With the airing of the new show Feud, many viewers are becoming curious about the personal histories of the series' real-life subjects — like their family lives. The FX show depicts the contemptuous and volatile relationship between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford during the filming of their 1962 movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. Kiernan Shipka, of Mad Men fame, has already debuted as Davis' daughter B.D. Hyman on the show, but little is known about how much Crawford's kids will factor in. That has led many fans to wonder: Where are Joan Crawford's kids now?
Crawford adopted five children over the course of her lifetime, raising four (one, a boy, was reclaimed by his birth mother). Crawford's oldest daughter, Christina, went on to write Mommie Dearest, a scathing tell-all memoir about life with her mother that detailed allegations of abuse over a period of years, after her mother's death in 1977 and after discovering that Crawford had written both Christina and her brother Christopher out of her will. The book was soon after turned into a movie starring Faye Dunaway as Crawford. In the years since, other members of Crawford's family have publicly disavowed Christina's claims of abuse.
Christina has written several other books (both fiction and non-fiction) in the years since. In 2013, she released a documentary called Surviving Mommie Dearest.
In a 1978 Los Angeles Times interview, Crawford's only son, Christopher, backed up his sister Christina's abuse allegations. "She was not a mother," he said "She was not a family. I honestly to this day do not believe that she ever cared for me." Christopher died in 2006 from cancer in Greenport, New York, just short of his 63rd birthday.
In a 1996 interview, one of Crawford's other daughters, Cynthia "Cindy" Crawford Jordan, called her mother a "disciplinarian," but denied that she'd experienced any abuse at Crawford's hands, calling her "caring and living." Suffering from hepatitis, Cindy died at the age of 60 in 2007, having divorced her only husband 31 years earlier.
Cindy's twin, Catherine "Cathy" Crawford LaLonde, like Christina, is still alive, though the two surviving siblings are estranged, with Cathy even suing her older sister for defamation back in the '90s (a suit which she later won). In an interview for Charlotte Chandler's 2008 Crawford biography Not the Girl Next Door, Cathy explained how her experience being raised by Crawford differed from what Christina reported: "We lived in the same house as Christina, but we didn’t live in the same home, because she had her own reality. 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."
Fans may never know what really went on inside the Crawford household, but it's something Feud will undoubtedly explore as the season progresses.