Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Dueling Divas Blogathon: Just A Friendly Competition?

Lara at Backlots is hosting the very clever Blogathon, Dueling Divas from Dec. 20th-23rd so I hope everyone will visit her blog for links to all of those participating.  Here is my contribution. Thanks Lara!

With so many stories about Joan Crawford and Bette Davis's long standing feud I thought it would be fun to poke a bit of fun at it, perhaps get to the bottom of it or even get those two stirred up again for no reason.
Are you ready to get this resolved Bette?

Not especially Joan, but I'll go along with it as long as you play fair and stay on your side of the room!

Bette: How far back are we willing to go to determine that I'm the bigger and better Diva? I was walking and talking quite clearly at 18 months of age!

Joan: I leaped out of the womb tap dancing so I guess that's settled!

Okay ladies, let's move ahead to the beginning of your careers otherwise we'll be here for days. 

Bette: Before we go to Hollywood I would like to add that I actually kept my real name which is Ruth Elizabeth Davis on my birth certificate. Bette is short for Elizabeth! What say you Lucille Fay Le Sueur? I won't hit below the belt and bring up that you shaved two years off of your age when you got to Hollywood.

Joan: Well, I'm special enough that Louis B. Mayer ran a contest in fan magazines to choose my stage name! Joan Crawford was a special gift to me and you can't take that away.

Bette: Mayer thought your name sounded like Le Sewer so don't forget to include that! 

Can we get into your films, early career so we can get to the bottom of things?

Joan: I was dancing and singing on Broadway by the time I was 18.  I had amazing musicality unlike Bette who looked like a radish in a back brace after a bottle of gin while trying to dance!

Bette: I made my way to Broadway at 19! Of course I was off finishing my education before that time. 

Joan: My education came from the real world! And I remember your first Broadway performance, specifically that George Cukor wasn't all that impressed. Perhaps a little more ballet and less Charles Dickens would have been helpful to you but I'm not judging!

Bette: Oh, Joan! I could bring up the time you starred in "nude films" early on which there's proof of all over the interwebs but I'm a lady. Of course I would never look at something that distasteful and crude but I have heard that you were shall we say "Rubenesque" in your early days.  Perhaps you should have tried some of those 'ice treatments' on your derriere! 

Joan: I thought this conversation was about Divas and not showing what an old prude you are? And by the way, those nude photos are considered art and quite valuable now so I hear. Eat your heart out Bette!

Bette: I came to Hollywood in 1930 for a screen test for Universal Studios where I was given a part in my first film "The Bad Sister" This led to a long contract with the studio. 

Joan: Bette forgot to add that she failed her first screen test but moving along! I arrived in Hollywood at the end of 1924 where I was offered a contract by MGM. My first film there was "Pretty Ladies"  And might I add that I was selected as a WAMPAS Baby in 1925. 

Bette: Good for you Joan! It's fascinating that MGM would choose 30 year old 'babies'.

Joan: I was NOT 30! I was uhmmmm 20 or 22. With a wonderful figure that I worked tirelessly at maintaining. We all can't have a figure of a pubescent boy and a constant frown that resembles a kid sucking on limes. 

Bette: Oh, really? Weren't you a bleach blonde at one time?  You just couldn't stand that I have naturally blonde locks that shine like a ray of light! And I hear that you started that whole shoulder pad trend to draw attention away from your growing hips and turkey neck. 

Joan: Shoulder pads were fabulous and they even came back again in the 80's! A trend I started and I looked gorgeous in. What fashion trend did you ever start?

Bette: I didn't need to start a trend! I have Bette Davis eyes in case you haven't heard...Don't you ever listen to the radio?  Oh, silly me, of course you do! You listen for Pepsi Cola ads!  I'm a Coca Cola fan myself.  "Clink" There goes another Pepsi ad...drop another nickel into Joan's coin purse!

Okay, perhaps we could retract the claws a bit and focus on your careers, why you were feuding. 

Joan: Our feud started over a man of course. My man! I was quietly engaged to the delightful Franchot Tone and he was loaned out to Universal to star in a film with our little wallflower Bette. Oh, he felt sorry for her as she made her advances but when we realized that she had fallen head over heels in love with Franchot, we had to tell her that he was taken, betrothed to me!  Of course Bette was embarrassed, humiliated. This started our first feud but it certainly wasn't because of me.  

Bette: First of all, I'm impressed that Joan can keep track of all of her many husbands and love affairs. Secondly, I was just a girl, an innocent girl when I worked with Franchot in "Dangerous".  Any romantic advances were not started by me!

Joan: If by innocent you mean she was married to her first of four husbands at the time. We all know that Bette was known for falling in love with her co-stars. I mean really Bette!  There was a lot more going on during "All About Eve" than trying to get poor Ann Baxter to stand in bad lighting and all of the distractions to forget her lines.  How is that delightful Gary Merrill anyway?

Bette: Joan was married four times as well! It would have been double that if a few of her lovers hadn't managed to escape. From what I hear it wasn't just those poor children that were strapped down and locked in at night! Oh, have I gone too far?

This is getting a bit uncomfortable! Let's talk about your many awards ladies. You're both accomplished stars with a long line of successful films on your resume.

Bette: I was nominated for an Academy Award five years in a row! 1939-1943. A wonderful honor and a tie for most consecutive Oscar nods, which I share with the lovely Greer Garson.  I was nominated for 10 Oscars during my career and I won two! Sure you've heard of the little films titled "Dangerous" AND "Jezebel" Joan.  Oscar also got it's name because of me! Oscar is my first husbands middle name.  

Joan: Of course Oscar got it's name from Harmon Nelson. Both cold an sterile! I won an Oscar for "Mildred Pierce". At least it was for a role where I wasn't playing a desperate floozy or trying to sleep with my co-star!

Bette: That's rich Joan! Should we talk about your being mentioned as 'the other woman' during two Hollywood divorces? Home wrecker!

Joan: Only if we can call up Miriam Hopkins and ask her how it felt when you were sleeping with and trying to steal her husband.

Let's talk about the 1963 Academy Awards. What happened there that stirred up your long running feud?  

Bette: Joan made such a spectacle of herself that year! It all started while we were filming "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" the previous year if you want to know the truth. Joan was impossible to work with. Always late, often sick, throwing her weight around!  She literally threw her weight around! Adding rocks to her pockets to make it hard on me to drag her old body around was just juvenile behavior.  And the scene she made over not being nominated for Baby Jane...Openly campaigning for Ann Bancroft just to hurt my chances to win again. 

Joan: Bette, always so innocent! Agging the producer of Baby Jane on to put Coca Cola machines in certain scenes just to get back at me for my entrepreneurial successes.  I can't help that Ann Bancroft couldn't attend the Academy Awards in 1963! She asked me to accept the award for her and I did. Of course I knew she would win that year.  Who in the world would vote for an aging actress who ran around dressed like a 5 year old lunatic just to find work?  You were an absolute fright in Baby Jane and if I had bigger pockets I would have loaded them with bowling balls!

Bette: If I was such a nightmare to work with then why did you throw such a fit when you were replaced with the lovely Olivia de Havilland for "Hush, Hush....Sweet Charlotte"?

Joan: I had digestive troubles during that time, truly ill and I was unfairly mistreated by you and the studio! It's obvious that our feud was always sparked back up by you Bette.

Well ladies, I don't know that we've actually resolved anything but it's certainly been entertaining to have you both back and speaking again.  Is there any chance that we can call a truce since it's the holidays?

Bette: Well, Joan always did love the holidays! The one time of the year when she dragged her children out, threw them in their fancy, matching clothes for their obligatory family photo ops. 

Joan: My children were loved dearly and they never wanted for a thing! I would be happy to call a truce, to show Bette that I've always been the bigger person.  Merry Christmas Bette!

Bette: Merry Christmas Mommy Deare.. I mean Joan!  You really were an icon and a beautiful woman. 

Joan: Thank you Bette! You were quite talented and fabulous yourself. Now go wrap yourself in tinsel and a giant bow!

Thank you everyone for joining me and don't forget to read the other Blogathon posts which can be found via Backlots blog.  Also, for the record, I adore Bette and Joan equally. I'll be doing full bio's on both stars in the future.

I'll see you back here for my Christmas post.


  1. I've missed your marvelous wit. Hopefully you aren't scarred from the claws on these women. You need more photos of them smiling through clenched teeth :)

  2. YAY, BETTE AND JOAN! I had so much fun reading this post, and listening to these two ladies go at it once again. Thanks for this post, I'll link it up to the site right now!

  3. @CFB,
    Thanks so much! That means a lot. If you've missed my snark, there's a lot in my Milliner's Invade Hollywood posts as well.
    So good to see you back!

    I'm so glad to have participated in your Blogathon! I can't wait to read the other contributions. Glad you enjoyed my pseudo conversation between our two lovable Divas.

  4. Another great post that deftly blends humor and Hollywood history! Nice touch, with the soda debacle. I recently learned that Crawford originally hawked RC Cola before switching to Pepsi (hmmm....).

    Happy Holidays!

  5. Barry,
    Thanks so much for the compliment! I have to admit that it was fun to poke fun at these two fascinating Divas! I do remember seeing early ads of Joan hawking for RC...she did ads for several companies during the 40's-50's. UGH! RC cola is just awful!

    Happy Holidays to you and your family too.

  6. I really like the imagination that you've put into this post Page.
    I'm a relative newcomer to classic movies but I'm certainly intrigued by Bette and Joan and their feud and I'll be back to read their bio's when you post them.

  7. Ouch! I think I got scratched in the crossfire! Keeps those 2 cats in their corners!

  8. Paul S.
    I'm glad you enjoyed the post on the Dueling Joan and Bette! Please come back and comment often.

    Leave it to those two to stir things up for the holidays! MEOWWWWW

    Happy Holidays to you both!

  9. My comment will have to be short and sweet, Page -- that is all I am allowed right now! You started out funny: "Bette: How far back are we willing to go to determine that I'm the bigger and better Diva? I was walking and talking quite clearly at 18 months of age!
    Joan: I leaped out of the womb tap dancing so I guess that's settled!" And it was funnier as it went on! Another good one, lady!

  10. My money is on Joan in the 3rd round! Bette could never take a punch.

  11. HAHAHA, sooooo funny, Page!! I avidly read it, so well written, so witty! Congrats :)