Fact-Checking Feud: Bette and Joan Episode 7: The Real Reason Joan Crawford Was Hospitalized (and Recast)

Production on Hush...Hush,Sweet Charlotte really was as much of a nightmare as seen in the FX hit's April 16 episode

By Tierney Bricker Apr 17, 2017 3:00 AMTags
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Feud: Bette and Joan has reached its boiling point...sending one of its leading ladies into the hospital. 

"Abandoned!" continued to tell the tale of Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford's (Jessica Lange) failed attempt at working together again on Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte, and believe us when you say you can't make this stuff up. We know, because we fact-checked all the hospital visits, on-set meltdowns, marriages and shocking recasting that went down in the April 16 episode, and it's pretty accurate, making the drama all the more juicy. 

But there were a few falsities in the outing, so we're sorting fact vs. fiction...

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FACT: When Bette asked "How did she do it?" of Joan being able to perform her first scene in a single take, that wasn't made up, she really did say that. The story goes that publicist Harry Mines later found Bette practicing Joan's scene, saying, "My God! I've been here all evening long with a pair of dark glasses and some luggage and I'm imagining getting out of a cab and trying to do that whole business in one gesture. How did she do it?"

FICTION: Though it's mentioned in the episode that Bette is an associate producer on Charlotte, there's no confirmation anywhere that she actually had that title. She did ask for equal pay as director Bob Aldrich (Alfred Molina).

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FACT: On June 12, the crew did forget about Joan in her trailer, where she woke up to find it was dark out. The crew had packed up and left her with no way back to her motel room.

FACT: The next day, Joan checked herself into Cedars-Sinai Hospital after returning to Los Angeles. She stayed in the hospital for five weeks, while her stand-in was used to film any scenes they could. She did then suggest changes to the script, including more beaus for her character, Miriam, as well as a ball to welcome back Miriam to the mansion.


FACT: B.D. Davis (Kiernan Shipka) and Jeremy, 29, did get married when she was only 16 in October 1963. They met when Bette brought B.D. to the Cannes Film Festival with her, and said that decision was "one of the greatest mistakes in my life" because of the union. (They are still married to this day.) 

FACT: Joan did return to the set, receiving applause from the crew and a single red rose from Bette.  But after more attempted script revisions from Bette, she is readmitted into the hospital two days later.

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FACT: While it plays out much quicker on the show, Joan did check in and out of the hospital, with production eventually having to shut down completely. Joan was then asked to submit to an independent medical test after being told she needed to work longer days or faced replacement or the film would be canceled.  It was found that she had a slight cold, but nothing too serious.

FACT: After production was shut down indefinitely on August 4, the mission to recast Joan was on, with both Loretta Young and Barbara Stanwyck approached and both turning down the opportunity, along with Vivian Leigh and Katherine Hepburn

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FACT: Bette is the one who suggested Olivia de Havilland (Catherine Zeta-Jones) for the role, who did turn it down at first, with Bob spending four days getting to her remote resort in Switzerland to convince her to take the role. "I don't believe half of the things I said myself; but I knew there was no other place to go," he later recalled. "If I came back without de Havilland, we wouldn't have a picture, because we had gone through all the other people that [20th Century] Fox would live with.'"

FACT: Joan learned of Olivia's casting through the press.

FICTION: Mamacita (Jackie Hoffman) left Joan in the hospital after the distraught actress throws a vase of flowers at her head, but the real-life Mamacita worked with Joan for nearly 14 years, before going back to Germany in the ‘70s.

FACT: As a final dig to Joan, who was the spokesperson for Pepsi-Cola, Bob had the machine she installed on set replaced with a Coca-Cola machine.

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