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12 Over-the-Top Facts About Mommie Dearest

It has been over 35 years since Frank Perry’s cult classic Mommie Dearest came out and rocked Hollywood and audiences alike. The film—an adaptation of Christina Crawford’s book about her abusive upbringing with her adoptive mother, iconic actress Joan Crawford—was annihilated by critics, but fully embraced by fans. It also became a point of contention among everyone involved in its making, from the source novel’s author to the film’s reportedly difficult star, Faye Dunaway.

1. ANNE BANCROFT WAS ORIGINALLY ATTACHED TO STAR.

According to TCM, The Graduate’s Mrs. Robinson was set to play Joan Crawford, until she read Frank Perry and his co-writers’ script, which prompted her to drop out.

2. FAYE DUNAWAY CALLED FRANK SINATRA FOR HELP WHEN SHE LOST HER VOICE SCREAMING, “NO MORE WIRE HANGERS!”

A 1981 clip in The Southeast Missourian reported that Faye Dunaway received vocal coaching from Ol’ Blue Eyes himself when she lost her voice during the film’s most infamous scene. According to the New York Post, Sinatra rushed to her Hollywood trailer and spent 15 minutes with Dunaway, rehabilitating her voice.

3. “MOMMIE DEAREST” WAS A TERM OF ENSLAVEMENT FOR CHRISTINA CRAWFORD.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Christina Crawford opened up about the film’s famous title, saying that, “‘Mommie dearest’ was a term of enslavement. If we just called her ‘Mother’ or ‘Mommy,’ she corrected us over and over and over again.”

4. THE CREW STRUGGLED TO WORK WITH FAYE DUNAWAY.

One of the most frequently reported rumors from the set of Mommie Dearest was that Faye Dunaway was a bit of a nightmare. “People despised Faye,” Rutanya Alda, who played Joan’s assistant Carol Ann, told the Bay Area Reporter. “Joan got her way in a ladylike way. Faye was despised because she was so rude to people. Everyone was on pins and needles when she worked, and everyone relaxed when she didn’t. I wish Faye had learned from Joan.”

5. CRAWFORD WAS A FAN OF DUNAWAY.

Regardless of what the film’s cast and crew thought of Dunaway, the woman she embodied loved her. According to Inside the Actors Studio, Crawford once said, “Only Faye Dunaway has the talent, class, and courage to be a real star.”

6. DUNAWAY GOT PHYSICAL WITH RUTANYA ALDA ON SET.

In an interview with Gay City News, Rutanya Alda recounted her uncomfortable experience with Dunaway. “When [Jocelyn Brando, who played the journalist] saw me go down after Faye hit me, she said, ‘I can’t afford to be injured, [I] just spent six months in the hospital,’” Alda recalled. “Initially, Frank wanted both me and Jocelyn to pull her off Diana [Scarwid, who played Christina], but she saw Faye was out of control and said, ‘No way.’ We did maybe 10 takes and Frank had to deal with it because Faye wasn’t gonna change what she was doing. I got knocked down maybe twice—she hit me hard in the chest.”

7. DUNAWAY HATED HOW MOMMIE DEAREST TURNED OUT.

As reported by The Guardian, Dunaway couldn’t stand by the movie: “It was meant to be a window into a tortured soul,” she said. “But it was made into camp.” She later said on Inside the Actors Studio that, “I feel uncomfortable with the persona that’s out there as a result of the Crawford picture. It was kind of a Kabuki performance.”

8. CHRISTINA CRAWFORD WANTED TO WRITE THE FILM, BUT HER SCRIPT WAS REJECTED.

Robert Getchell, Tracy Hotchner, Frank Perry, and Frank Yablans were the film’s credited writers. According to Vanity Fair, Christina Crawford’s memoir, on which the film was based, outraged those closest to Joan. Even Cathy Crawford, Christina’s sister, noted: “It makes me very sad. Every time Mommie’s name is mentioned, that book is mentioned. I don’t want to give it any more publicity than it’s already had. Even when people say or write good things about my mother, that book gets linked to her name. It’s so unfair.”

9. THE IDEA OF FREAKING OUT OVER WIRE HANGERS STEMMED FROM JOAN’S CHILDHOOD.

In the documentary Mommie Dearest: Joan Lives On, interviewees recalled the story about where that infamous line came from. Apparently, Crawford’s mother worked at a dry cleaner during a very difficult time in Crawford’s life growing up, thus triggering bad memories. Crawford’s thought process: Why have them in her home if she could afford better?

10. COSTUMER IRENE SHARAFF WALKED OFF THE SET.

In 2015, Rutanya Alda wrote The Mommie Dearest Diary: Carol Ann Tells All, a memoir about the making of the film, which recalled how costume designer Irene Sharaff was reduced to tears—and walked off the set—because she was so “horrified by some of Faye’s outfit decisions.” When Sharaff left, an assistant mocked Faye’s constant screaming of, “Clear the set!”

11. A CHAIR IN CRAWFORD’S ON-SCREEN HOME CAME FROM THE SET OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.

In a 1981 interview with Roger Ebert, producer/writer Frank Yablans took the famed critic on a tour of the film’s set, which he said cost $480,000. During the visit, he made sure to single out one particular piece of furniture. “This chair was originally built as a throne chair for Cecil B. DeMille for The Ten Commandments,” he told Ebert. “What did we do? We painted it white. It looks perfect in this situation.”

12. TO LAND THE ROLE, DUNAWAY SHOWED UP AT PRODUCER FRANK YABLANS’ HOME DRESSED AS CRAWFORD.

According to The Village Voice, the star decked herself out head to toe to look like the actress in order to impress Yablans. “When Yablans saw what looked like back-from-the-dead Joan standing before his eyes, he almost had a heart attack and plotzed,” Michael Musto reported.

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10 People Who Have Misplaced Their Oscars
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Winning an Oscar is, for most, a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. Unless you’re Walt Disney, who won 22. Nevertheless, owning a little gold guy is such a rarity that you’d think their owners would be a little more careful with them. Now, not all of these losses are the winners' fault—but some of them certainly are, Colin Firth.

1. ANGELINA JOLIE

After Angelina Jolie planted a kiss on her brother and made the world wrinkle their noses, she went onstage and collected a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Lisa in Girl, Interrupted. She later presented the trophy to her mother, Marcheline Bertrand. The statuette may have been boxed up and put into storage with the rest of Marcheline’s belongings when she died in 2007, but it hasn’t yet surfaced. “I didn’t actually lose it,” Jolie said, “but nobody knows where it is at the moment.”

2. WHOOPI GOLDBERG

In 2002, Whoopi Goldberg sent her Ghost Best Supporting Actress Oscar back to the Academy to have it cleaned and detailed, because apparently you can do that. The Academy then sent the Oscar on to R.S. Owens Co. of Chicago, the company that manufactures the trophies. When it arrived in the Windy City, however, the package was empty. It appeared that someone had opened the UPS package, removed the Oscar, then neatly sealed it all back up and sent it on its way. It was later found in a trash can at an airport in Ontario, California. The Oscar was returned to the Academy, who returned it to Whoopi without cleaning it. “Oscar will never leave my house again,” Goldberg said.

3. OLYMPIA DUKAKIS

When Olympia Dukakis’s Moonstruck Oscar was stolen from her home in 1989, she called the Academy to see if it could be replaced. “For $78,” they said, and she agreed that it seemed like a fair price. It was the only thing taken from the house.

4. MARLON BRANDO

“I don’t know what happened to the Oscar they gave me for On the Waterfront,” Marlon Brando wrote in his autobiography. “Somewhere in the passage of time it disappeared.” He also didn't know what happened to the Oscar that he had Sacheen Littlefeather accept for him in 1973. “The Motion Picture Academy may have sent it to me, but if it did, I don’t know where it is now.”

5. JEFF BRIDGES

Jeff Bridges had just won his Oscar in 2010 for his portrayal of alcoholic country singer Bad Blake in Crazy Heart, but it was already missing by the next year’s ceremony, where he was up for another one. He lost to Colin Firth for The King’s Speech. “It’s been in a few places since last year but I haven’t seen it for a while now,” the actor admitted. “I’m hoping it will turn up, especially now that I haven’t won a spare! But Colin deserves it. I just hope he looks after it better.” Which brings us to ...

6. COLIN FIRTH

Perhaps Jeff Bridges secretly cursed the British actor as he said those words, because Firth nearly left his new trophy on a toilet tank the very night he received it. After a night of cocktails at the Oscar after-parties in 2011, Firth allegedly had to be chased down by a bathroom attendant, who had found the eight-pound statuette in the bathroom stall. Notice we said allegedly: Shortly after those reports surfaced, Firth's rep issued a statement saying the "story is completely untrue. Though it did give us a good laugh."

7. MATT DAMON

When newbie writers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck took home Oscars for writing Good Will Hunting in 1998, it was one of those amazing Academy Award moments. Now, though, Damon isn’t sure where his award went. “I know it ended up at my apartment in New York, but unfortunately, we had a flood when one of the sprinklers went off when my wife and I were out of town and that was the last I saw of it,” Damon said in 2007.

8. MARGARET O'BRIEN

In 1945, seven-year-old Margaret O’Brien was presented with a Juvenile Academy Award for being the outstanding child actress of the year. About 10 years later, the O’Briens' maid took the award home to polish, as she had done before, but never came back to work. The missing Oscar was forgotten about when O’Brien’s mother died shortly thereafter, and when Margaret finally remembered to call the maid, the number had been disconnected. She ended up receiving a replacement from the Academy.

There’s a happy ending to this story, though. In 1995, a couple of guys were picking their way through a flea market when they happened upon the Oscar. They put it up for auction, which is when word got back to the Academy that the missing trophy had resurfaced. The guys who found the Oscar pulled it from auction and presented it, in person, to Margaret O’Brien. “I’ll never give it to anyone to polish again,” she said.

9. BING CROSBY

For years, Bing Crosby's Oscar for 1944’s Going My Way had been on display at his alma mater, Gonzaga University. In 1972, students walked into the school’s library to find that the 13-inch statuette had been replaced with a three-inch Mickey Mouse figurine instead. A week later, the award was found, unharmed, in the university chapel. “I wanted to make people laugh,” the anonymous thief later told the school newspaper.

10. HATTIE MCDANIEL

Hattie McDaniel, famous for her Supporting Actress win as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, donated her Best Actress Oscar to Howard University. It was displayed in the fine arts complex for a time, but went missing sometime in the 1960s. No one seems to know exactly when or how, but there are rumors that the Oscar was unceremoniously dumped into the Potomac by students angered by racial stereotypes such as the one she portrayed in the film.

An earlier version of this post ran in 2013.

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"Weird Al" Yankovic Is Getting the Funko Treatment
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

Though the New York Toy Fair—the largest trade show for playthings in the western hemisphere—won't officially kick off until Saturday, February 17, kids and kids-at-heart are already finding much to get excited about as the world's biggest toy companies ready to unleash their newest wares on the world. One item that has gotten us—and fans of fine parody songs everywhere—excited is "Weird Al" Yankovic's induction into the Funko Pop! family. The accordion-loving songwriter behind hits like "Eat It," "White & Nerdy," "Amish Paradise," and "Smells Like Nirvana" shared the news via Twitter, and included what we can only hope is a final rendering of his miniaturized, blockheaded vinyl likeness:

In late December, Funko announced that a Weird Al toy would be coming in 2018 as part of the beloved brand's Pop Rocks series. Though we know he'll be joined by Alice Cooper, Kurt Cobain, Elton John, and the members of Mötley Crüe, there's no word yet on exactly when you’ll be able to get your hands on Pop! Al. But knowing that he's coming is enough … for now.

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