Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Temple Tuesday: The Baby Jane Connection

The classic camp horror film “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” (1962) has a number of Shirley connections. Who knew? At the beginning of the film, we see two little girls in a theatre back in 1917. One is Jane, a famous child star with big blonde curls (more Pickford than Temple, though); the other is her sister Blanche, the wide-eyed and not-so-inwardly jealous one with dark hair.

Julie Allred had her one and only screen appearance in this film as little Jane, apparently due to her family’s religious beliefs. On the flip side, Gina Gillespie (young Blanche), already had quite a healthy number of screen credits by the time “Baby Jane” was made, including two on “The Shirley Temple Show.” Born September 20, 1951, she is the sister of ex-Mouseketeer Darlene Gillespie.

Her first appearance on “The Shirley Temple Show” was in 1960, playing the title character in the “Madeline” episode.

Imogene Coca costarred, doing a beautiful job as Miss Clavel.

Gina’s second appearance was in the January 8, 1961 “Pippi Longstocking” episode. Gina has the distinction of being the first to play Astrid Lindgren’s character in a television or movie adaptation.

And here we have adult Blanche, played by Joan Crawford. Probably the one time you’d ever see this actress looking anything less than glamorous:

Back in 1938, Joan had visited Shirley on the set of “Little Miss Broadway,” giving the star a box of chocolates:

Anna Lee plays the nosy neighbor, Mrs. Bates in “Baby Jane”:

Back in 1948, she costarred with Shirley in the John Ford Western, “Fort Apache.” Irene Rich is the actress in the center:

And there you have it. I didn’t really see any significant connection between Shirley and Bette Davis; perhaps she had heard Vivien Leigh’s famous quote about her when she declined to replace Crawford in “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte”:

“I could almost stand to look at Joan Crawford's face at 6am, but not Bette Davis.”

See more photos at my main website.

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