Friday, July 9, 2010

The BFF's of Classic Hollywood

Like everyone else famous people can make long lasting friendships too. From what I have read about a great many classic film stars and what relationships they had with other formidable actors you would be quite surprised at some of the friendships that they had. Here are a few:

Joan Crawford and Barbara Stanwyck began their friendship in the 1930s and they remained the best of friends until Joan's death in 1977; during the course of their friendship Barbara and Joan frequently had lunch together, went out to the Cocoanut Grove from time to time accompanied by their then husbands (Franchot Tone and Robert Taylor), and they constantly sent letters back and forth. Here is a Christmas letter that Joan wrote for Barbara in 1962 (the hand written note at the bottom is Stanwyck's handwriting):
Some of Crawford's other Hollywood friends included Cesar Romero, Helen Hayes, Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, Loretta Young, and Anita Loos. She even remained close to some of her ex-husbands including Franchot Tone and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

Clark Gable and Victor Fleming were very good friends. They often fished and hunted together and when Clark Gable demanded that George Cukor be dismissed from Gone With The Wind he had Victor Fleming come in to direct the remainder of the film as he had just finished direction of The Wizard of Oz.

Irene Dunne and Loretta Young were very much gal-pals. The attended charity events and Academy Award dinners together very often and they were both very devot Roman Catholics who also went to the same Catholic church somewhere in Beverly Hills, CA and would sit next to one another along with Loretta's three sisters if they were able to attend. In fact because they came to Mass together reguarly the became known as "Our Lady of the Cadillacs".

Two other dear friends of Loretta Young's were actresses Jane Wyman and Rosalind Russell who were also Roman Catholics attending the same Catholic church and would assist Loretta and Irene with their church duties and Catholic charities. In fact, when Loretta Young won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1947 for her work in The Farmers Daughter she actually called Rosalind that morning to wish her luck with the ceremony that night because she had been nominated for her dramatic performance in Mourning Becomes Electra. At the ceremony that evening everyone was so convinced that Rosalind was going to win, because her performance got such rave reviews, that when Fredric March got on stage to announce the Best Actress of 1947 he actually began saying Rosalind Russell's name as he was pulling the paper out of the envelope.

When he looked and saw it was Loretta Young he cut off Roz's name short and said Loretta's name instead and when Loretta got on stage to accept the award she actually hesitated as accepting her Oscar and asked Fredric to hand her the envelope so that she could see for herself that she had she had won. After Loretta accepted her award Rosalind came up to her later in the evening, gave her a big hug and said, "Congratulations honey!". One of Loretta's best male friends was actor James Stewart, whom you'll get to read about in the next paragraph, whom she ate lunch with occasionally and was given an award by him in December 1987 when she recieved the Louella O. Parsons Award as being the best "image of Hollywood".

Henry Fonda and James Stewart were lifelong friends. In the early 1930s Fonda and Stewart roomed together at the same Actors Apartment in New York City and developed a strong friendship. When they both began their Hollywood careers in the mid-1930s they often lunched at the Hollywood Brown Derby or they went to either Stewart or Fonda's home for a meal followed by a game of ping pong or poker. In 1940, Stewart and Fonda were both nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor; Stewart for The Philadelphia Story and Fonda for The Grapes of Wrath. Stewart won that year and later when Henry came up to congratulate him for his accomplishment Stewart looked at him and said, "Henry I didn't deserve this, this should have gone to you". Fonda laughed and thanked him and told him that everyone gets what they deserve and that maybe he'd ge it next time. Henry would recieve an Academy Award before his death in 1982 and he did with his performance as Norman Thayer in On Golden Pond (1981). Until his death James and Henry were dear friends.

Bette Davis and Claude Rains developed a longlasting friendship when they were employed at Warner Bros. Studios in the 1930s and 1940s. Their first film apperance together was in Juarez (1939) followed by Now, Voyager (1942), Mr. Skeffington (1944), and Deception (1946). When Bette Davis was married to William Grant Sherry she suffered alot of physical and verbal abuse and when she wanted to evade him Claude Rains let her come down to stay with him and his family at their farm in West Bradford Township, PA just outside of West Chester. Even when Bette divorced Sherry in 1950 she was still always a welcomed guest at Rains farm whenever she wanted to come down. She and he would remain the best of friends until his death in 1967.


  1. I had heard at one point Fonda and Stewart got into an argument over their conflicting political views. They eventually realized that one little difference shouldnt ruin their long running friendship so they promised never to talk about the subject with each other.

    Thats interesting about Claude Rains and Bette Davis. I always wondered since they made so many films together and their chemistry with each other seemed natural whether she was his lover, patient, or murderer. Judging by their personalities, it makes sense since they seem like they would get a long well.

    Great post!

  2. This post was very interesting! :)
    More friendships: Barbara Stanwyck - Zeppo Marx and Rosalind Russell - Frank Sinatra.

  3. Stanwyck was also a good friend of Carole Lombard, Crawford's mid-1920s dance rival at the Cocoanut Grove...although Carole and Joan themselves weren't all that close.

  4. Loretta Young was actually descended from Brigham Young, the great Mormon prophet who founded Salt Lake City.