by Tierney Bricker | Sun., Mar. 19, 2017 8:00 PM
And just like that, production on Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? has wrapped.
Only three episodes into Feud: Bette and Joan and viewers have already made it through the filming of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford's iconic horror film. But that's just the beginning of the story...and their rivalry.
In the FX anthology hit's March 19 episode, viewers got insight into Bette (Susan Sarandon) and Joan's (Jessica Lange) differing mothering techniques, complicated relationships with their daughters, and saw their rivalry take a physical turn. But was all of it true? Let's separate truth from fiction in "Mommie Dearest"...
FACT AND FICTION: According to B.D. Hyman's (Kiernan Shipka) tell-all, Mother's Keeper, Joan did warn her to stay away from her twin daughters, Cathy and Cindy, during filming. However, Joan may have actually been annoyed with B.D.'s lack of acting talent.
FACT AND FICTION: B.D., Bette's daughter, was eventually cast in the movie as the neighbor girl, but according to Bette, she was always supportive of the idea. "I thought it would be fun for her to see in later years...there was no thought of a career. B.D. never wanted to be an actress and I was delighted."
FACT: Joan had quite the tumultuous relationship with her oldest daughter, Christina, with Joan signing the note "Mommie Dearest" as a nod to Christina's infamous tell-all (and later cult-classic movie, starring Faye Dunaway) called Mommie Dearest, which she published in 1978, just after her mother's death. In it, she wrote about alleged psychological and physical childhood abuse, but her sisters would later deny her claims.
While they acknowledged Joan was firm, but denied she was ever abusive. In the Now The Girl Next Door biography, Cathy was quoted as saying, "Our Mommie was the best mother anyone ever had."
FICTION: During filming, it seems Joan, not Bette, was the star to get along with their co-star, Victor Buono, though Bette later apologized to him for any rudeness. "She was a trouper, a real professional," Buono said of Joan.
FACT: In a bonding moment, both women open up about their childhoods. Joan revealed she grew up around nuns, which is true as she went to St. Agnes, a catholic school where she worked in order to stay at the school when her mother couldn't afford the tuition. (Though there's no credible reporting on whether or not her step-father sexually abused her.)
As for Bette's story, she did Spartan boarding school called Crestalban in the Berkshires after her father left her mother. She also did lose virginity on her honeymoon, at age 26. "It was hell waiting!" she said of losing her virginity to her first husband.
FACT: There is really a letter floating around, which is allegedly written by Joan to director Bob Aldrich (Alfred Molina) complaining about Bette's body odor, which Hedda Hopper (Judy Davis) reports in the episode. "It is quite distracting," Joan wrote. "I have found myself gagging on several occasions."
FACT: Bette was snubbed at the 1950 Oscars, for arguably her best role in All About Eve, because her co-star Anne Baxter also wanted to be submitted in the lead actress category (two other actresses from the film were already in the supporting category). Judy Holliday ended up winning, with many considering it one of the biggest upsets in Oscars history.
FACT AND FICTION: As juicy as the stories are, there is no credible reporting that can confirm Bette kicked Joan in the head during a scene or that Joan wore weights under her costume(or rocks in her pockets) to make the scenes where Bette is carrying her more difficult.
In fact, Joan once denied it. "Weights! And have Bette tell everyone I was as heavy as an elephant. Absolutely not," she said, according to Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography. "I may not have made it as easy for her to lift me out of the bed as I could have, at least at first, but when you're a pro you get over any animosity you may feel and help your fellow player out. It simply didn't happen."
FACT: Bette did complain about Joan wearing "falsies" during the beach shoot, saying, "In the famous scene in which she lay on the beach, Joan wore the largest ones. Let's face it, when a woman lies on her back, I don't care how well-endowed she is, her bosoms do not stand straight up. And Blanche had supposedly wasted away fo twenty years. The scene called for me to fall on top of her. I had the breath almost knocked out of me. It was like falling on two footballs!"
FACT: According to Bette, the beach scenes were difficult to shoot because of Joan's drinking. "The final scene in Baby Jane was supposed to be filmed on the beach in Santa Monica," Bette said. "But Joan could not stand the heat of the sun at the beach. Alcohol in the body exposed to heat makes one perspire freely." It eventually had to be filmed on a sound stage.
Feud: Bette and Joan airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on FX.
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