In her last book "This 'N That" Bette Davis said, "Feud is a Hollywood word, a wildly overused Hollywood word. Did Bette Davis and Joan Crawford ever feud during the filming of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? No!"
"Like, dislike-these were not words I applied to Miss Crawford. Until we were cast as the costars of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? I knew her only slightly. Our paths had seldom crossed, even though for three years we had adjoining dressing rooms at Warners."
"In truth I did not know her any better after the film was completed. Twenty years after we had worked together, and half a dozen years after her death, we are still a team in the public's mind. We finished only one film and started another. We did not compete for parts since we were opposing types of actresses. "
Bette was probably correct when she stated there was no feud. Both women were consumate professionals and neither would have acted up on the set. Crew members on Baby Jane reported that both actresses knew their lines, showed up on time and were cordial to one another during the entire filming of Baby Jane. Crawford mentioned in an interview a number of years later that while they both behaved themselves on the set, she felt Bette's competiveness throughout the filming, and that she (Crawford) would be damned if she would be the "slacker" on this project. "I knew my lines, showed up to the set on time and tried my hardest to get along with everyone including Miss Davis." Bette most certainly felt the same way.
Bette did state that she hardly knew Crawford but both actresses were aware of the stature they each held at their studios. Bette was the queen of the Warner Bros. lot and Joan was MGM's leading lady for many years. Their paths did cross at numerous Hollywood functions and both women were extremely jealous of one another. Bette had the acting credentials. An extensive New York theatrical background and high profile films which garnered her a total of ten Oscar nominations for best actress. Joan on the other hand had the beauty, glamour and style of a movie star something that Bette coveted in private. Needless to say this jealousy that each felt for the other was often acted out in icy stares, upturned noses and catty comments to friends and associates.
On the following pages are comments from Joan Crawford about Bette Davis and Bette Davis about Joan Crawford. Most of these were given in interviews or attributed to them by reliable sources. As you will be able to tell, neither Bette nor Joan were ever at a loss for words when it came to their rival.
of the Bette Davis Joan Crawford Feud
by Bette Davis
"There were many differences between Joan and I. I like myself. Always liked myself and who I am. If I was a school teacher, I would like myself and probably like my life. Even when I wished I was prettier, I liked my personality, my talent. I did not go into acting to escape myself, as many, many actors do. I went into it because I found it thrilling."
"Perhaps with Joan, her dedication to her public image was an attempt to escape her past or her true self, to change herself. I didn't want to change, except on the set. To me, a person is not their looks, but rather what they are inside. When I read biographies, I was most impressed by people who, whatever their looks or background, created something special that they could leave behind to future generations. That is what I wanted to do with my acting, not just live a glamorous life and wear pretty clothes."
All About Joan Crawford
by Bette Davis
Co-Starring Some Other Hollywood Notables
"I have great admiration for Joan Crawford as an actress, but she's a slut. Her whole life is an act. She is what she is, a cheap flapper who likes to get laid" - Louis B. Mayer
Someone once asked Bette Davis in an interview why she thought Joan Crawford's four marriages had not worked out. Bette replied:
" I can only assume that she wasn't a much better wife than a mother."
Bette Davis avoided Joan Crawford at all Hollywood functions. When asked why Bette stated:
"You hang around that woman long enough and you'll pick up all kinds of useless shit."
In the book, "Bette Davis Speaks" by Boze Hadley he asked Miss Davis if it was true that she said: "There may be a heaven, but if Joan Crawford is there, I'm not going." Bette's reply:
"Monroe was like Crawford. She had an affinity for the camera. There's lot of her type around today. They're not actresses-but creatures of the camera." - Joseph Mankiewicz
"Joan and I have never been warm friends. We are not simpatico. I admire her, and yet I feel uncomfortable with her. To me, she is the personification of the Movie Star. I have always felt her greatest performance is Crawford being Crawford." - Bette Davis
"Joan Crawford hates all women except for those who can help her. If I ever see her again I'll probably strike her in the face." - Mrs. Sterling Hayden
About the death of Joan Crawford:
"There is no need to hole up in an apartment and die alone. No. None. Poor Joan. I wish I could have liked her more." - Bette Davis
"Bette's basic attitude regarding Joan was that she was unstable, untrustworthy, insecure, and unreliable, in friendship and career. She made Davis ornery and nervous and tense. She told her associates that Crawford in her view was a phony and a hypocrite. "There's no way of telling in what direction that Crawford cat will jump!" she said.
All About Bette Davis
by Joan Crawford
Co-Starring Some Other Hollywood Notables
"So I had no great beginnings in legitimate theater, but what the hell had she become if not a movie star? With all her little gestures with the cigarette, the clipped speech, the big eyes, the deadpan? I was just as much an actress as she was, even though I wasn't trained for the stage." - Joan Crawford
Regarding taking over the role of Miriam in "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte" from Joan Crawford who was too sick to complete the picture Vivian Leigh stated: "No thank you. I can just about stand looking at Joan Crawford's face at six o'clock in the morning, but not Bette Davis."
Regarding her being replaced for the film Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte, Joan Crawford stated: "I looked forward to working with Bette again." "I had no idea of the extent of her hate, and that she planned to destroy me...I still get chills when I think of the treachery that Miss Davis indulged in on that movie."
"Bette most admires men who dominate her-yet she always marries men she can dominate." - Sidney Skolsky
In 1973 Joan talked about the makeup the two actresses used in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? " I am aware of how Miss Davis felt about my makeup in Baby Jane, but my reasons for appearing somewhat glamorous were just as valid as hers, with all those layers of Rice powder she wore and that ghastly lipstick. But Miss Davis was always partial to covering up her face in motion pictures. She called it 'Art.' Others might call it camouflage- a cover-up for the absence of any real beauty. "
In an interview after "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" was released, Bette referred to Joan and herself as "we two old broads." Joan sent Bette a note on her traditional blue stationery: "Dear Miss Davis. Please do not continue to refer to me as an old broad. Sincerely, Joan Crawford."
On the set of "Baby Jane" Joan was asked about the differences between herself and Bette Davis, Joan stated: "Bette likes to rant and rave. I just sit and knit. She yelled and I knitted a scarf from Hollywood to Malibu."