Feud promises to deliver on all the things viewers have come to expect from a Ryan Murphy show: phenomenal performances, sharp one-liners, stylish visuals, and pure entertainment. It follows the filming of the 1962 film What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?, a thriller that explored the toxic relationship between rival sisters who had once been huge stars, but whose lives devolved into disaster. That fictional story somewhat mirrored the competition between its stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, which is the real story at the heart of Feud. But did Bette Davis and Joan Crawford really hate each other?
Davis and Crawford more than hated each other: they loathed each other. Their animosity for one other spanned decades, though their close proximity during the filming of Baby Jane definitely exacerbated the situation. It started for a seemingly simple reason: both women were in love with the same man, Franchot Tone, but he ended up with Crawford (for a few years, at least). However, laying all the blame on a romance gone wrong seems almost silly considering the strength of the hostility between Crawford and Davis. Their resentment for one another may have sparked over Tone, but the fire was stoked by much more over the years.
In public, both women were relatively polite to one another. A 1962 article by gossip columnist Hedda Hopper was intended to serve as a promo for Baby Jane, and in it Davis and Crawford acted like utter professionals even as Hopper referenced the rumors of discord between them. "Rumors of bad feelings and tart exchanges between them were already circulating," Hopper wrote. "I told them we haven't had much excitement around here lately and they should start fighting and bring this place to life." However, neither Davis nor Crawford rose to the bait.
While they could turn on the charm for an interview, behind the scenes it was a different story. Davis, perhaps still stinging from what happened with Tone, liked to make caustic remarks about Crawford's active romantic life, memorably saying that Crawford had "slept with every male star at MGM – except Lassie." Crawford countered by saying she wasn't sure Davis had ever had a good night or day in her entire life. Crawford would snap up roles that Davis had turned down. They allegedly called up the director of Baby Jane to complain about each other nightly. Crawford supposedly campaigned against Davis when she was nominated for an Oscar for the film, while Crawford was snubbed.
Davis and Crawford's feud was fueled by a collection of minor grievances and nasty comments that festered over decades. It gave rise to some of the most entertaining gossip in Hollywood history, but at the end of the day the dispute between them was all too human: these women just couldn't stand each other.