photoset: mildred pierce

4

“The thing about Joan I keep coming back to is the incredible weight she carried from childhood, the terrible abuse, poverty and a mother who never wanted her. She carried this incredible sorrow. From there, she climbed to the top. Her ambition was monumental. MGM taught her how to walk, how to talk- there’s this Mid-Atlantic upper-class accent- and yet there are moments when you see it all fall away.” -Jessica Lange

“…very disturbing childhood, raised by a tyrant of a mother who whipped her causing bleeding welts across her legs…young Joan’s father had abandoned the family. Her brother Hal showed no sympathy for her. Her mother’s second husband Mr.Henry Cassin was kind to her, but he also left the family. Sent to a catholic boarding school, St. Agnes, she worked at waiting on tables because her mother could not afford tuition. Finishing her curriculum at St Agnes, her mother found her Rockingham Academy, in Kansas, who took her on as a pupil in exchange for her cleaning fourteen rooms of the mansion, scrubbing toilets, bathing the young children and tucking them in bed. She got five hours sleep on average. Life was hard at the academy as the principal would also beat the child. She tried running away, but was returned and further beaten. Neither her home nor school allowed escape from beatings. While Joan was schooling, her mother had a new man installed at home and he too would beat Joan mercilessly…this was when she dreamed of becoming a professional dancer.” -Vince Voice

“She had a Dickinson childhood. She was abandoned by her father before she could even remember him, then her stepfather abandoned her. She was forced to go to work in schools at the age of nine, clean toilets, she was beaten by her mother, by sadistic school mistresses, she was treated as a third class citizen by the other students in those schools.” -Bob Thomas