Christina Crawford 2013

As Mother's Day approaches, let's take a moment to celebrate one of the biggest mothers of 'em all. That's what Christina Crawford is doing all week in New York City with five limited-run screenings of her new Surviving Mommie Dearest: Tears to Triumph documentary. Her mother, Joan Crawford, was a movie legend by the time Christina was adopted and went to live what seemed to be a charmed Hollywood life. But according to Christina's controversial 1978 autobiographical book Mommie Dearest (which also became a screen epic starring Faye Dunaway in 1981), these was violence, abuse and even (famously) wire hangers! To say that this was a turbulent parent/child relationship would be an understatement, and eventually Christina and her also adopted brother, Christopher, were cut out of Joan's will.

While all this drama has no doubt been painful, it has also served to employ Christina over the many years since it allegedly occurred. In this latest rehash of her life, which she wrote and co-directed with Jerry Rosenberg, she narrates as some recently unearthened home movies of her mother and herself at a birthday party are shown. She also reveals some of Joan's famous lovers (Yul Brynner!? Clark Gable!?) and claims that she had a blue-movie past (in a stag film called The Plumber), which Joan denied. There's a Q&A session with Christina following the screening.

She eventually took the high road of recovery, and went on to become a successful actress, writer and social justice advocate. She even married (three times), though she never had any children. These days, Tina Darling lives on 100 acres in Northern Idaho on an Indian reservation, where she once ran a bed-and-breakfast.

If you'd like a glimpse of her formerly glam life, Surviving Mommie Dearest plays from May 8-12 at the Snapple Theater Center (1627 Broadway). For more information, visit

Joan and Christina Crawford

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