Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hollywood House Hunting: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

There is a gene in my lineage that manifests itself in a physically-humiliating way upon unsuspecting generations of family members whenever it rears its recessive head - a solid yellow stripe right down the back.  Yes, for ages a super-strain of Scaredy Cat-ism has plagued members on the weakest branches of my family tree, not the least of which is Mr. Tiny.  I, in particular, do not like horror movies.  Psychological thrillers and mildly-spooky films are okay when strictly relegated to daytime viewing, but slasher/monster/nightmare-inducing movies are totally unacceptable (remind me sometime to tell you how I still have visions of a headless Christopher Lloyd lurking outside my bedroom window).  So saturated is my yellow streak that it took me until the dawn of my nineteenth year to get up the nerve to watch What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962).

"I've Written A Letter to Daddy" - Bette Davis from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Now if that doesn't scare the bejeezus out of you, I don't know what will!!

Before there was Misery, there was What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, made all the more scary by the family dynamic.  I knew from the first viewing that it had become a film favorite.  Such a richly-disturbed character, Baby Jane Hudson is now a Halloween fixture; every year, for the last few years, I've had at least one friend dress up as Baby Jane complete with baby doll.  I, myself, have considered going as the mercenary heavy, Edwin Flagg, but it doesn't really translate well from film - a fat guy in a suit is just a fat guy in a suit.  Rather than focusing on the film's  costumery during this the spookiest of all seasons, I thought I'd instead search for the home where the sisters Hudson played out the ultimate in sibling rivalry.

Home of the Sisters Hudson - Hancock Park, CA

It is no wonder that location scouts for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? sought a Hancock Park home for Jane and Blanche Hudson.  Hancock Park is exactly the kind of neighborhood about which California dreamers dream.  Terrific estates built at the height of old Hollywood's heyday are perfectly authentic to the homes that budding movie stars would have purchased with their studio contract riches.  But buyer beware; I've heard that homes in this neighborhood are often prone to "rats in the cellar!"

Aside from the addition of some tasteful awnings and a
trespassing freak, the Hudson home remains eerily unchanged.

Bette Davis as Jane Hudson with Victor Buono as Edwin Flagg
in a scene from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Looking very much like a soundstage replication of the actual residence,
one can see that the iron gates and scrolled window screens original to the
home have been maintained on-set and off.

Have you ever seen What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? or the lackluster remake starring real-life sisters, Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave?  Rather than the Redgraves, I would have much preferred to see real-life sisters and bitter rivals, Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine duke it out on screen (Team Joan all the way). Wouldn't that have been something?!!

Although it is difficult to imagine any two people
loathing each other more than Bette and Joan!
There's just something about those eyes...

I love What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, making this Hollywood House Hunt particularly meaningful.  Standing in front of this house, I couldn't help but consider the very real possibility that one of my siblings will hobble me, psychologically torture me, and keep me as a prisoner in my own home.  With two brothers and two sisters, the odds are decidedly against me...or maybe it's just my cowardly imagination.

"Bette Davis Eyes" - Kim Carnes

The Hudson Home from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
172 S McCadden Pl
Los Angeles, CA


Mr. Tiny


  1. This was one of those movies my sister and I watched a lot when we were younger...no clue why...maybe the sister relationship and the character in a wheelchair made it seem like something we needed to see. A few years ago, it was even in the running for our halloween costume...but we thought no one would get it ...even though we were going to a gay bar that halloween. Oh well. Anyway, reading this post has made me want to watch it again because I have forgotten A LOT of the specifics. I wonder if it is on netflix *searching now*. Also, your new header is FANTASTIC!

    1. Thanks! My brother says he's not an artist....but he is. Maybe you and the good senator need to revisit the theme this year. A bearded Baby Jane puts a whole new spin in the costume!!! Unfortunately, WEHTBJ is not on Netflix...

    2. I know!!! I searched every medium I could access to find it and we couldnt find it. Ugh. Jamie has never seen it so I wanted to show it to him (instead we ended up watching another fucked up classic...play misty for me!). It's not gonna be this years costume but next year perhaps.

  2. ONCE AGAIN, be still my beating heart! This is one of my favorite movie houses, and favorite movies for that matter. How wonderful the house actually exists! At the theatre where I work, as tribute to the movie (and general smart-assery of my fellow employees) When we wish to emphasize something trivial, for example "I wish I weren't out of paint" someone (usually me) will chime in with "BUT YA ARE BLANCHE, YA ARE OUT OF PAINT!"
    One of the more interesting things I received through my Grandmother's estate, was a Baby Doll that she was given for Christmas in 1930. It's seen better days, and is pretty creepy looking, but the icing on the cake is that 30 years before the movie my Grandma named her new doll "Sarah Jane". BABY JANE! You can see a few pictures of it in a few of my recent posts.
    "Sister, Sister, oh so fair, why is blood all in your hair."

    1. It is such a classic, full of hilarious/disturbing quotable lines! Isn't it great to know that the house is still there, un-renovated, and in great shape?!! With your grandma's doll, you guys just might need to have a Baby Jane at your big Halloween shindig!

  3. Gads, one of my favorite creepy movies...(that, and The Changeling---have you watched that? Amazing house in there as well, though I don't think it's in California) Love that it's virtually unchanged. I would love it even more if you could go in and see a piano downstairs and it would start playing by itself....I'm a dork.

    1. I have not seen The Changeling; there are so few scary movies that I have seen because I am a CHICKEN!!! Wouldn't it be awesome to go inside?!?!!

  4. This an amazing movie with two fascinating women/actresses/larger-than-life egos. I adore horror, grew up watching tons of it and still do :D bwahaha So awesome you got photos in front of the house, it's gorgeous.

    1. I'm glad you're making up for my horror deficit...I'm just too big a baby!