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posted: 11/20/2012 6:00 AM

Francis' book is a 'Diary' worth a read

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  • "Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter" by Melissa Francis

    "Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter" by Melissa Francis

Associated Press

From Brooke Shields to Lindsay Lohan and even "Modern Family" actress Ariel Winter, the idea of someone having a "stage mom" is commonplace in our lexicon.

Fox Business Network anchor Melissa Francis isn't just familiar with the term, she lived it.

Francis grew up a child actress, landing a full-time role on "Little House on the Prairie" when she was 8 years old.

What people might not know is that her mother was so invested in her daughter's showbiz career that she was often manipulative and selfish.

Francis writes about her own "Mommy Dearest" experience in the memoir, "Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter." She tells how her mother was like a drill sergeant, making sure she was prepared and punctual for auditions and jobs, while at home, the conditions were often that of squalor. Laundry would pile up, often there was no food in the refrigerator, and when Francis wasn't working, her mother would fall into a deep depression.

There are tales in the book of how her mother tried to keep Francis' earnings a secret, and how she took her daughter to be emancipated at age 15 so she would be competitive and able to work more hours.

Interwoven with memories of Hollywood are examples of how Francis' older sister, Tiffany, was often the forgotten child and began to act out as a result. As Francis grows up and wants to focus on being a college student, her sister regresses and becomes more dependent on her parents.

"Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter" is not only a fascinating read but also a sad one because it's the story of a family's destruction.

Ultimately it's also an inspiring story, as Melissa Francis' strength and determination to become more than just a former child star is nothing short of commendable.

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