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Joan Crawford and Betty Davis Are Connected Not Only by Infamous Feud but Also by Secrets & Personal Tragedies

Joe Akins
Sep 04, 2021
01:20 P.M.
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Joan Crawford and Bette Davis's rivalry was a historical one in Hollywood as both actresses let professional and personal resentment get in the way of their relationship. Aside from their feud, the famous stars were connected by shocking similarities.


The talents of Joan Crawford and her arch-rival Bette Davis were beyond doubt, but it was their rivalry that marked out their lives and career.

While both stars were constantly in a feud, they shared similar tragedies and reported having had abortions to save their careers. The long-standing war between both silver-screen icons was sparked by both professional and personal resentment.

Picture of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis | Photo: Getty Images


Both stars wanted the best of work and lovers but had the other to contend with. But, aside from their feud, Davis and Crawford were connected by some similarities.


By the time Davis made her Hollywood debut, Crawford was already a standout actress in the industry. However, with Davis' arrival, Hollywood seemed to have shifted its focus to the new star, beginning several decades of rivalry.

In 1933, Davis had her movie "Ex-Lady" on the way, and Warner Bros planned a huge publication until Crawford announced her divorce from her husband on the same day. The media focused its attention on the juicy story of the divorce, leaving Davis to face the pain of being on the sidelines.


American film actress Joan Crawford at the Oscars award ceremony in Hollywood on April 11, 1962 | Photo: Getty Images


One of the personal wars both actresses fought was reportedly over an actor Davis was in love with; Franchot Tone. Both stars appeared in the successful movie "Dangerous," and Davis confessed that she was in love with the man professionally and privately.


It proved a bitter pill for Davis to swallow when Crawford clinched her prized man. More than five decades after the incident, Davis noted that it remained an event etched in her mind.

While "Dangerous" was being filmed, Crawford and Tone announced their engagement. Davis described the pain of seeing Crawford hanging out with Tone, who she acknowledged was head over heels in love with her rival.

Bette Davis in a promotional photo for the 1950 film, "All About Eve" | Photo: Getty Images



According to reports, there was once a time when abortions were deemed okay by actresses hoping to save their careers. Studios at that time felt having kids would be a distraction for their stars, and so a secret abortion was always a way out.

In 1931, Crawford was pregnant with a child many believed to have belonged to Clark Gable. Not wanting to affect her rising career, Crawford had a secret abortion arranged.

She explained to her then-husband Douglas Fairbanks Jr. that during the filming of Rain on Catalina Island, she slipped on the deck of a ship and lost the baby.


Actress Bette Davis, circa 1985 | Photo: Getty Images

Davis, on the other hand, chose to have abortions to save her career. As the breadwinner of her family, the iconic actress knew the heavy price she had to pay to keep the fame coming.



Both Davis and Crawford had ungrateful daughters as a common experience. However, while Davis sympathized with Crawford after her adopted daughter, Christina described Crawford as abusive.

Later on, Davis's daughter B.D. Hyman launched a heavy attack on her mom in a book entitled "My Mother's Keeper," where she described her mom as selfish and emotionally abusive.

Joan Crawford helping her daughter Christina during her piano lesson in the United States on July 25, 1947 | Photo: Getty Images



Both Davis and Crawford were married four times and adopted children. Also, both stars lost a partner during their marriages and had to cope with rumors of infidelity.

According to reports, Crawford was unable to have kids, so she adopted five: Christina (1940;) Christopher (1942, was reclaimed by his birth mother), another boy, Christopher (1943), and twin girls, Catherine and Cynthia (1947.)

Bette Davis with her daughter Barbara Davis Sherry (later known as B.D. Hyman), circa 1965 | Photo: Getty Images

Davis, on the other hand, made sure to omit her only biological child from her will following their irreparable relationship. However, her mutual connections with Crawford show that both stars were not entirely different after all.


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