Old Hollywood isn’t dead yet, as 101-year-old Olivia de Havilland is in court battling the FX Networks over her portrayal in a film about the feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, and Crawford’s grandson has now weighed in saying Oscar winner de Havilland’s attorney gave a “patently untrue” statement to the media.
The grandson says in a sworn declaration that a lawyer for de Havilland — who is suing FX Networks over her portrayal in an anthology series about the infamous feud between fellow actresses Davis and Crawford — gave a “patently untrue” statement to a media outlet that the studio obtained permission to use his grandmother’s likeness and paid for the privilege of doing so.
De Havilland had 49 feature film roles, including portraying Melanie Hamilton in “Gone with the Wind.” She’s the last living member of the cast of that famed film.
De Havilland’s suit, filed June 30, alleges that she was not asked by FX for permission to use her name and identity in “Feud: Bette and Joan” and was not compensated for such use.
Catherine Zeta-Jones portrayed de Havilland in the series, which starred Jessica Lange as Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Davis.
While de Haviland gained fame in numerous films, she is the last surviving cast member of “Gone With The Wind.”
In his declaration, Crawford grandson Casey LaLonde says he is a fan of “Feud” executive producer Ryan Murphy’s work and that he voluntarily presented footage from his grandmother’s home movie collection to assistant producer Tanase Popa.
“I did not request nor receive any compensation for the use of my grandmother’s home movies as research material for `Feud,”‘ LaLonde says. “Nor did Mr. Popa or anyone else in the making of `Feud’ offer or pay me any compensation to borrow the home movies.”
Crawford’s grandson says a quote attributed to a de Havilland lawyer in a USA Tuesday story — that LaLonde gave permission to FX to use Crawford’s likeness in “Feud” and that he was compensated for doing so — was “patently untrue.”
Popa never asked for LaLonde’s consent to allow Lange to be cast as Crawford, according to LaLonde, who added that it was a “wonderful surprise” when he found out that he was portrayed in the final episode of “Feud.”
“I learned that I was in `Feud’ when I watched the finale as a regular viewer,” LaLonde says in his declaration. “And I did not request nor receive any compensation for being depicted in the finale.”
Crawford died in May 1977 and Davis in October 1989.
A hearing is scheduled Friday on a motion by the network’s attorneys to dismiss de Havilland’s case on free-speech grounds. LaLonde’s declaration is being offered by FX attorneys in support of the dismissal motion.
A two-time Academy Award winner for her lead roles in “To Each His Own” and “The Heiress,” de Havilland “has built a professional reputation for integrity, honesty, generosity, self-sacrifice and dignity,” according to her complaint. “A key reason for the public’s deep respect for Olivia de Havilland is that in her 80-plus year career, she has steadfastly refused to engage in typical Hollywood gossip about the relationships of other actors.”
— City News Service