For decades, Hollywood has fueled the flames of rumors that legendary actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were bitter rivals, but the two silver-screen heavyweights were actually bosom buddies!
That fact runs counter to the new, campy FX miniseries "Feud: Bette and Joan," starring Jessica Lange as vitriolic Crawford and Susan Sarandon as steely Davis during filming of the classic thriller "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"
RadarOnline.com has uncovered the shocking REAL story behind the alleged feud — in which publicity flacks ginned up attention leading up to the release of the 1962 macabre drama starring the two Oscar winners.
"It's a great story — two middle-aged has-beens making life miserable for the other as they film a psycho thriller," a Tinseltown insider reveals to Radar. "Too bad it never happened! It just made more sense to make it seem like Bette and Joan were at each other's throats given their legendary acting careers."
MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer infamously released Joan in 1943 after she earned the notorious distinction of "box-office poison."
But her sagging career rebounded quickly at Warner Brothers, climaxing with her Academy Award victory in 1946 for her grim portrayal of "Mildred Pierce."
Bette, who had been nominated for 11 Oscars, racked up two trophies early in her career for "Dangerous" and "Jezebel." But at 53, her glory days had long been behind her when she signed up for "Baby Jane."
Back in the 1940s, the actresses became close pals brought together by — of all things — knitting!
"They had lots in common and both loved to knit on the set between scenes," dishes an insider. "I wouldn't be surprised if Joan lent Bette some yarn."
Many moviegoers erroneously assumed the film's plot of two lonely, faded film stars inhabiting a decrepit mansion where powder-faced Bette torments handicapped Joan was based on a true story!
The reports of Bette kicking Joan for real while filming a vicious fight scene and Joan filling her pockets with rocks as Bette dragged her across the floor are the stuff of Hollywood legend, but hardly rooted in reality.
"The truth is they both were consummate professionals and greeted each other with a friendly smile every day," says a studio source. "Their chairs were placed right next to each other. They liked to sit, smoke cigarettes and reminisce about Hollywood's golden days."
Producers didn't know what to expect of the odd film directed by a relatively unknown Robert Aldrich. But upon its release, "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" was a massive box-office hit, recouping its $1 million budget quickly before turning a huge profit!
It also received considerable critical acclaim, including an Oscar nomination for Davis — her last — and four others, including one for supporting actor Victor Buono. Both Bette and Joan received BAFTA nominations in the best-actress category. Although the stars' so-called rivalry undeniably helped boost the movie's bottom line, it also gave birth to one of Hollywood's biggest lies, summed up by one Tinseltown insider, who says,
"The feud was a Hollywood stunt and made up to sell the picture."
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