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What to know about the feud between co-stars Bette Davis & Joan Crawford

Hollywood wasn’t big enough for these Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, and they weren’t afraid to let each other know.

The late Bette Davis and Joan Crawford had a decades-long rivalry.

Bette Davis & Joan Crawford

Why did Bette Davis and Joan Crawford have beef?

Bette Davis and Joan Crawford started feuding after Bette became involved in a love triangle with Joan’s then-fiancé, Franchot Tone.

While filming Dangerous, co-stars Bette and Franchot became romantically interested in one another.

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When production on Dangerous wrapped, the two went their separate ways.

Franchot eventually married Joan on October 11, 1935.

Bette shared with biographer Michael Thornton: “I fell in love with Franchot, professionally and privately.

“She took him from me.”

She continued: “I have never forgiven her for that and never will.”

Joan remembered the situation differently in her posthumous book, Not the Girl Next Door.

The Oscar winner recalled: “Do you know that when we were making Baby Jane, Bette admitted to me she was ‘absolutely smitten’ with Franchot?

“Franchot and I were already very much involved.”

Joan added: “Franchot said he thought Bette was a good actress, but he never thought of her as a woman.”

Did Bette Davis and Joan Crawford film a movie together?
Bette and Joan’s beef reached a climax during the filming of their joint motion picture, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Joan persuaded Bette to sign on when she agreed to let the Return From Witch Mountain star play Baby Jane.

Bette’s wish was fulfilled as Joan took on the part of Baby Jane’s sister, Blanche.

Production occurred between July and September 1962, and the two actresses clashed throughout filming.

The bad blood between Bette and Joan erupted in instances when:

  • Joan requested a body double for an elder abuse scene where Baby Jane brutalizes Blanche because she didn’t trust Bette not to hit her with extra force
  • While shooting as their characters Baby Jane and Blanche, Bette struck Joan; she supposedly required stitches
  • Joan reportedly filled her pockets with rocks and attached other heavy objects to her person to make herself heavier for a scene where Baby Jane has to drag Blanche down a hallway
  • Bette reportedly suffered minor pains as a result of repeatedly having to reshoot scenes where she had to drag Joan
  • Bette had a Coke machine installed in her dressing room to spite Joan’s then-husband and Pepsi executive Alfred Steele
  • Although filming was complete, the two stars continued to clash while promoting the movie throughout the industry’s awards season.

When Bette was nominated for Best Actress at the 1963 Oscars, Joan’s work in the movie was snubbed.

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Due to the Academy not acknowledging her work in the project, Joan campaigned against her co-star.

She contacted the other actresses nominated for Best Actress and offered to accept the award on their behalf.

At that year’s telecast, Bette ultimately lost the accolade to Anne Bancroft for The Miracle Worker.

Despite their Oscars animosity, Bette and Joan teamed up with Robert Aldrich again for Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

However, the two ladies couldn’t resolve their conflict and clashed again.

This led to Joan dropping out of the film, and she was replaced by Gone With The Wind star Olivia de Havilland.

What did Bette say about Joan after she died?
On May 10, 1977, Joan Crawford died from a heart attack at her New York City apartment.

At the time, outlets reported Bette’s response to her colleague’s death as they quoted her: “You should never say bad things about the dead, only good… Joan Crawford is dead? Good.”

She later told Vanity Fair: “I was not Miss Crawford’s biggest fan, but wisecracks to the contrary, I did and still do respect her talent.”

On October 6, 1989, Bette Davis succumbed to health complications from a battle with breast cancer.

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Nana Akua
Nana Akua
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