Did Bette Davis kick Joan Crawford in the head while filming What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Reports differ. While Bette Davis
and Joan Crawford
had one of the longest-running feuds in Hollywood history, reports differ as to whether they actually physically fought in 1962, but the stories are bonkers either way.
The rivalry between the two leading ladies started many years earlier. In 1933, Davis secured her first above-the-title role in the film Ex-Lady
. But on the day the news of her success was supposed to cement her star status, Crawford announced she was divorcing her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
The story dominated the tabloids, and Ex-Lady
Two years later, while Davis was filming Dangerous
, she fell in love with costar Franchot Tone
. Unfortunately for Davis, Tone ended up marrying Crawford. These two incidents would fuel a decades-long rivalry that included
ruthless competition for roles and awards, trash-talking each other in the trades, petty slights and allegedly, outright physical violence.
Things came to a head when Davis and Crawford were both cast in 1962’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane
? Crawford was on the board of directors for Pepsi, so to kick things off, Davis had a Coke machine installed in her dressing room out of spite. One scene required Davis’ characters to beat Crawford’s. Crawford reportedly didn’t trust Davis not to harm her, so she requested a body double. But in one shot that required Crawford, Davis allegedly kicked Crawford so hard in the head she needed stitches. For her part, Davis claimed
she “barely touched her.”
But Crawford found an inventive way to get Davis back. In another scene, Davis had to drag Crawford out of a bed. Davis had been experiencing back problems, so Crawford decided to make herself as heavy as possible. According to differing reports, Crawford either
used a weightlifting belt, filled her pockets with rocks or just made herself deadweight. She also ruined several takes on purpose, forcing Davis to repeat the scene over and over again and leaving her in agony.
It’s no wonder that the longstanding rivalry between these two icons was chosen as the first season for FX’s 2017 show, Feud