and Joan Crawford
could show today’s feuding stars a thing or two about grudges! Younger celebs use social media, but the two screen sirens squared off the old-fashioned way — face to iconic face. And in one memorable case, foot to head! The battle between the Hollywood legends finally boiled over when Bette famously sent Joan to the hospital while shooting the 1962 classic “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” But their bitter battling actually went back for years!
Photo credit: Files/Getty Images
During the filming of “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” — the only movie the two actresses made together — Bette was supposed to simulate violence as she abused Joan’s character. But Bette's foot connected with Joan’s head in a way that produced a three-stitch gash and an egg-sized lump! Joan then got even by secretly wearing a weight belt for a scene where Bette, who had back problems, pulls her out of bed.
Joan made sure to keep flubbing her lines while shooting the scenes, which resulted in numerous takes and a crippling backache for Bette. But the fireworks between the Tinseltown stars originally ignited in 1935 during the filming of the melodrama “Dangerous.” Lead actress Bette fell madly in love with her tall, dark and handsome co-star Franchot Tone. Joan, however, already had her claws sunk into him — and the two were engaged before the film wrapped, infuriating Bette.
“She took him from me,” Bette fumed decades later. “She did it coldly, deliberately and with complete ruthlessness. I have never forgiven her for that, and never will!” The feud was fueled by their white-hot careers, as both won Best Actress Oscars. But theatrically-trained Bette always looked down on sexpot Joan as a shallow “glamour puss” who got by on her looks — and promiscuity!
“She slept with every male star at MGM, except Lassie,” Bette quipped about her rival. Actually, notoriously bisexual Joan also racked up an impressive list of female lovers, including Hollywood royalty like Greta Garbo
, Marlene Dietrich
, Barbara Stanwyck
and Marilyn Monroe
. And her unrequited lust for Bette may have contributed to the grudge!
“Franchot isn’t interested in Bette, but I wouldn’t mind giving her a poke if I was in the right mood,” Joan once admitted. In the 1940s, the stars had adjoining dressing rooms at Warner Bros. and competed for the same parts. When Bette passed up the lead in “Mildred Pierce,” Joan took the role and won an Oscar — turning up the heat on their grudge.
The passionate hatred still raged more than 15 years later, when Bette was told that producer-director Robert Aldrich wanted to pair her with Joan in “Baby Jane.” Bette sniped: “I wouldn’t p*** on Joan Crawford if she was on fire.” But she was talked into making the surprise hit, with Bette and Joan's bad behavior creating one of Hollywood's most enduring legends!