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Many of the events and period details seen in Feud were re-created with an impressive degree of faithfulness to their real life counterparts—for example, check out this side-by-side comparison showing Feud’s version of Bette Davis’s appearance on the Andy Williams Show versus the actual one. Some elements, however, called for a bit of creative license. Such was the case with Joan Crawford’s mansion.
By the time Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? began production, Crawford no longer owned a luxurious Los Angeles mansion, having decamped for New York several years earlier. Between 1960 and 1972, she kept a rental apartment on Fountain Avenue for her Hollywood stints. Rather than dutifully depict that less-than-impressive fact, the show used this Paul Williams-designed Colonial Revival in Holmby Hills for exterior shots of Joan’s home, while the ultra-glamorous Hollywood Regency-style interiors that renowned decorator Billy Haines had designed for Joan’s former Brentwood abode were reproduced on a studio set with the help of vintage magazine articles and archival photos.
Production designer Judy Becker also cites Sunnylands, the Rancho Mirage retreat of philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenberg, as a major influence on the show’s look. Now open to the public, the estate was designed in the mid-60s by A. Quincy Jones, with interiors by Haines and Ted Graber. “Midway through pre-production, I went on a tour, and it was very inspirational,” recalls Becker. “I wanted to take pictures of so many things—the furniture, the paint colors, the list of phone numbers on the bedside table—but no photos are allowed inside the house; they’re really strict about it.”