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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Beaverhausen Book Nook: The Mommie Dearest Diary ~ Carol Ann Tells All

Now it can be told ~ from Rutanaya Alda's (Carol Ann from the movie Mommie Dearest) point of view! It's not a pretty picture, gossip fans rest assured. As Faye Dunaway has her own memoir coming out about the making of Mommie Dearest, this could turn into a she said/ she said gossip feud.

Rutanya describes a very chaotic set and shoot. She quotes sources and strongly implies Dunaway had a substance abuse problem at this time. She cites people in the film industry, like Bette Davis and Roman Polanski, discussing their own difficulties working with the tempestuous star. Dunaway has accused Mommie Dearest of ruining her career but, clearly, it was her own reputation to blame.

Ms Alda recalls emigrating from Latvia to the USA as a child and of her own physical and emotional childhood abuse by her mother. She also recalls meeting the real Joan Crawford on the set of Rosemary's Baby where she was Mia Farrow's stand-in.

Rutanya's book has many fascinating stories about the bevy of Hollywood stars and directors she's worked with, and her personal life, though the focus is on the chaotic set of 1981's now camp classic Mommie Dearest, based on Christina Crawford's best-selling autobiography at the time. Faye Dunaway is described as an unstable ego-monster, as over-the-top on the set as she is on-screen, assured she was going to be nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Crawford.

The book has a lot of off-topic padding as well as unnecessary diary entries, like "Friday, January 23 (No entry)," for instance. However, when it gets to the meat of the matter, Carol Ann indeed tells all in juicy, delicious detail: Faye's on- and off-the-set discord with Diana Scarwid (the teen & adult Christina); director Frank Perry's weaknesses as a director kowtowing to his star's whims; veteran technical people quitting the making of the movie; how Faye stole her role from under Anne Bancroft's nose; Faye carelessly cutting into child actress Mara Hobel's flesh during the haircut scene; Faye Dunaway insisting on eight takes of slapping Caol Ann (rehearsing for Mildred Pierce), once so hard as to leave an imprint on her co-star's face; and much more.

Everything considered, I can only recommend this book to die-hard fans of the film and avid readers of behind-the-scenes Hollywood memoirs.

Available at Barnes & Noble and

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