In 1978, a year after actress Joan Crawford's death, Christina Crawford released a memoir titled Mommie Dearest. In the tell-all book, Christina exposed her adoptive mother as an abusive alcoholic, and tarnished the socially-conscious actress reputation that the late actress had built during her lifetime.
In 1981, the book was turned into a movie (starring Faye Dunaway and Diana Scarwid) that left little to the imagination. Christina took advantage of her fame and went on to publish five subsequent books on the relationship with her mother. The latest one, Survivor, was released as an e-book in 2017.
More recently, Crawford's life has once again become a topic of conversation after her portrayal in the FX TV series Fued.
Many people who were close to the actress, including her first husband, actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and her two youngest daughters, Cathy and Cindy, denied the allegations brought against Crawford.
Now, another family member has been speaking out about the actress in hopes to set the record straight.
Casey Lalonde, Crawford's grandson from Cathy, has previously stated that while the TV show doesn't paint his grandmother in the best light, it is still a much more favorable depiction than Mommie Dearest.
He claims that his grandmother, whom he called "JoJo," was nothing like the monster that Christina wrote about and he has personal experiences to back it up.
“I’m not here to attack Christina,” Casey told Closer. “Those are her memories — I wasn’t there. I just want to present my side. Joan was a beautiful person.”
Casey admitted that visits to Crawford's Upper East Side apartment were some of his fondest childhood memories.
He reiterated that sentiment in another interview with the Daily Mail, "She always entertained me and my sister at the apartment. We just visited with her just like any other grandmother."
"She was always happy to see us, very warm and pleasant," he added. "She always made us feel comfortable. She made us lunch. I remember sitting in her kitchen, eating lunch with her and then we’d play."
Casey has spent much of his adulthood trying to rehab his beloved grandmother's image. Unlike all the exploitative books, movies, and TV shows, Casey has been screening private home movies of his grandmother's most intimate moments.
He obtained reels of films from his mother, who kept them hidden in her basement for 20 years after Crawford's death. Casey gave some of the reels to George Eastman House for restoration, and he now holds screenings for the public.
The candid films, which were recently screened before a packed house at Film Forum in NYC, were shot in early 1940s and depicted the actress as a loving mother.
“It’s not the Joan Crawford you’d expect,” Casey explained. “If she saw fans’ reactions, I bet she’d love it.”
Some of the scenes show Crawford playing with Christina while others show the Tinsel Town starlet cuddling with Charles McCabe, whom she had a brief affair with before her third marriage to Phillip Terry.
"I certainly don’t whitewash,” Casey continued. “I’m just here to present my recollections.”
Although Casey believes Christina embellished the truth, he does think that Crawford could've been happier and more loving towards her children had her relationship with McCabe worked out.
“Single moms are under incredible pressure, whether they’re a Hollywood star or anyone else,” he said.
Casey currently lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and when he's not busy with speaking engagements and film screenings, he works in public service. He keeps in touch with many of his other family members, but he has never met his aunt Christina.
"I’ve never met her and I probably will have no opportunity to meet her," he told Daily Mail.