Why Did Bette Davis and Joan Crawford Hate Each Other?


Joan Crawford was a box office celebrity before Bette Davis acted in movies. 

Joan had already slept her way to the top, and gone so far as marrying the actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Davis found how the tabloids obsessed on Crawford’s love life incredibly annoying.

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Bette had been jealous of Crawford’s relationship with Clark Gable, on whom she had a crush, but it was Franchot Tone who the two really fell out over. Tone, who was dating Crawford, was Davis’s leading man in Dangerous. Davis fell in love with him, but he married Crawford.

Davis slowly but significantly eclipsed Crawford and became an extremely famous movie star. In the 1940s both were employed by Warner Bros., where they were assigned to adjoining dressing rooms.

Crawford urged Davis to come over to her house, and so she sent a succession of flowers and presents , though all of them got returned. Davis made snide comments about “lesbian overtures,” and Crawford attempted but could not change her mind about them.

While both were still well-known, their best years were behind them by 1962. Both Crawford and Davis left Warner brothers, and both were short of a blockbuster hit. Crawford went to see Davis, and pitched What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? to her. After reading the book, Davis was curious about the director Robert Aldrich, and went to see if she was going to play Jane, and was Robert sleeping in Crawford’s bed. She had two questions for him: would he be playing Jane, and was he sleeping in Crawford’s bed?

Filming got off to a successful start, both celebrities were in fine spirits, and they were cordial in public. However, they were soon quarrelling: before long, they were at one another’s throats.

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Both called the director Robert Aldrich
nightly to complain about the other.

Davis sent a letter to Crawford telling her that, if he doesn’t stop sending little gifts and notes to the cast to win their affection, she’ll “GET OFF THE CRAP.”

In order to capture the scene where Jane beats Blanche, Crawford was concerned that Davis would in fact injure her, and thus requested that there be a body double. There was one close up but there was, in reality, a body double that could be used.

While filming, Davis duly smothered Crawford’s head while Crawford howled. “I hardly touched her” said Davis, completely unapologetic. Others claim that Crawford needed stitches as a result of the superficial injury that were a result of the Davis head bite.

It was Crawford’s revenge on the following Monday, at which time Jane dragged Blanche out of bed and across the room. Knowing that Davis had back problems, Crawford made herself as heavy as she could.

Astonishingly, several years after What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Davis and Crawford began working together again, on Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte. However, within a few days of filming, Davis’ venom was even more rapid than usual.

They never worked together again afterward, and there were no more documented altercations. Nevertheless, this famous Hollywood feud is still remembered to this day.

Why Bette Davis and Joan Crawford’s feud lasted a lifetime
Joan Crawford’s crush on Bette Davis also fuelled feud, Davis confidante says in new book
Bette Davis Found the Cruelest Way To Torment Her Hollywood Rival Joan Crawford

Crawford’s death did not bring an end to the animosity. Davis allegedly stated, “You shouldn’t say anything bad about the dead, only positive things. . . Joan Crawford is dead. Good.”

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