Just in case any more happened to be needed.
I recently discovered Helen Hayes‘s memoir, in which the grande dame talks about becoming an unlikely friend of Joan Crawford starting in the ’30s, possibly because Helen didn’t pose a threat to Joan’s movie allure.
But years later, Helen got into trouble when she decided to make some nice gestures in honor of Joan’s son Christopher’s birthday.
She festooned her dressing room with balloons and a “Happy Birthday, Christopher” sign, throwing Joanie into a hemorrhoidal rage.
Writes Hayes, “She resented turning his birthday into a celebration.”
Furthermore, whenever Helen had lunch with the Crawford clan, Helen noticed that if the kids dared to speak, Joan would angrily snap them into silence.
After that, they had to say, “Mommie dearest, may I speak?” and wait for the dragon lady’s approval.
Worst of all, poor Christina was forced to stay at school all summer, when there was practically no one else there.
Joan’s rationale for this abuse? This way, Christina would realize how she was much better off at home!
At one point, concerned onlooker Dinah Shore begged Helen to do something to stop the heinous treatment, but Helen knew that Joan would never change, and besides, the intervention might even fuel her into larger fits of rage against the kids.
Oh, I hope I was allowed to speak, reader dearest.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 21, 2011