Just Some Little Girl and Other Mostly True Stories

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Mangano is most famously known for her first product: the Miracle Mop, but she holds more than patents for her inventions, including Huggable Hangers, the best-selling product in HSN history.

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And those articles that do detail her rise to fame are virtually identical, name-dropping all the same inventions, sales numbers, awards, and career milestones you see above. Until the release of Joy , in which Jennifer Lawrence plays a very Mangano-esque entrepreneur, Mangano has fostered what appears to be a painstakingly curated and protected image while remaining firmly in the public eye. An example: we attended a cocktail party celebrating her 15th year with HSN, but everything about the seemingly benign event, in which we spoke with Mangano for a few moments, was deemed confidential.

Information about her life prior to creating the first prototype of the Miracle Mop in , though the bulk of the story in Joy , is particularly hard to come by.

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The basics are out there: she was born in East Meadow, New York, in She began inventing at an early age, and graduated from high school a year early and with honors. She met her husband, Anthony Miranne —a fellow business student—while studying at Pace University, and they married shortly after graduation.

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Mangano then struggled to pay the bills working as an airline-reservations manager and waitress while living with her kids in a two-bedroom ranch house in Smithtown, Long Island. In , her idea for the Miracle Mop was born.

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The period between her divorce and starting work on the Miracle Mop was an absolute nightmare to find any information about. Which is what makes Joy especially fascinating—it primarily follows the main character through that little-known time from age 10 to 40, which means there are never-before-known nuggets of information about Mangano buried within the narrative. But I think that a lot of those elements that wove those generations together had to do with things that David knew about people in his own family and other strong women.


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Russell had unfettered access to Mangano, and his research with her was exhaustive. Just a few examples of O. Mangano did sell more than 18, mops during her initial hour-long appearance on air, as is shown in the movie.

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The first version of the story was a more straightforward biopic, and Mangano has been heavily involved from the very beginning. And the Broberg family, confessional to a fault, are primed more for honesty than for self-inspection.


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  • The result is a documentary that exposes them for public scrutiny without pausing to really interrogate their actions. Jan was one of three daughters born to Bob Broberg, a florist, and Mary Ann. The movie includes pictures Berchtold took of Jan as a year-old girl, all straw-colored hair, wide eyes, and freckles.

    In one, her underwear is clearly visible. In October , Berchtold offered to pick Jan up from her piano lesson and take her horseback riding. He never brought her home.

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    The details that follow spiral quickly from strange to appalling. Other revelations, though, come thick and fast. Berchtold, it transpires, had repeatedly tried to infiltrate other families with young girls, and had been reprimanded by the high council in his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, for doing so.

    He convinced Bob and Mary Ann that his subsequent treatment by a psychologist involved spending multiple nights in bed with Jan.


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    The parental behavior that Mary Ann and Bob freely confess to in Abducted in Plain Sight is so bewilderingly naive that the more salacious and peculiar events Borgman goes on to lay out are almost hard to grasp. Without spoiling the most shocking ones, they involve multiple confessions of extramarital sexual relationships, as well as an elaborate plot involving aliens that Berchtold used to prey on Jan. Berchtold was arrested for kidnapping, but the Brobergs, under duress, withdrew their most serious charges.

    Berchtold was sentenced to five years in prison anyway but served only 10 days. A few people in the movie vaguely assert that it was the s, and no one really understood what pedophiles were, or that intimate friends and family members could also present a real danger to children.