Mothers, Daughters, and Drama


Divorces and remarriages. Lawsuits and emancipations. Tell-alls and years of stony silence. We’re talking about the wealthy, the well-known, and the powerful here, so add perceived jealousy, obvious slights, and future financial stakes to an already-heady mix. When famous families feud, the results are often combustible. Nowhere is this more apparent than between mothers and daughters, whose often-complex relationship dynamics manifest in everything from bitter bickering to dramatic courtroom showdowns. Happily, even in Hollywood, many mother-daughter duos move past public embarrassment or prolonged estrangement to a place of reconciliation or at least semi-civility. Well, sometimes they do. CR catalogs our favorites.

Cheryl Crane and Lana Turner

At the age of 14, Crane stabbed and killed her actress mother’s boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato, after he threatened to kill her, her mother, and grandmother. The killing was deemed a justifiable homicide and following a media circus, Turner sent Crane to live in two different psychiatric facilities, after which she returned to LA and later attended Cornell. Crane, who met her now-wife back in 1969, said in a memoir that her mother always knew of her sexuality but worried that others would scrutinize it with the publication of a book. When Crane told Turner her lesbianism had nothing to do with her parenting, Crane says she saw a “huge weight being lifted from her.”

Christina and Joan Crawford

“No wire hangers, ever!” It’s a line that will live in infamy, campily brought into the public consciousness by Christina Crawford’s memoir-turned-movie, Mommie Dearest. In it, Crawford accuses her mother, Joan, then in a career downswing, of adopting her for fame and another shot at stardom while verbally and physically abusing her and her brother during their childhoods. Crawford would publish her memoir following her mother’s death; she and her sibling Christopher had previously been disinherited from Joan’s estate. The film adaptation was said to have shocked Crawford, while Faye Dunaway, who played her mother, largely regretted taking the role and often refused to speak of it in interviews.

B.D. Hyman and Bette Davis

Like Christina Crawford, Hyman was the daughter of a screen legend—Bette Davis, who also famously feuded with Joan. And, like the younger Crawford, Hyman would briefly appear in front of the camera, before writing her tell-alls, My Mother’s Keeper and Narrow is the Way. In the former, Hyman chronicles her mother’s alcoholism and accuses her of staging fake “suicides” to teach a lesson. Ironically enough, Hyman had by then become a born-again Christian and would release the book just in time for Mother’s Day, 1987, while Davis was still alive and recovering from a stroke, a mastectomy, and a broken hip. Davis would tell an interviewer that, “Realizing she had written this book about me was as catastrophic as the stroke.”

Drew and Jaid Barrymore

According to her memoir-ish book, Wildflower, Drew was out partying with her momager, Jaid, up to five times a week—at the age of eight. After a stint in rehab and a year and a half in a mental institution, Barrymore would emancipate herself from her parents at age 14, per the mental facility’s suggestion. After a short period of pariah-dom, the former child star would go on to become a big box office draw yet again, starting a production company and ultimately launching beauty and home lines. In 2014, Drew told an interviewer that she and her mother “can’t really be in each other’s lives right now.” But three years later, she would post an Instagram of just the two of them, smiling, with the caption, “Proud. Me and my mom. On Mother’s Day!”

Frances Bean Cobain and Courtney Love

After two custody losses, a restraining order, and countless tabloid headlines, Love and daughter Cobain have seemingly found equilibrium in their oft-fraught relationship. By 2015, the women had reconciled for the film Montage of Heck, with Cobain, a musician and writer, executive producing. Speaking to RuPaul recently, Cobain conceded that her mother, who just celebrated the 25th anniversary of seminal ‘90s album Live Through This, was “highly self-destructive.” Proving she’s keen on taking a balanced and mature approach to dealing with the rocker, Cobain added, “When bad stuff happens, as opposed to thinking ‘why is this happening to me,’ I started thinking ‘what is this trying to teach me?’”

Tori and Candy Spelling

It was a plot worthy of her late mega-producer father’s nighttime soap operas: perennially pampered actress Tori Spelling was left what amounted to a pittance of his estimated 0 million fortune, having to fend with just 0K. While the average person might be just fine, Tori was not—reportedly racking up multiple six-figure debts for shopping, plastic surgeries, vacations, cars, real estate, and lavish LA child rearing. Tori, in part, blamed her poor money-management skills on the fact that money was never discussed growing up. For now, Candy is believed to pay for much of the costs associated with caring for her five grandkids—and has gone on record saying she hopes Tori and her husband don’t have a sixth.


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