Sunday, May 11, 2014
Diva Dish: Special Mother's Day Edition
Of course, the original tell-all in this genre is Christina Crawford's Mommie Dearest. It was a best-seller in its time (1978) and that insisted a film be made of it. In case you're from Mars, "Tina" claims her adoptive mother was an abusive, schizophrenic alcoholic. It was, of course, published after Joan Crawford's death and Christina (and brother Christopher) were left out of Joan's will. Two other adopted daughters (not represented in the film for legal reasons) deny the portrayal of Joan in Christina's book.
It immediately became a camp classic (as is the movie with braying Faye Dunaway). At the time, my lover and I threw a very well attended party with the book as its theme. I went to The Erotic Bakery (then in Greenwich Village) to buy a customized cake. I asked for a wire hanger across a butt. "GET OUT!" the clerk howled at me. "We do NOT cater to child abusers, pervert!" (In other words: No wire hangers! EVER!") They had cakes showing two penises and a naked ass, but a wire hanger was too much for their delicate sensibilities. Finally, I just had a conventional Village bakery create it.
Crawford inspired a whole new genre of memoirs from silver-screen divas' daughters. Bette Davis' daughter, B.D. Hyman (married name) wrote My Mother's Keeper in 1985. Basically, it's another character assassination by an ungrateful Hollywood brat. This book is about an egomaniacal and self-centered mother who smokes, curses and drinks too much. As if we ever imagined Bette Davis to be any different in the first place.
A friend's late husband was a neighbor of Bette Davis and her family at their Connecticut home. He told me he often played with B.D. when he was 5 - 7 years old, and that Bette Davis would sometimes appear in her backyard to offer the kiddies milk and home-baked cookies.
The memoir, My Mother's Keeper, was rushed into publication shortly after Bette suffered a debilitating stroke. The indomitable Ms Davis recovered, however.
"Dear Hyman," Bette wrote in a public response. "I am now utterly confused as to who you are or what your way of life is. Your book is a glaring lack of loyalty and thanks for the very privileged life I feel you have been given. If my memory serves me right, I've been your keeper all these many years. I am continuing to do so, as my name has made your book about me a success." Ms Davis subsequently disinherited B.D.
Lana Turner's daughter, Cheryl Crane, wrote Detour, a memoir of her famous mom. In the 1988 book, Cheryl, an out-and-proud lesbian, is very supportive of her mom. It focuses largely on the Johnny Stompanato murder scandal. Cheryl defends Lana and takes responsibility for the stabbing.
As late as 2013, Sachi Parker, daughter of Shirley MacLaine, dissed her mother for a publishing deal in the scandal-ridden Lucky Me. Ms MacLaine responded to the press:
“I'm shocked and heartbroken that my daughter would make statements about me that are virtually all fiction. I've praised her lovingly and truthfully in my own autobiographies.
“I'm sorry to see such a dishonest, opportunistic effort from my daughter for whom I've only ever wanted the best."
And, turnabout being fair play, Nancy Spungen's mother, Deborah, published And I Don't Want to Live This Life after her daughter was stabbed to death by Sex Pistol Sid Vicious at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City. Remember: dead celebrity children can be exploited for cash too!
So Happy Mother's Day, everyone, from Buddy Beaverhausen! More diva dish next weekend!