Third Daughter: Joan Crawford From the Urn

you aren't familiar with what Joan Crawford did to her children in her
will, here's a brief synopsis: After bullying and abusing her kids for
years, Joan Crawford left nothing to 2 of her adopted children "for
reasons well known to them".

I am documenting my last few days this way so I can share this journey with other people who have an interest and in the hopes that people who may find themselves in similar circumstances will find something they can use in this series of posts.

Drama_llama stikes again
Thursday, October 22, 2009, Mid-Afternoon

So picking up from my last post, I got a phone call from my father's widow no long after I spoke with her pastor about adding us to the memorial service bulletin.

Annie: Hello. This is Annie.

Me: Hi, Annie.

Annie: I'm calling about Duke's memorial service. You wanted to be acknowledged on the bulletin?

Me: Yes, I would and so would his 3 other daughters. He had 17 years with my mother before he met you.

Annie: I know he did and he 22 years here with me and his family and friends. he loved and cared for! Well, the church isn't going to include any survivors on the bulletin. You weren't included because Duke didn't want you acknowledged in any way. So, even though it is against his wishes, there will be no survivors listed on the bulletin. I'm sure he sees what's going on and will forgive me.

Me: Why didn't he want us included? What about the obituary?

Annie: You never visited, you never called, you never even bothered to send a Christmas card. He said that since you guys didn't want to have anything to do with him, you didn't deserve to acknowledged as his kids.You weren't listed in the obituary because he didn't want you listed. He only wanted his wife and son in the obituary.

Me: We had very good reasons not want to have anything to with him. We can't just be erased.

Annie: Like what? He was your father.

Me: Well, he sexually abused me for one and…

Annie: That was never proven! I have the documents to prove it!

Me: It was proven…

Annie: No, it wasn't. The records from the department of child welfare say it wasn't proven.

Me: It was proven, Annie. The doctors proved it. He wasn't convicted because he never wanted to go to trial about it. I KNOW what happened to me, Annie. Just because law enforcement couldn't PROVE it doesn't mean it didn't happen. The laws in California at the time stated that *I* had to remember a specific date and a specific time in order to prosecute him. It happened so often, could not remember one specific date or time. Furthermore, I have letter he wrote to me calling what he did "sex play".  Why WOULD I want to keep in contact with him, let alone visit the guy?

Annie: Do you still have the letter?

Me: Of course I do. I'll share it with you if you like.

Annie: Well what about Daughter #4? He told me he wrote, sent cards and sent presents but he never got anything back so he quit sending things. 

Me: He never sent ANYTHING to my sister…no letters, not cards, not child support, not anything…ever.

Annie: Well he said he did. And what about the house your mom got in the divorce? he said he was buying a house when your parents split up and the court gave your mom the house.

Me: What house? There was no house. They looked at buying a house before my sister was born but decided it was too expensive. We've rented my entire life. When my parents divorced he was living with another woman; the woman he left his family for.

Annie: Oh my god. But he said…

Me: I know what he said, Annie. He lied to you. I am so sorry to have to to tell you this but he lied to you. It was not my intention to upset you further or have this conversation today when you are grieving the loss of your husband but his other kids should be acknowledged.

Annie: Oh, I'm already upset. I've been upset since he's been gone.

Me: I'm sure you are and I'm sorry for that. It was not my intention to cause you more grief; however Duke Spencer had a past and we are a part of it.

Annie: What about Daughters #1 and #2? Where did they come from? Are they older than you?

Me: His first wife, D. He was very young when he married her. Yes, they are older than me and they have children and grandchildren. Daughter #4 just found them 2 years ago. You're his 6th wife.

Annie: I knew he other wives just not how many. I figured I was his 4th or 5th wife. So, you mean I have 4 step-grandchildren and 2 step-great-grandchildren?

Me: If you want to look at it that way, yes.

Annie: Well, can I call you again? I'd like to talk with you some more. I need to go now.

Me: Sure. Get through the service, wait till things calm down and call me when you're ready.  I have nothing against you and no reason to dislike you. Take care of you.

Annie: Okay. I'll talk with you again.

And that was it. I was absolutely enraged by the time I got off the phone with her. Not at her but at him. He had once again ruined someone's life with his lies and and half-truths. Someone with whom he constructed a life with by fabricating his life history. Anything that was uncomfortable or unseemly he simply omitted. If he couldn't omit it, he changed it by telling half the truth and filling in the rest with lies.



15 thoughts on “Third Daughter: Joan Crawford From the Urn

  1. We can go back and forth on what’s true and what isn’t until the cows come home. The bottom line is we likely will never agree. You asked my sister to get her facts straight. In that spirit, I am replying to help you get yours straight. The rest of what I have to say will be shared via e-mail, but I feel compelled to address one issue more immediately.
    As you well know, it was me, and not my sister, who attended the Memorial. My reasons for going are my own (and ones which I’d be happy to share privately), but I can assure you they had nothing at all to do with a desire to associate myself with his name. If connecting myself with him was my objective, I would have made my presence known. The fact that you would even suggest that my not introducing myself was due to a lack of guts is mind-boggling. Quite the contrary – it took every ounce of courage I had to attend. In fact, going was probably one of the gutsiest things I’ve ever done – and NOT introducing myself or advertising my presence, probably one of the most right things. You had enough on your plates mourning the loss of the husband and father of 20 years – throwing in the daughter he wanted nothing to do with that was a reminder of a life he kept from you was not something I felt was right. Out of respect for you and your grief, I chose to simply leave a card and give you the option of making contact. I opted out of attending the reception and answering the questions of the community folks who were in attendance as to who I was how or how I knew Duke. Doing that would have done nothing but make an already difficult time for you, John, Holly, and everyone else that much harder. It’s incredible that you would take that and twist it. Given everything I heard you say in that Church, before your God, I had expected better from you.


  2. Thank you NATUI! You are such a gem. You never fail to make me think, laugh and in this case, smile. I was angry at first, to be sure but everyone is entitled to an opinion. I’m sure of all of his families had very different experiences of who George Owen Spencer was. For us he was a destroyer, a monster who attempted to punish for not wanting more not a kindly, sainted old gentlemen dispensing pearls of wisdom and sage advice.


  3. OMG Krishanna. I can’t believe the nasty attacks your extended “family” are leaving here. He may well have lived a pristine life these past twenty years, but it in no way negates what you and your sister experienced. Stay strong, honey. Don’t let their vile comments get to you. In the South there is a phrase about “showing your ass”. Let them continue to show theirs.


  4. As for whether led to people to believe he was an xtra in movies or not I refer you to for a listing of the newspaper articlesppublished about his ficticious life and times.
    Everything was dropped? Why was it brought it up to begin with? You have copies of paperwork. I sent him copies myself. Further along those lines, if you have said paperwork, why don’t send it on the addresses you have been supplied.
    I have proof of what he did, not only etched in memories but also written in his own handwriting, Annie.
    Because Adolf Hitler loved Eva Braun and his dog, does that make him any less monster?
    Any further comments from you can be sent via e-mail.


  5. Who wants all the attention now? For everyone’s information I have pictures to proof that Duke was in movies and plays in Hollwood, Ohio, and other places. The obituary is true, I Know because I have the orginal service papers and as I said pitures. I have copies of stories of things he has been in. Duke has had his picture taken more than you will ever know. People have seen him in War Wagon, extras do not have there name on the credits. I have a picture of Duke with Jimmy Garner in one of his movies. People here in Payson know him and love him dearly. Most people here new he was married before, but who puts x-wifes on their obituary, I have never seen or heard of that. If he was as bad as you say, why would you want to be associated with that name at a memorial. I know his family was at the memorial even through you didn’t have the guts to introduce yourself to his family he had now. I offen asked him about you guys and he said I have a new life now, they don’t want me. On which one of you said that if he married me, you kids would not talk to him again, and I heard you say it, is that family? So you checked up on him to see when he died, but yet you never talked with him for the last 21 years. As for the sexually abuse was never proven, if the doctor said it was he would have gone to jail. Everything was dropped according to the officials. If you have such papers why aren’t you strong enough to send me copies and proof it. Get all your facts striaght! Annie


  6. Hi Susan- Thanks for your comment and support. Many were the times I wished, it had been a stranger too!
    I think was just as you say, a final twist of the knife, and because he had 22 years worth of lies to cover. I don’t believe he thought we’d ever even know he died.
    As I get further away from it, I see how difficult it was but at the time, all I could do was put one foot in front of the other to get through it.
    Now, aside from some residual fallout, I’m well on to the phase of the journey.


  7. Kris – what a hellatiously horrible thing to have to go through – its almost as if his “wishes” to not acknowledge you were a final twist of the knife he put in place all those years ago.
    As a child abuse survivor of molestation – I am at least thankful that the man who abused me was not a relative – it makes it a bit more bearable knowing that.
    It will be interesting to see how this all pans out for you.


  8. Hiya #2! It is kind of a lot to digest, if you haven’t lived it. Thanks for checking in, I’m glad you did! =) He left when I was 14 and #4 was 4. He did much the same with her as he did with you and #1. I’ve heard my sister refer to him as a “sperm donor” too. And I agree, if he hadn’t met our mothers, we wouldn’t be here.
    As for the adopted boys, I’ve wondered recently if they weren’t just adopted as part of a way to get what he wanted. Sure looks that way from my perspective.
    I’m glad you left your e-mail! Thanks! Talk soon! =)


  9. Hi NATUI! Thanks for your kind words. I agree with you. In many ways she *was* a victim too. How willing, I don’t know. Sometimes we only see what we want to see. She isn’t the first to hook up with a sociopath. If she calls, she calls. If she doesn’t, she doesn’t. I made peace with my childhood a long time ago and she has no information I need. We can get the death certificate to find out the exact cause of death and for genealogical records. Big hugs back! =)


  10. Daughter #2 checking in….now that I’ve had time to digest all this. WOW! I am so sorry he put you through all of that. He left us too, when we were very little, about 58 years ago. I have no real memories of him, just pictures in a photo album, so I really have no feelings. At one time, I wanted to know more about him, but then decided if he cared, he would have found US! Daughter #1 feels that way as well.
    We wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t marrried mom, and as far as we are concerned, he was the ‘sperm donor’ and that’s all. By the same token, his leaving made Mom, a strong woman already, stronger and consequently we grew up the same.
    I’m sorry for the people he professed to love and lied to all his life, and isn’t it odd that he adopted boys but look how he treated his own daughters! Amazing! Well, we all survived him, and hopfully are better for it. I hope you do hear from Annie again–it should prove interesting…


  11. Wow Krishanna. I really admire the fact you are willing to speak with her again. In some ways, she is a victim, too. Perhaps a willing victim? I don’t know. But you are a wonderful person, and I’m glad you haven’t let all this mess take that away from you. Hugs.


  12. Aww, thanks Steph! I forgot about Joan Crawford being a borderline. I’d like to talk with her again as well. It’s anyone’s guess if she will contact me. All I can do is leave the door and my mind open.


  13. “Well he said he did.”
    That’s a very telling line. She knows he did it. I think by the end of your conversation, she was beginning to *believe* he did it as well.
    BTW: It’s widely believed Joan Crawford had borderline personality disorder, which coincidentally is the reason I sat here reading & nodding along. 🙂
    I’m eager to hear if she contacts you again.


  14. Aww, thank you, Tho. That means a lot to me. You know, it wasn’t easy but it wasn’t as hard as it could have been. He’s been dead to me a long time. It’s rather like digging around in a long forgotten suitcase. I’ve felt feelings that I’ve not felt in many years. Like after I hung up the phone with her, I haven’t felt THAT angry in many years. Enraged really. But I am okay and starting a new blog.. =) Stay tuned!


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