​Almanac: "Mommie Dearest"

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: May 10th, 1977, 38 years ago today ... the occasion for a cautionary Mother's Day tale.

For that was the day actress Joan Crawford died of a heart attack in New York City.

Born Lucille LeSueur in San Antonio, Texas, she got into show business as a dancer ... and by the 1930s had became one of Hollywood's top actresses.


Crawford won her only Oscar for her starring role in the 1945 film "Mildred Pierce," playing a successful restaurateur in a troubled relationship with her daughter, played by Ann Blyth.

Mildred (Crawford): "Get out, Veda! Get your things out of this house right now before I throw them into the street and you with them!"

But it was Crawford's real-life relationship with her adopted daughter, Christina, that was fated to create lasting controversy.

In a book titled "Mommie Dearest," published the year after Joan Crawford's death, Christina accused her mother of years of physical and psychological abuse.

That posthumous indictment became a movie in 1981 with Faye Dunaway in the leading role: "No wire hangers!"

On the other side of the ledger, many of Joan Crawford's friends and colleagues strongly defended her against Christina's accusations.

And in a 1988 CBS interview, Christina Crawford put her relationship with her mother in a better light ... laying much of the blame for the abuse she suffered on the treatment her mother had received when SHE was a girl:

"For most of the years I was an adult, I tried to get her help," Christina said. "In fact, in one show years and years ago, she said that I had become her best friend, and indeed I was, because I understood her."

We cannot presume to know the truth about Joan and Christina Crawford. What we ARE pretty certain of is that for MOST mothers and their children, today will be the happiest of days.