Morning Call". November 25, 1999. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
  20. ^ "Otter names 'Mommie Dearest' author to Benewah County Commission". December 10, 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
  21. ^ "Benewah Voters Boot Crawford". November 4, 2010. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
  22. ^ "Benewah coalition promotes tolerance". May 4, 2011. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
  23. ^ BWW News Desk. "Out of the Box Theatrics Presents Reading of MOMMIE DEAREST". Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  24. ^ BWW News Desk. "'Mommie Dearest' Author Christina Crawford Opens Up About Her Past and How She's Moving Forward". Retrieved December 8, 2017.

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