And the Oscar goes to...

In its fifth episode, Feud: Bette and Joan reached the climax of  the bitter rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, recreating the infamous 1963 Academy Awards for viewers in "And the Winner Is…(The Oscars of 1963)."

In the episode, Joan (Jessica Lange) launches an intense campaign to make sure Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) doesn't win the Best Actress award for their film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? after she was snubbed. And the fallout is epic. But was all of it really true? We're fact-checking  the episode to separate the truth from fiction...

FACT: Olivia de Havilland (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) did in fact have quite the rivalry of her going with her sister, fellow actress Joan Fontaine. One fight reportedly left Joan with a broken collarbone, which is briefly mentioned in the episode, and Olivia once published a fake will in her high school newspaper, writing, "I bequeath to my sister the ability to win boys' hearts, which she does not have at present." The sisters' feud is one of Hollywood's most infamous rivalries, with Joan even taking her stepfather's surname to avoid association with Olivia. 

FICTION: There's no record of Joan asking the Academy president Wendell Corey to present an award at the Oscars, along with making demands for hair, make-up and car service. However, Joan did co-star with Wendell in 1950's Harriet Craig.

WHO KNOWS: While Joan has denied ever campaigning against her co-star,  saying she even predicted her nomination and potential win, Bette believed otherwise.

"Joan did everything she could possibly think of to keep me from winning," she said.  "She campaigned openly in New York, contacting all the Oscar® nominees who were in plays in New York that year. She offered to accept their Oscars® if they won and were unable to attend the ceremony. She also contacted all the members of the Academy who lived in New York, requesting that they vote for one of the nominees then on Broadway. Leaving aside the fact that I felt I deserved to win, the rule of thumb was that an Oscar® winner usually added at least a million dollars to the box office receipts of a film. Since Joan and I each had a percentage of the movie, how Medean, how foolish she was to work against my winning."

WHO KNOWS: While we see Joan asking some of the other nominees in Bette's category if she could accept the award on their behalf, there's no concrete proof she did (but we wouldn't be too surprised, if we're being honest). After accepting on behalf of Anne Bancroft, who won for her work in The Miracle Worker and did originally want her co-star Patty Duke to accept for her but was told it was against academy rules, Joan later presented the award to her on stage at her Broadway show, Mother Courage.

"I almost dropped dead when I didn't win," Bette later told The Los Angeles Times, and went into greater detail about the moment in her 1987 memoir.  "That year, each nominee sat in a separate dressing room backstage, equipped with a TV monitor...When Anne Bancroft's name was announced, I am sure I turned white. Moments later, Crawford floated down the hall, past my door. I will never forget the look she gave me. It was triumphant. The look clearly said, ‘you didn't win and I am elated!'"

Feud: Bette and Joan


FACT: Bette had rubbed some of the gold off of one of her two Oscar statues, as Ryan Murphy told Vanity Fair he saw it for himself with he visited her Los Angeles home when he was a journalist.

"I remember she had a huge painting that a fan had done of her in Jezebel," he recalled of their 1989 interview. "I noticed her Oscar and asked her if the gold plating fell off. She said, ‘This is why.'"

FACT: While it was Anne Bancroft who said to Joan in the episode that Bette may have had the "flashier" role in Baby Jane? but Joan's performance was stronger, Joan seemed to have felt the same way. "Sure, she stole most of my big scenes, but the funny thing is, when I see it again, that she stole them because she looked like a parody of herself and I still looked something like a star," she said in Conversations With Joan Crawford. "I think she tried too hard, but what the hell."

Feud: Bette and Joan airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on FX.

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