No More !
BY Jeremy Kinser
November 11 2010 6:30 PM ET
Another rumor you dispel is that Joan and Bette Davis feuded and had a contentious relationship during the filming of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Joan and Bette were both quite clear that during the production the publicist for [director Robert] Aldrich said to them that even before the film’s release there would be a lot of free publicity if the two of them were presented as being at each other’s throats. They both said they could do this for the movie, but they weren’t going to give interviews that said that or pose for photos suggesting that. In fact, if you look at stills from the set, they’re either going over the script or having a laugh or discussing something serious with Aldrich. Of course, the imagined feud made for good publicity. The fact is they didn’t become good friends, but they weren’t mortal enemies. They would never say or do anything publicly to embarrass themselves, such as appearing jealous.
There’s the often repeated story that Crawford was jealous that Davis received an Oscar nomination while she didn’t, so she arranged to accept the Best Actress award if someone else won. You have her rather magnanimously hoping that Davis would win.
Yes, Joan was convinced that Davis would not only be nominated but would win. She was disappointed that she didn’t, but she couldn’t say that publicly as an Academy member. Crawford realized she had the less showy role in that film.
Why do you think so many gay men are drawn to Crawford?
I think it’s because of the courage, strength, and ingenuity of her characters. In some unconscious way that speaks to anyone in a minority, even an 11-year old who didn’t know he was gay at that time. I think it’s also due to the way she blurred gender differentiations. She made us reconsider what it meant to be a woman in her movies and by implication it made us reconsider what it meant to be a man