The Original Alternative Facts (The TV Junkie)

Shown from left: Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis in Ryan Murphy's Feud

THE TV JUNKIE                             The TV Junkie is back— Head for the Hills!                                              “But ya are, Blanche, ya are!”    After taking a few months off to bask in the sun of my new abode in South Florida, I simply had to address some issues with a certain TV show and you know me, when there’s a conflagration, I can’t stay silent. Actually, even when there’s no conflagration, I have to throw in my two cents worth.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) Directed by Robert Aldrich Shown from left: Bette Davis (as Baby Jane Hudson), Joan Crawford ©Warner Bros. Pictures

Well, kids, this is a biggie. I’m sure most of you have been watching Ryan Murphy’s brilliant series on FX, “Feud,” about the filming of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? with spectacular performances by Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford, not to mention my friend Jackie Hoffman– who, if she doesn’t win an Emmy for this one, there is no God. Much has been said about the series, all good, or maybe great, but there have been some questions about the accuracy of some of the aspects that were portrayed.

For example, director Robert Aldrich has been quoted as saying that, “the two desperately needed a hit and thus, were quite well-behaved on set.” You’d never know it to watch their antics while filming in “Feud.” It is true that Davis sort of kicked Crawford when she was lying on the floor and, to retaliate, Crawford kind of did wear weights around her waist to aggravate Davis’ bad back, which left Davis screaming in pain.

Shown from left: Bette Davis, Jack L. Warner and Joan Crawford
Billy Rose Theatre Collection, circa 1960
Photo courtesy of The New York Public Library, Digital Collection

The biggest controversy in the series is the quote that Davis supposedly gave to the Associated Press upon hearing of Joan’s death, the rather nasty “You should never say bad things about the dead, only good. Joan Crawford is dead. Good.” I’ve heard from several people that Davis never said those words and I seem to remember the wonderful female impersonator – he hated the words “drag queen” – extraordinaire, Charles Pierce use that line in his Bette Davis show.

After much digging, I finally found the truth via the ever brilliant and oh, so witty, Bruce Vilanch. According to Bruce, Davis told him that she said it not about Joan Crawford, but Miriam Hopkins, with whom she shared the screen in several films such as Old Acquaintance. If you think the feud between Crawford and Davis was intense, check out these dueling divas. Vilanch told me, “It made a better story with Crawford, but she didn’t dislike her the way she did Hopkins. She may have kicked her (Crawford) with a little too much relish. The story (of the comment) had been going around for years, way before Crawford died, with various bodies.”

Shown from left: Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins in Old Acquaintance

To Ryan’s credit, along with writers Michael Zam and my old pal Jaffe Cohen, both actresses were written less as caricatures and more as the strong independent women they were. If you haven’t yet watched “Feud,” what the hell are you waiting for?

Until next time…

About The TV Junkie 2 Articles
“The TV Junkie” was preceded in her family by a large mahogany cabinet that housed a small screen with a large speaker below. Thus began her love affair with the older sibling in the living room. Theirs was a tenuous relationship, prone to mishaps (forgetting to use the special “screen” for “Winky Dink”), joyous events (“Julie & Carol at Carnegie Hall”), sad moments (Clarabelle saying goodbye to the Peanut Gallery) and a wide range of emotions (the funeral of John F. Kennedy and the Inauguration of Barack Obama). From “Captain Video” to “Star Trek” to “Lost;” from “A Brighter Day” to “The Edge of Night” to “General Hospital;” from “Peyton Place” to “Dynasty” to “Desperate Housewives;” there has never been a greater love, than that of The TVJ and the best friend a girl could ever have. Follow “The TV Junkie” on Facebook: