Did Bette Davis Really Kick Joan Crawford In The Head? 'Feud' Depicts Their Dark Relationship
With any adaptation of a true story for the screen, you have to wonder how much of what you're seeing is real and how much is dramatized to make it more compelling. That's certainly the case for Feud, the latest FX anthology series from the mind of Ryan Murphy. Only a few episodes into the season, Feud — whose first season follows the infamously contentious relationship between Hollywood icons Bette Davis and Joan Crawford on the set of their 1962 movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? — is already making a name for itself as an over-the-top drama-fest. But did all of the events reenacted really happen as depicted? For one, did Bette Davis really kick Joan Crawford in the head?
There are plenty of rumors about what actually happened on the set of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, rumors that were particularly trenchant given the fact that neither Davis or Crawford ever actually confirmed their "feud" by dissing each other publicly. But according to numerous reputable sources upon which the show is based, the rivalry between the two screen legends ran deep and lasted the course of many years. The feud was in full swing when the two women, in the latter portions of their long acting careers, agreed to work with one another on the 1962 classic horror-thriller. Suffice it to say, things on set were allegedly tense.
There are plenty of tales about the jabs and snipes Crawford and Davis took at one another while filming the movie. One of the juiciest and most diabolical, per Biography's run-down of the feud, is the story about Crawford (knowing Davis had back problems) secretly strapping a weighted belt (or rocks, the story varies) around her body, causing Davis to throw her back out when she had to pick up Crawford (who was playing the crippled Blanche) and drag her across the room.
But the most infamous and well-known story is the legend that Davis kicked Crawford in the head during one of their scenes.
The kick is depicted in the trailer and should therefore be happening soon. Sarandon's Davis rounds up for a full-force kick to the back of Crawford's head, in a scene that, and according to numerous retellings of the event, it was meant to have been simulated as part of a fight scene between their two characters. Allegations that Davis actually kicked her surfaced from the set and have persisted ever since, with some insiders even claiming that the kick was so hard that Crawford needed stitches for the resulting open head wound.
Though many stories have been told about the feud (and likely exaggerated, to some degree), this one is commonly accepted as having definitely happened. After all, it's easy enough (during an acted fight scene) to pretend your foot slipped and you accidentally-on-purpose kick someone. With the open hatred between the two actresses, it's no surprise that so much of this drama really went down as told.