Unlike many of the mothers on this list, Joan Crawford was, sadly, a real person: brilliant Oscar-winning actress, amazingly lousy mom. The movie Mommie Dearest was based on a a memoir by Crawford's adopted daughter Christina the recounting the many traumas her vain, demanding, perfectionist mother visited on her as she wrestled with the (not unrelated) problems of her alcoholism, her flagging career and her hopeless love life. Matters come to a head in the unforgettable sequence where Joan goes berserk after discovering that Christina has hung her dresses on wire coat hangers. ("You live in the most beautiful house in Brentwood, and you don't care if your clothes are stretched out from wire hangers!" Well, she did have a point.)
Though the memoir was a huge bestseller it was published after the mom in question's death the movie was a critical disaster, and it's often said that Faye Dunaway, who played Joan Crawford, never quite recovered from the role. But Mommie Dearest (as Joan instructed Christina to call her, and "mean it!") quickly flipped into a camp classic audiences actually showed up with wire hangers and cleaning supplies, ready to participate in the fun, a la Rocky Horror. A bad mommy, even unto death, Crawford left her daughter precisely nothing in her will.
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