HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.
Has Hollywood ever produced greater friends than Bette Davis and Joan Crawford? No it has not. I think I’m right in saying that I was married to one or possibly even both of them in the 1950s, and can claim some if not all of the credit for their most famous film. If King Vidor tries to tell you different you just say that Sir Edwin Fluffer calls him a liar. Then knock his hat off and run away.
I was doing a jigsaw puzzle with darling Bette one night when the doorbell rang. I opened it to none other than Miss Joan Crawford and straight away from the look on that famous face I could tell what had happened. Kirk Douglas’s dog, Chaplin, had made a mess on the sidewalk and unlucky Joan had stepped right in it!
I brought her inside and poured a stiff brandy which I downed in one, then leapt into action. Joan’s shoe was off in a trice, double bagged, and thrown out with the garbage. The poor darling was still in a terrible state of shock so I insisted she sit down while I had another brandy. Then something happened which changed the world forever: while Joan started helping with the puzzle by separating all the blue pieces which we thought were either the sea or the sky, Bette noticed a script on the table. Kirk Douglas had popped it through the letterbox while he was out walking that filthy dog of his by way of an apology for getting me fired from Spartacus. The idea was that we’d play the warring brothers in Whatever Happened To Tiny Terrence? Bette read it from cover to cover, took out a pen, changed the name in the title to Baby Jane and passed it to Joan saying ‘when do you want to start?’ It was then that disaster struck.
The brandy had all gone by now and as they helped me up I trod on poor Joan’s foot! To make matters worse I insisted she borrow a pair of my shoes to walk home in, and the only thing we could find to match her ballgown was a pair of brogues.
She said they rubbed a little, but stupidly neither Bette nor I thought anything of it. Two days later it was all over the front pages: Joan Crawford Has An In-Growing Toenail! People tried to be kind, but I knew it was all my fault, and to this day I still can’t forgive myself. George Sanders never spoke to me again.
The result was that when they came to film Baby Jane, darling Joan had to shoot all her scenes in a wheelchair.
Even now I can’t watch that picture without wondering what would’ve happened if I’d given her a pair of loafers, or even my moccasins with some spats for extra protection.
The last time I ever saw her she looked at me and said ‘Neddy, don’t hold it against me’, so I stood back a bit and put it away. I once held it against a young Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell punched me in the face, but that’s another story…