Olivia de Havilland doesn’t want to talk about Feud or the 1963 Oscars

Ryan Murphy’s latest series, Feud, has been a critical and audience smash. Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon are sure to be remembered come Emmy time – along with Stanley Tucci, Alfred Molina and Judy Davis (and if Jackie Hoffman doesn’t get the award for Best Supporting Actress, the Emmys will lose all credibility to me). The FX series airs its finale on Sunday night (the day after my forty-cough-cough-th birthday) – and if you think there’s nothing left to cover, I have one word for you, TROG. I don’t want it to ever end.

Of course, most of the real-life players in the show have passed away. Well, all but one. Olivia de Havilland, Bette Davis’ longtime friend who replaced Joan Crawford in Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte, is still alive. Catherine Zeta Jones portrays her on Feud and while I’m sure it’s not a 100% accurate representation, it sure is fun to watch. While developing the script, Ryan said he did not consult with Olivia regarding the events covered in the series. He told The Hollywood Reporter he “didn’t want to intrude,” adding “I didn’t write Olivia because I didn’t want to be disrespectful and ask her, ‘Did this happen? Did that happen? What was your take on that?’”

Inquiring minds want to know Olivia’s take on the events of the series (in particular, the 1963 Oscars) as well as her thoughts on the rivalry between Bette and Joan. The 100-year-old screen legend, who now calls Paris her home (no word on if she’s still got a Swiss chalet as well), recently responded to an email sent by The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg and proved she’s still a class act. Here’s her response:

I have received your email with its two questions. […] I would like to reply first to the second of these, which inquires of me the accuracy of a current television series entitled Feud, which concerns Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and their supposed animosity toward each other. Having not seen the show, I cannot make a valid comment about it. However, in principle, I am opposed to any representation of personages who are no longer alive to judge the accuracy of any incident depicted as involving themselves. […] As to the 1963 Oscar ceremony, which took place over half a century ago, I regret to say that I have no memory of it whatsoever and therefore cannot vouch for its accuracy.

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

I love, love, love this. Makes you miss the Golden Age of Hollywood, before social media and endless petty skirmishes between celebrities, doesn’t it? I can only assume Miss de Havilland would not appreciate it if Feud addressed her infamous rivalry with sister Joan Fontaine in a future season. I think Ryan would know to leave well enough alone with that, but there are plenty of other tales of Hollywood legends he can tell – and I hope he does. I am really going to miss this season of Feud.

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'Feud: Bette and Joan' NYC event - Arrivals

Olivia de Havilland

Photos: Getty Images, WENN.com

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77 Responses to “Olivia de Havilland doesn’t want to talk about Feud or the 1963 Oscars”

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  1. RussianBlueCat says:

    I would have loved to see Joan Crawford and Bette Davis have a Twitter fight.. The shade and insults thrown around would be amazing

  2. Nicole says:

    Well that’s a classy response and I’m glad Murphy didn’t pester her for details. I haven’t watched Feud at all because of Surandon which sucks because I know it’s good. I’ll wait for the next season which hopefully will not include her.

    • third ginger says:

      I totally get it about Sarandon. She enrages me. But what you can learn about old Hollywood [part of a class I teach] is pretty terrific.

      • Nicole says:

        It’s just not worth supporting her so I’m going to pass. Plus old Hollywood has no interest in me because it was overwhelmingly white and I don’t have any nostalgia for that era. Not saying I don’t like old movies but it’s not an interest

      • third ginger says:

        You probably know about the parallel African-american film industry, neglected by and sometimes appropriated by white culture. One of the greats was Oscar Micheaux, a pioneer of cinema who never got his due.

      • Nicole says:

        I was lucky enough to grow watching black movies and music. My parents were really big on that. And in college I had some great professors (white and black) that taught us about “lost” black movies and music. Ie stolen and appropriated. My one professor ripped into Elvis Presley for half a lecture on his music. It was magical.

    • Megan says:

      Yep, I really wanted to watch this, but I’m voting with my wallet when it comes to Sarandon.

  3. boredblond says:

    de Havilland was and is a gem..if you’ve never seen “The Heiress” (1949) do yourself a favor and watch.

    • Green Is Good says:

      The Heiress is marvelous!

      • third ginger says:

        Susanne too, I have read so much about Monty over the years, really an all time favorite. John Wayne was dubious about him but ended up respecting him. I love RED RIVER. Monty brought a much needed new take on screen “masculinity” as did Brando and Dean. I often wish Monty could be reborn, be out and free, and still a major star. Sigh…..

      • SusanneToo says:

        MC lived in a time when he had to hide himself which, no doubt, contributed to his downward spiral. When I watch The Misfits it’s hard not to be distracted by the tragic ends of the three leads. Very sad.

      • third ginger says:

        So true, Susanne Too.

      • Christin says:

        @SusanneToo – Knowing real-life endings of the three leading actors made me avoid viewing The Misfits for years. I finally watched it within the last five years.

      • SusanneToo says:

        I saw it first run in ’61. At that time only Gable was gone, dying a few months before his first & only son was born. He had an unacknowledged daughter from a secret affair with Loretta Young, it was later revealed. Marilyn still had a year before her sad end and Monty had a few years left. So, in retrospect, it’s a much sadder movie for me.

    • Lolo86lf says:

      The Heiress is one of my favorite movies. She was brilliant. The ending is genius when Montgomery Clift knocks on her door begging her to let him in.

      • third ginger says:

        One of my favorites!! Monty forever. Several years ago I showed this to my film class. they burst into applause at the end.

      • SusanneToo says:

        @third ginger How do you like Monty in Red River? Unusual role for him, but he was magnificent. And drop dead beautiful. One of my favorite movies.

      • Giddy says:

        @third ginger,The first time I saw The Heiress I pwas alone, so no one to bother as I jumped up from my couch and cheered! I feel the same about Gaslight, and any of the Gene Tierney movies, from Laura to the crazy creepy Leave Her to Heaven.

    • Christin says:

      Absolutely a marvelous movie.

    • Merritt says:

      Yes! The Heiress is one of my favorite films.

    • African Sun says:

      She’s wonderful. I read that she’s very involved in the American Episcopalian Church in Paris, that’s where most of her energy is at these days and she responds to letters.

  4. Lolo86lf says:

    We will never know exactly how the events really happened because most of the characters portrayed on Feud are dead. They can’t defend themselves. They can’t authorize/unauthorized the show. Even in the present, we cannot really be sure of how things happened for instance between Taylor Swift’s and Katy Perry’s feud. In fifty years from now someone will make a tv show about them.

    • Luca76 says:

      I mean by that logic you shouldn’t ever read a book about Abraham Lincoln or Julius Ceaser because everyone is dead and we can’t know what’s accurate. People stitch together accounts and that’s called history. I love the epic bitchiness of ODH’s shade but her stance is kind of ridiculous.

      • Marianne says:

        she wasn’t saying that people shouldnt watch the show or that the show shouldnt have been made at all. She’s just saying that none of us will ever truly know what happened. And that goes the same with Lincoln or Caesar. Yes, we can piece certain information together with documents, letters, pictures, videos whatever. But none of us will ever have the full picture.

  5. MinnFinn says:

    My mind immediately goes to Miss Melly Hamilton.

    Anyone know where I can stream Gone With the Wind?

    • boredblond says:

      Got Kodi? or, if you have roku, load xtv…always available on these

    • Norman Bates' Mother says:

      I’ve just seen it on Netflix, but I live in Poland and we have a completely different catalogue of movies here, so I’m not sure if it’s helpful.

    • LAK says:

      If you don’t have any channels, youtube has a raft of movies you can stream for a fee per movie. Like old school blockbuster except it’s online. GWTW is on there.

  6. third ginger says:

    One of the many great things about FUED is the portrayal of both ageism and sexism in Hollywood. At the same time Joan and Bette were struggling to work, older leading men were still being paired with ingenues in films. At one point in the series, Joan talks about how women once aspired to be screenwriters, directors, etc, but that once the industry realized that money and power might be part of that, they “gave it all to the men.”

    We have had thus far ONE female best director Oscar winner and few nominees.

  7. Lindy79 says:

    Ive been watching Feud online *cough unofficially cough* and am enjoying it.
    Zeta Jones is a wrong fit but it’s camp fun and nice to see a show where women of a certain age are front and centre (even if one of them in Sarandon). It doesn’t shy away from showing how these women were treated by the studios either, not in all aspects granted.

    • Fleur says:

      I’ve always thought the Golden Age actress Catherine Zeta Jones truly resembles is Gene Tierney.

  8. Luca76 says:

    Master Class in shade. This is unequivocal. Oh and anyone who has a curiosity about old Hollywood should listen to the You Must Remember This podcast.

    • tifzlan says:

      Love love LOVE YMRT. If you love Old Hollywood as much as i do and want to know more about Joan Crawford, YMRT did a 6-part series on her last winter, I believe, with 1 episode dedicated to the Crawford-Davis feud.

      • Luca76 says:

        Yes I love that series.My favorite so far was the Manson series (and I usual don’t enjoy true murder stuff) I saw some of Feud and I’ll definitely catch it later but I think I’m going to end up preferring the podcast.

  9. Mia4s says:

    Bow before Lady Olivia you peasants! None of us are worthy! 😉

    Seriously though, they truly don’t make stars like they used too. The stories and secrets Olivia knows! She’s told some of them but she’s always had a very careful idea of what should and should not be told. Imagine what she’s holding back!!

    • third ginger says:

      What I always wonder is if those greats lived today, what roles would they choose for themselves outside of the control of the studio system?

      • Mia4s says:

        Good question. It’s hard to know since standards changed so drastically that what we consider “prestige” now would be pretty vulgar in their time.

        There’s some overlap in the more blockbuster material: Sir Alec Guinness was a legend by the time he was in Star Wars (sadly very unhappy about the impact of that movie in the end), Brando was in the first of the big Superhero movies, Superman (though that was purely for the money….wait…so nothing has really changed there! 😉).

        As much as people brag about the 70s as a “golden age of cinema” ultimately in the 70s a lot of the aging stars of the old studio system ended up doing movies for the money; the Airport movies, Towering Inferno, etc. It’s youth and money driven, has been forever. If you were lucky you had enough money to retire and ride off into the sunset. If you wanted to/had to keep working? You took whatever they offered.

      • LAK says:

        Mia4s: they also moved to television, so no changes there.

      • third ginger says:

        Yes, Lak, many did move on to television. Several generations only knew the divine Babara Stanwyck from the western BIG VALLEY. she may be my favorite from the Golden Age.

      • SusanneToo says:

        @tg. Phyllis Dietrichson, the greatest femme fatale ever and Walter Neff, the biggest fall guy. One of my all time favorite movies.

      • third ginger says:

        Susanne, too. We may be long lost relatives. Or reincarnations of extras from the Golden Age. How did Walter Neff, amoral to the core, end up as the father on MY THREE SONS?

      • Christin says:

        And how did a Christmastime bracelet thief end up as wise matriarch V. Barkley? (Referencing another Stanwyck-MacMurray classic.)

    • Chinoiserie says:

      She once talked about writing (or authorizing) a biography, hopefully that still is worked on even if she is too classy for scandalous details.

  10. Christin says:

    I was going to question whether Joan F would have spilled secrets, had she outlived Olivia. She seemed the more vocal of the two about their rivalry. Olivia did give an interview after her sister’s death, but it was tactful.

  11. geneva says:

    I haven’t seen Feud and although I certainly get the impression that these kinds of tensions existed – for sure – just think of the ageism and sexism going on in Hollywood today…and for every new actress with talent there is a younger, thinner version waiting in the wings.

    My fav. movie of Bette Davis is “All About Eve”…fasten your seatbelts, it is going to be a bumpy night!” but that touched on those waiting to take an aging actresses place…so if they did feud..perhaps it was fueled by these realities. I would like to see a story about GPaltrow and Winona Ryder..and how GPaltrow supposedly saw the script for Shakespeare in Love while at WR home..and sprinted..not ran at full speed ..to her agent to try and nab that part. I guess if you want a friend in Hollywood, get a dog.

    • third ginger says:

      Love ALL ABOUT EVE and teach it in my film class. What never fails to crack me up is Margo’s “confession” that she is turning “40….40.” I laugh because I had my daughter when I was 40.

      Love the incomparable George Sanders as Addison DeWitt (Best supporting actor winner).

    • WendNerd says:

      The show is ALL ABOUT sexism and ageism! They go HARD on that. They show the “diva” antics of Crawford and Davis and Aldrich claiming not to “work with aging actresses again”…. Then he makes a film with Sinatra, who is 100000000% worse, but still gets work because, well, penis. They go into the “hagsploitation” genre, how Jack Warner engineered the Feud (literally having Aldrich give Hedda Hopper fake, nasty quotes allegedly from Davis, about Crawford, and stir up the hatred whenever they were getting along). Them not getting any offers after they make huge hits. When the Baby Jane speech is pitched, Jack Warner’s first sentence is “Would you f**k [Crawford or Davis]?” Other studios keep wanting to either recast the film with younger actresses or shift the focus to the young, sexy neighbor girl part. Even Davis’s daughter gives her a speech about how she should retire and “bow out gracefully” “because no one wants you anymore.” And so on and so forth. There’s a subplot about a woman writing a screenplay and wanting to be a director, which of course ends in disappointment to the point where one of the characters (Mamacita, best character in the show) gives this speech about how it makes financial sense for Hollywood to give more films to women, by women (with, you know, the depressing future weighing heavily). They do a great job contrasting the two women while highlighting ALL THE INSANE AMOUNT OF THINGS THEY HAD IN COMMON AND WHY THEY SHOULD BE FRIENDS. But that didn’t drum up publicity or sell tickets so… Hagsploitation and women at each others’ throats instead.

    • Fleur says:

      Honestly, I’m not a GOOP fan, but I’ve seen Shakespeare in Love. Gwyneth really makes the whole movie work. She’s the heart of the film, and she deserved that Oscar. I wish she’d stuck with more art house period pieces in her prime and really explored her acting gift, but she picked odd role choices after her win, and then the loss of her father seemed to push her into more of a mother/lifestyle path which I can’t blame her for.

  12. Katydid20 says:

    Isn’t there a rumor out there that the next season of Feud is on Charles and Diana? Have to say that should be pretty interesting to watch…….. Absolutely love this season of it.

  13. Anon says:

    “Opposed to any representation of personages no longer alive.” Oh please. What an absolutely bulls–t response. So no movies about Lincoln or MLK? It all sounds frightfully dignified and Old Hollywood in the delivery but it is on analysis a stupid thing to say. Hollywood has made thousands of biopics, about recently deceased and long dead historical figures. Long may it continue to do so.

    • Sigh says:

      On a larger Hollywood scale yes. It’s nonsense. But I think all Olivia was saying here was she didnt want to speak for either Bette or Joan and their relationship because she wasn’t a part of it and only they could have judged how accurate the portrayal was.
      I think she didn’t want to spill the tea about her old ‘friends’ like she still refuses to do with her sister and that was another nasty Hollywood relationship.

      It seems if there was negative stories floating around, Olivia has either debunked or brushed off those rumors (stuff with Errol Flynn, again, her sister) but she hasn’t, to much knowledge, talked a bunch of crap about other people she’s worked with.

      • marjiscott says:

        All I know is that did say at one point, After seeing Bette Davis on the screen, in the early Thirties, was she said I wanted to have a career like that” “She was my inspiration”. So Olivia was completely enthralled by Bette’s acting. Joan? The word around the studio in the late Twenties was that Joan Crawford had been a call girl to Harry Warner, several directors, and anyone else who could help her on her way up, as many, many actresses did, and still do today. “They had to fumigate the Studio after Crawford had been there” Joan’s defense was acting acting like” butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth”.. not gossip, truth.

      • Sigh says:

        @ marjiscott

        Yup! It’s all out there. Olivia doesn’t need to speak to any of it. Bette and Joan put it all out there themselves. They were ruthless. I’d love to see modern actors survive the scathing press these two lobbed at eachother.

        And Crawford ‘having a reputation’ was out there as well. Even Bette was quoted as saying Joan “slept with every male star at MGM -except Lassie.”

      • third ginger says:

        Sigh, I’m not sure many contemporary stars could survive Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons! Now there’s a show idea.

      • third ginger says:

        All in here for the Errol Flynn “tea” as the kids say.

      • Sigh says:


        Flynn was such a shady, shady guy. But with Olivia specifically were the rumors of the affairs they allegedly had. They made so many movies together of course that rumor was going to pop up! During Robin Hood the rumor popped again and Olivia said they loved eachother but he was married so the movies they made and the chemistry they had would have to be enough. Although it’s not like marriage would have stopped him…

        Coincidentally, Flynn and Davis hated each other. She didn’t think he could act and was constantly berating him throughout The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. He would bait her and act like a jerk. After the premiere when Bette saw the movie she was stunned and exclaimed that Flynn actually “could act!” And who was sitting right by Bette to recount this story later? Olivia De Havilland.

    • sanders says:

      Anon, I had the same reaction as you, pretty disingenuous though I understand she doesn’t want to get dragged into it.

  14. bap says:

    Good for you Olivia for not commenting, you have to much class.

  15. Chaine says:

    So I guess she arrived at her philosophy opposed to the representation of persons not alive very late in life, after she appeared in such movies as “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex,” “They Died with Their Boots On,” and ”The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana”???

    • Chinoiserie says:

      She did not say these can’t be made, just that they shouldnt be used to judge accuracy of real life events and she does not be involved in gossip. Or that is how I took her statement.

  16. Tess says:

    Aw! I was totally down for the tea!

  17. WendNerd says:

    Speaking of Feud—
    TBH, I’m hoping that this show does a season on Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks because I’d love to see them explore the intersectionality of racism and sexism fueling things in the fashion industry. Like, that ghastly variety of anti-black/racist-tinged sexism and sexist-tinged anti-blackness known as Misogynoir that black women are subjected to, as well as reflections on colorism, “looking white”, “aesthetic” issues (AKA, “WE CAN’T USE BLACK MODELS BECAUSE WE’RE TOO LAZY TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO THEIR MAKEUP/IT DOESN’T FIT OUR COLOR SCHEME/WE WANTED THINGS TO LOOK “FEMININE”, etc), and/or how this played out specifically in the supposed “post-racial” (HA!) 90′s America.

    As much as I loved the People Vs OJ, and how they definitely explored both sexism and racism, I wish they’d gone more into how those things intersect, such as by maybe exploring Sean Chapman Holley’s character more (I know she wasn’t the player that Cochrane, Clarke, and Darden were, but that case DEFINITELY had more elements of sexism than people usually acknowledge and I honestly do wonder what would have liked to have Chapman’s perspective, as the only other woman on the case, the only woman on the defense, the only BLACK WOMAN on the case, an educated Black Woman in racist AF LA, and her work with Cochrane, who abused his ex-wife. Like, I honestly didn’t understand why it was a problem in the show when Robert Kardashian asked Shawn if what Johnny said about black women not liking black men marrying white girls was “true” and that it might make them biased against OJ. Like, why should any of them accept Cochrane’s mansplaining of the black female perspective? Especially when he turned out to be kind of wrong? WANT TO KNOW ABOUT BLACK WOMEN, ASK BLACK WOMEN. Sorry, I just feel like when you want to explore both sexism and racism, you can’t just focus on the white women and the black males. BLACK WOMEN NEED TO BE PART OF THAT CONVERSATION. MISOGYNOIR IS A VERY PARTICULAR BRAND OF BIGOTRY)

    But yeah, like, whenever I read about the Campbell/Banks feud, it says how Naomi apparently was afraid of Tyra pushing her out because there could only be so many black models. And I… kind of get what she meant? I mean, that SHOULDN’T be the case, but, well, the fashion industry is SUPER RACIST and they DON’T make room for more than like, two women of any race that isn’t white. And that would be amazing to see play out on TV.

    • Luca76 says:

      Yes I’d much rather that than Charles and Di which is honestly just sad and overexposed. On a superficial level it’s never been done but my only problem would be you’d probably get casting like Gigi Hadad as Linda Evangalista.

  18. Tiffany says:

    No lie, I will totally watch a season of Feud about the Olivia and Joan. Their hatred is just prime for the celluloid.

  19. homeslice says:

    Jessica Lange is everything in this. I actually forget who she is when I’m watching. Her Joan Crawford is fing amazing and if Crawford was really like this she was fing crazy.

    and a shout out to Mamacita…lol! I’m gonna miss this show!

  20. SusanneToo says:

    One of the saddest things I read was when Bette was asked about Mommie Dearest. She blasted that book and said it was fortunate Joan wasn’t alive to read it. She then added that her daughter would never do that to her. A few years later, her daughter, who by then had joined some fundamentalist religion, did exactly that to Bette. And she was still alive to know about it.

    • Neelyo says:

      According to Davis’ son, BD put out the book thinking that Davis would die after a recent stroke, but David survived to see it.

      BD Hyman is now a preacher for whatever religion she’s in, specializing in homophobia.

      • SusanneToo says:

        I refuse to read any hatchet job written by a spouse, S.O., child, sibling, any family member. If a biographer wants to dig up dirt while writing a fair accounting of someone’s life, that’s okay with me. But the other is just creepy to me.

    • Luca76 says:

      But why do we have to disbelieve abuse accounts? Just because? I mean there’s obviously something off about BD but I’m not going to out of hand discredit every person who wants to come forward with their own story. I just try to keep an open mind and judge each memoir on its merits.

    • Christin says:

      I read Christina’s book as a teenager and wondered if it was slanted with spite because Joan excluded her and Christopher from the will (which is mentioned upfront).

      Joan and Bette both had terrible things alleged by their daughters, yet their younger children seem to have a very different perception of their mothers. As Olivia describes her sister, it is interesting how optics can differ among siblings.

      • Betsy says:

        Granted, it’s been a few years since I read Christina’s book, but her list of grievances included things like, “being sent to boarding school,” and “not getting all the toys I wanted even though we could afford it.” I think there may have been mild corporal punishment, but while that’s not okay today, it was scarcely outside the norm then.

      • Christin says:

        It sounded as if she was a tad spoiled and stubborn. Combine that with a strict parent, and it’s no wonder they may have butted heads. Christina also claimed Joan wanted her life once she was an adult, appearing on a soap opera. I found several things just a bit too much to be believed.

        Betsy, I think each of your recollections are correct. She resented things like giving away most or all of the many gifts fans sent the children. She came across self-centered herself.

  21. Tara says:

    Oh that’s right. Susan Sarandon is “cancelled.” Sad then that Bette outlived Joan. Take yourselves seriously.

  22. Betsy says:

    Honking for Ms. de Haviland. Long live the people who act like the adults they are. They’re getting thin on the ground these days.

  23. Kate says:

    Us Olivia Really a century yrs old? Wow!