On Feud, Ryan Murphy chronicles the scandal that trailed Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, where a long-brewing rivalry between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis hit a fever pitch behind scenes. But some may remember that the film wasn't the only controversy that hung over Crawford's life. Following Crawford's death in 1977, her daughter, Christina, published Mommie Dearest, an explosive memoir alleging Crawford had been emotionally and physically abusive. At the time, the accusations sent shockwaves through Hollywood, but decades removed from the tumult, you may be wondering: What is Christina Crawford doing now?
First, a refresher. Christina was one of five children Crawford adopted, according to Charlotte Chandler's biography of Crawford, Not the Girl Next Door. She was the first, in 1940, followed by a boy, Christopher, in 1942, who was later reclaimed by his birth mother; a second boy, also named Christopher, in 1943; and twin girls, Catherine (Cathy) and Cynthia (Cindy), in 1947.
Chandler writes that Crawford had allegedly known about Christina's book before she died, though she, of course, didn't live to read it. “I think she’s using my name strictly to make money,” she told Chandler at the time. “I suppose she doesn’t think that I’m going to leave her enough or that I’m going to disappear soon enough.”
The response to Mommie Dearest thrust family violence — and the Crawfords — into the national spotlight. According to Not the Girl Next Door, Cathy, Cindy, and Crawford's first husband, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., were among those who categorically denied Christina's claims. “We lived in the same house as Christina, but we didn’t live in the same home, because she had her own reality," Cathy told Chandler. "Cindy and I had a different reality—the opposite. I don’t know where she got her ideas. Our Mommie was the best mother anyone ever had.”
In 1981, Mommie Dearest was adapted into a movie starring Faye Dunaway as Crawford. It was a critical flop, but later achieved cult status, and chatter surrounding Crawford and her children has since dwindled.
Sadly, Chandler's book reveals that Christopher died in 2006 and Cynthia in 2007. Cathy appears to still be living, though her whereabouts have not been widely publicized. Christina, on the other hand, has managed to lead a well-documented but quiet life.
Before Mommie Dearest, she'd started a career in acting, but after its success she turned her focus to writing and penned four more books. Black Widow (1981) was fictional, Survivor (1988) drew from her personal experiences, and both No Safe Place (1994) and Daughters of the Inquisition (2003) were historical explorations.
According to the Lewinston Tribune, she suffered a near-fatal stroke in 1981 and, after several years of physical therapy, moved to Idaho to start a bed and breakfast. In 2009, The Spokesman-Review reported she had been appointed to the Benewah County Commission, where she served for one year before losing her re-election bid. In 2011, she founded the Benewah Human Rights Coalition, a non-profit human rights organization formed with the goal of promoting better relations between members of Idaho's Coeur d’Alene Tribe and nontribal residents. One year later, she wrote and starred in Surviving Mommie Dearest, a documentary that again recounted her alleged abuse, as well as the personal and professional triumphs that followed. At the time of Not the Girl Next Door's publication in 2009, she had been married and divorced three times.
Her most recent interview appears to be with America: The Jesuit Review in 2015, in which she reflected on life, spirituality, and healing. " I am proud of the way I have lived my journey, with both the successes and mistakes, and grateful for the very hard lessons learned," she told the publication. "I accept who I am."
At the end of the day, that's really all you can ask.