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Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? The novel

Updated on June 17, 2015
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane: The novel
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane: The novel | Source

The novel that came before the movie

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane was a chilling film. I've loved it - an been horrified by it - since I first saw it, and that was many years ago, it's just so delightfully creepy. But it's only relatively recently that I realized that it began with a novel.

And it's as scary as the movie

Maybe seeing the movie first helps, because then you can really visualize the characters, I thought. But the way this book is written, I believe that I would have still understood the despair and the heartache that is so evident. The way the characters are described - from their early days until their old age - is totally and completelychilling.

The backstory

In the introduction, we learn about the relationship between the two actresses who played Baby Jane and her sister, Blanche. They were of course, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.

A well-known rivalry

I'd vaguely heard about a rivalry between the two actresses but in the book, in gossipy Hollywood style, we're told about some of the issues the two women had both before and after the making of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane. And yet it was apparently Joan Crawford who suggested Bette Davis for the role. Maybe she thought that the animosity between the two would make the movie more electric?

Even the cover

I even find the cover of this book spooky - a discarded and broken doll, its face cracked and its damaged rosebud lips.

They are so reminiscent of the character of Baby Jane Hudson - the one-time child star who even as an older woman wears her hair in ringlets and dresses like a little girl.

The most chilling story

If you haven't read the book - or seen the movie - I'd strongly urge you to do both. There is nothing scarier than these.

The film - a chilling psychological thriller

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 50th Anniversary (BD) [Blu-ray]
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 50th Anniversary (BD) [Blu-ray]

Two sisters who are 'in later life' live together. One,Joan Crawford, was a glamorous star of the silent movies in her day.

Now she is crippled and largely at the mercy of her sister, Baby Jane. Jane was a star too, but a child star.

In this film she is a combination of a child who has never grown up and a bitter old woman with hate and resentment making her a cripple too - but emotionally.

The ending of this film is particularly chilling.


See for yourself

See a selection of scenes from the film


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I remember this one from when I was a child, it was very chilling even then. Disturbing really. I'd like to see it again and then read the book.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      You are right the cover of the book is chilling in it's own way! Think I will have to see this one at 10:00 in the morning, so I can get over it by nighttime.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      5 years ago from Colorado

      Definitely sounds chilling. Can't believe I've not seen the movie. Excellent review, as always.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ecogranny: The film is fantastic and the book adds another dimension. Thanks for reading!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      5 years ago from San Francisco

      I managed not to see this film until very recently, when I caught it on Public TV, and it is far more interesting than I ever thought it would be. Nice synopsis of the book. You made me want to add it to my reading list.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @TreasuresBrenda: It truly is! Both the book and the film are highly recommended.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      5 years ago from Canada

      Whatever Happened To Baby Jane sounds like something else!

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @lesliesinclair: Me too, until recently. I adds another dimension. The cover is so creepy, isn't it? I find real things are so much spookier than computer generated monsters, which are just silly a lot of the time.

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      5 years ago

      No kidding, that cover is spooky. I think the two women got off on their antagonisms. I did see an old rerun of the film and found it enjoyable, though I was unaware of the book.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Charlino99: It certainly was a wise choice, whoever made it. The relationship between the two in the film is amazingly electric.

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 

      5 years ago from USA

      I've seen the movie and love it, but never read the book or even knew about it! Joan Crawford was a very sharp lady. It would certainly be like her to suggest Bette Davis for the part of Baby Jane, and kudos to her, if she did.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Nancy Hardin: Thank you nancycarol - it really is the creepiest film. I've never cared much for 'traditional' horror movies (vampires etc.) but this film is so chilling because it could be real. It truly could have happened.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I've never read the book, but wow! Wasn't the movie something?! The deterioration of both women, especially Baby Jane, was chilling. If Joan Crawford suggested Betty Davis for the part, she must have known how the chemistry would be between them. Smart lady, and the movie was a hit! Love the lens!


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