The One Thing Bette Davis Said She'd "Never Forgive" Joan Crawford For
The two actors had one of the most notorious and vicious Hollywood feuds.
They had one of the most scandalous and long-lasting feuds in Hollywood history, but throughout Bette Davis and Joan Crawford's history, there was just one thing that Davis said she'd "never forgive" her nemesis and one-time co-star. It didn't have to do with a role or one of their projects outshining the other's. Instead, it had to do with a man.
According to Harper's Bazaar, Davis and Crawford's feud can be traced back to 1933 when Davis' first film for which she received top billing came out. The same day the movie, Ex-Lady, was being released, news of Crawford's divorce from her first husband, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., was announced, which overshadowed Davis' star turn in the press.
From there, the feud launched. Over the years, it included everything from Davis playing a character inspired by Crawford in The Star to the two terrorizing each other on the set of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. Read on to find out about the incident that made Davis decide she'd never forgive Crawford.
Davis fell for a co-star.
In 1935, Davis starred in the film Dangerous alongside actor Franchot Tone. For her role, Davis won her first Academy Award for Best Actress. While shooting the movie, Davis fell for Tone.
"I fell in love with Franchot, professionally and privately," Davis said in a 1987 interview with Michael Thornton, according to the Daily Mail. "Everything about him reflected his elegance, from his name to his manners." (Crawford had died ten years prior to the interview, in 1977.)
But it was Crawford who married Tone.
During the filming of Dangerous, Tone became engaged to Crawford, and they got married in 1935. The two had also acted alongside each other previously.
"I have never forgiven her for that and never will," Davis told Thornton of the situation. She also reportedly said, "She took him from me. She did it coldly, deliberately, and with complete ruthlessness."
Still, Davis admitted that Tone had feelings for Crawford, not her. "He was madly in love with her," Davis said, according to Thornton. "They met each day for lunch… he would return to the set, his face covered in lipstick. He was honored this great star was in love with him. I was jealous, of course."
Crawford reportedly taunted Davis about it.
Crawford and Davis were say to have exchanged some cutting remarks during their feud, including about their love triangle. Crawford reportedly once said that Tone "thought Bette was a good actress, but he never thought of her as a woman."
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Tone was involved in another major feud moment.
At the 1936 Academy Awards, Davis was nominated for her role in Dangerous. But, even though she was up for the award, she wore a casual dress that had been an old costume. According to Harper's Bazaar, this was because, for one, she didn't think she would win, and also, because she hadn't even wanted to go but was required to by studio executive Jack Warner.
Davis ended up winning the award. According to the book Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine (via the New York Post), when Davis was announced as the winner, Tone "leapt to his feet as Bette passed by and embraced her." Crawford could only bring herself to sarcastically say, "Dear Bette! What a lovely frock!"
Tone and Crawford were married for four years until 1939. She went on to marry two more times. Like Crawford, Davis was also married four times total.