Bette Davis hated Joan Crawford

Movie treasure - Disassembling the divas in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane"

  • In "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" from 1962 two dissimilar sisters fight each other.
  • The leading actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford hated each other.
  • The film was nominated for five Academy Awards.

The psychological drama about two former screen stars almost failed due to funding. When director Robert Aldrich knocked on the big Hollywood studios with the script, they slammed the door in his face. The succinct comment by Warner boss Jack L. Warner: "Who wants to see a film with two old boxes dismantled?".

Aldrich's sense of success

But Robert Aldrich persevered, founded his own production company and took all the risk himself.

The risk paid off. "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" was a great success in 1962 and was the highlight of Robert Aldrich's career.

The thriller about the two sisters Blanche and Jane, who fell apart all their lives and yet remained dependent on each other, was nominated for five Oscars and finally won the award for the best costumes in a black and white film.

Arguing isn't just on the screen

The collaboration between the leading actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, both big names in Hollywood, made headlines during the filming. The stars harmonized on celluloid, but not on the set. They had a real feud behind the scenes. “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane” was their first collaboration, but the argument had started years earlier.

The media called the legendary argument between the two women a "catfight". The hostility began in the 1930s. It was supposed to be about a man.

As a result, the two superstars publicly dubbed themselves unflattering as a "hollow mannequin" (Davis about Crawford) or as a "person who has never had a happy day or a happy night" (Crawford about Davis).

Eternal quarrel

Bette Davis was nominated for an Oscar for her work in Baby Jane, Joan Crawford was not; a point for Davis in the constant jealousy drama between the two.

In terms of longevity on the screen, Bette Davis also had the edge in the end. She has been making films since 1931, and in 1989 the horror comedy "Dance of the Witches" ended her long career in cinema. She died that same year.

Joan Crawford has made 80 films in more than 40 years. But at the end of her career she also played mainly in trashy horror flicks. A role that began with "Baby Jane".

A bad mother?

But Crawford was ahead of her eternal competitor, Bette Davis. She made headlines even after her death in 1977: her adopted daughter Christina Crawford published a scandalous book in 1982 with the title "Mummy Dearest".

In the work she describes Joan Crawford as a despotic mother, who played the loving mother in public, but behind a closed front door was a wicked mother who subjected her four adopted children to constant martyrdom.

"What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" was filmed again almost 30 years later with a high-class cast. Actual sisters Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave starred in the TV remake.

For the British sisters, the part of Blanche and Jane was one of many roles. Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, on the other hand, were measured by it until they retired.