Tonya Harding's Mother in First Post-'I, Tonya' Interview: "I Didn't Abuse Any of My Children"
In a two-hour ABC special on Harding's life, LaVona "Sandy" Golden contradicts her daughter's claims that she beat her children almost daily and once threw a knife at Harding.
In her first interview since the release of the Tonya Harding biopic I, Tonya, the real figure skating champion's mother LaVona "Sandy" Golden disputes her daughter's — and the film's — depiction that she was violent and abusive with her children.
During the ABC News two-hour special Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story, which aired Thursday night, Harding claims that Golden beat her at least six times a week and once threw a steak knife at her during a rough upbringing that preceded and took place during Harding's time as a competitor in the 1991 World Figure Skating Championships and 1992 and 1994 Olympics.
"I don’t think that there was more than one day a week, sometimes, that I didn’t get beaten," the former figure skater told Good Morning America news anchor Amy Robach.
"I didn’t abuse any of my children,” Golden responded. “Spanked? Yes, [I] spanked. Absolutely, positively you got to show them right from wrong."
Golden added that she once spanked her daughter with a hairbrush, but never threw a knife at her. “Why would I throw a steak knife at anybody?” she said. Added Golden, “[Harding has] lied so much she doesn’t know what isn’t a lie anymore.”
In the movie I, Tonya, released in early December, Harding (played by Margot Robbie) is shown being beaten by her mother (Allison Janney) and dodging a knife attack. Golden and ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), however, also tell various contradicting versions of events that Harding narrates over the course of the movie, showing her to be an unreliable narrator.
On Thursday, as ABC's special aired, Janney won a Critics' Choice Award for best supporting actress for portraying Golden, and on Sunday, she won a Golden Globe for the role.
Critics have said Janney's Golden telegraphs as a difficult and manipulative mother over the course of the film. "As seen here, Mom was an unloving creature who nevertheless wanted to spend all her time around her daughter once she recognized her talent," John DeFore wrote in his review of the film for The Hollywood Reporter.
During the ABC special, Golden also challenged Harding's claim that she imbibed alcohol before driving her daughter to school each morning.
Harding told ABC News that by the time she was 11 years old, Golden drank a thermos that was half-brandy, half-coffee between 4:30 and 8:00 in the morning and then drove her daughter to school. "You don't do that," Harding said.
"I would have coffee and sometimes I would put brandy flavoring in it. I love brandy flavoring. You can't get drunk on flavoring. Sorry to disappoint you," Golden responded.
Golden describes working three jobs to get Harding the money to take skating lessons, which Harding agrees helped her spend time on the ice. However, she counters that she also had a job at the rink in order to pay for her "ice time."
Jan. 11, 6:08 p.m. Updated with Janney's Critics' Choice win.