The stories behind the biggest Oscar scandals and Hollywood fights
The grande dame of Hollywood feuds, the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford has sparked legions of backstage camp stories, a litany of bitchy liners, and her own TV miniseries starring Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon.
The feud is believed to have started over actor Franchot Tone, who Davis allegedly fell madly in love with on the set of Dangerous in 1935. Unfortunately, Tone only had eyes for Crawford, especially after accepting an invitation to her house and found that she was completely waiting for him. They married soon after.
In the meantime, the tabloids have played on the duo’s rivalry, especially when they both started competing for the same roles at Warner Bros. Pictures. The couple would continue to work together on the cult classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? On set, Davis reportedly kicked Crawford in the head, while Crawford stuffed rocks into his clothes to make it harder for Davis to drag his limp body during filming.
In 1962, Davis was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for her work in the film, devastating a snubbed Crawford. But, in revenge, Crawford reached out to all of the other Best Actress nominees, volunteering to receive the award on their behalf if they couldn’t attend the ceremony. Hilariously, an absent Anne Bancroft ended up winning the Oscar, with Crawford stepping onto the podium to pick it up in her place.
The couple would be working almost again, on the Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte horror image, with Davis setting up a Coca-Cola vending machine on set to infuriate Crawford, who was married to the CEO of Pepsi at the time. Crawford then dropped out of production due to health issues and was replaced by Olivia de Havilland. Davis didn’t quite believe his illness, however, and hired a private eye to follow Crawford through the streets of Los Angeles.
In the end, it was Davis who had the final say in the quarrel, saying upon hearing that Crawford was dead: “You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good. Joan Crawford is dead. Good.”