Hollywood Star Wars-- Joan Crawford and Bette Davis

Bette DavisJoan Crawford.

In the 40s, they were among the biggest box office stars.  Their names were above the title on film and movie marquees.  All their fans had to hear was that a new Davis or Crawford movie was coming out and they’d line up.  The actresses carried more than their share of their films.   Comedy, drama, melodrama, historical, even some musicals.  They did it all.

And according to many sources, they didn’t like each other very much.

There are many theories of why.  Some say it was competition over actor Franchot Tone.  Some say Crawford was insecure about her own talent when compared with Davis’s.  Others say Davis was jealous of Crawford’s beauty and glamour.  Maybe they were egged on by gossip columnists and studio bosses.

The rivalry between the two actresses came to a head while they were making the horror film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?  Both Crawford and Davis were at a point in their careers where roles in movies were hard to find.  Both were considered past the age of being the lead in any film.  Crawford went looking for her own material, found the novel, and knew it would be a great movie for herself and Davis.  And she was right.
The animosity between Davis and Crawford played out onscreen, with each giving great performances.  But Davis’s nomination for an Academy Award – and no nomination for Crawford -- caused an even bigger rift.  The two never settled their differences and their feud became Hollywood legend.

In the new TV series Feud, Ryan Murphy explores the contentious relationship between Crawford and Davis.  Starring Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis, the show follows the making of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and its aftermath.  The series also gives a harsh look at the treatment of actresses in an industry that slights or ignores them as they get older.  Olivia de Havilland and Joan Blondell are also portrayed in the series – by Catherine Zeta Jones and Kathy Bates, respectively – giving their take on the rivalry between their friends.

If you are watching Feud, you might like to see what made these actresses stars.  Maybe you’re already a fan and would like to see their best movies again.  If so, check out the lists below for some great entertainment.


Joan Crawford

The Best of Everything
The Damned Don’t Cry
Grand Hotel
Mildred Pierce
– Crawford’s Academy Award winning movie
The Women


Bette Davis

All About Eve
Dark Victory
Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte
– One of the movies for which Davis won Best Actress Oscar
The Letter
The Man Who Came to Dinner
Now, Voyager


Olivia de Havilland

The Adventures of Robin Hood
Captain Blood
Dodge City
Gone with the Wind
The Heiress
Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte
The Snake Pit


Joan Blondell

Bullets or Ballots
Desk Set
Footlight Parade
Gold Diggers of 1933
Here Come the Brides (TV series)
Topper Returns