I awoke this morning and thought to myself, "Today is some special anniversary--can't for the life of me think what it is!" I zipped through the births and deaths in Wikipedia: Erich von Stroheim, Florence Nightingale the only persons worthy of mention for an international audience. Then I remembered that it's thirty-five years this weekend since we lost Joan Crawford, one of the greatest legends to emerge from the Hollywood dream factory. The star who was derided in Mommy Dearest by an ungrateful daughter.
Joan adopted four children. Two treated her like dirt after she died, two revered her memory. I know which two I believe. If Christina Crawford really got whacked by wire coat-hangers, do you honestly think they wouldn't have noticed at her swimming school? And the son, Christopher, in and out of corrective faculties. God rewarded one with a stroke, the other with an early and largely unnoticed demise.
In my time and linked to my career have been several ungrateful offspring or relatives of dear friends--family scions who claim to have been badly done by by their famous betters, and who of course have always been first in the queue when the time came to hand out spondoolies. Maria Riva, of whom Marlene said to me, "I love my daughter, but I don't like her very much." There was a clip of film where Riva was handling the infamous redincote for the museum in Berlin--she wiped her hands afterwards as if it had bugs. They also buried Marlene in the last place she wanted to be buried--she'd left Berlin on account of the Hitlerian regime, and since then only returned twice, once for a tour which saw them waving placards for her to go home, once to record her "geraniums" album and appear in a television show with Sandie Shaw. Then there was Damia, France's greatest singer before Piaf. I met her twice--once she served us lunch--and she was lovely. When she died some niece stepped out of the shadows and buried her outside Paris in a cemetery it takes hours to get to. Spiteful wretch! The same goes for Betty Mars, whose estranged brother popped up from the sewers to bury her at the back of beyond--this salopard even tried to prevent her friends from attending her funeral. Then there's dear old Joey Stefano, one of the finest young men to have ever drawn breath. He died at twenty-six, and was buried in Philadelphia with his father. The sister came along, decided she didn't approve of Joey having been a "cock star", and had his name removed from the gravestone. Didn't say no the six-figure windfall, of course, from Joey's film royalties. Mean witch!
Thankfully, this will never happen to me. I'm officially "divorced" from my entire clan--indeed, I haven't seen any of them for over twenty years, and prefer things this way. My true family, aside from those living in this house, are the ones mentioned in the Acknowledgements sections of my books.