Did you know you could receive an Academy Award from the comfort of your own bed?
In Feud: Bette and Joan‘s second episode, titled “The Other Woman,” Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) continue to clash on the set of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, with the men in their lives seemingly egging their rivalry on. Plus, both leading ladies made pretty nasty comments about each other and used different tactics to exact control on the set of the film. And yes, Joan really was shown accepting an Oscar in her bedroom. But was everything shown during the episode accurate?
Let’s separate the truth from the exaggerations in episode two…
FICTION: There’s no record of a young actress, never named on Feud (just called “the cookie”), playing the “sexy neighbor girl” being fired. (The role was played by Bette’s real-life daughter, B.D. [Kiernan Shipka].)
FACT: There is a small moment where Bette asks Joan to stop sending her “daily gifts,” and it’s true that Joan used to send her supposed rival gifts and flowers. Bette eventually sent Crawford a note that said, “GET OFF THE CRAP!”
FACT: In the ’40s, Joan made the move from MGM to Warner Bros., taking on the lead role in Mildred Pierce after Bette turned it down. The role ended up winning Joan her first and only Oscar in 1946, which she did accept in bed (she invited photographers into her bedroom to document the moment as well) when she was too sick to attend the ceremony.
FACT: At a press luncheon early on in the episode, Joan said Bette would be nominated for an Oscar for Baby Jane, which Joan later claimed to have said in real-life, as well. Months before the Awards,” she said in a 1964 interview. “I predicted that Bette Davis would be nominated and would win.”
FACT: Bette did make comments on Joan’s “fake” boobs. “Worse, in the scene where the old broad was croaking on the beach, she strapped on a pair of falsies that made her look like the Hollywood Hills,” Bette said, according to Elizabeth Fuller‘s book, Me and Jezebel. “Can you imagine a pair of giant tits jutting up toward the sky on someone who for years was supposed to have been wasting away?”
FACT: Crawford did once say “poor” Bette “never had a happy day, or night, in her life,” though she said it way before they ever filmed the movie.
FACT: Hedda Hopper was really bitter rivals with fellow gossip monger Louella Parsons, who is name-checked in the episode after Joan goes to the press about Bette. And Joan’s line to Hedda about her former career as an actress was also a fact, as she transitioned to gossip after her career never took off.
FICTION: Despite Joan saying she and director Bob Aldrich had “private” rehearsals during their previous film, Autumn Leaves, and Bette kissing Bob at the end of the episode, there’s no real confirmation that either woman slept with or had an affair with him.
Before agreeing to join Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Bette asked Bob if had ever had “a meaningful relationship” with Joan, to which he said, “The answer is no…not that I didn’t have the opportunity,” according to Bette’s autobigraphy.
“As the producer-director, one of the challenges of his job was to show no partiality of any kind to either of his female stars,” Davis wrote. “And he didn’t.”
Feud: Bette and Joan airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on FX.