The 30 Harshest Actor-on-Actor Insults in History


In the current ultra-managed, publicist-controlled, sound-byte-driven media atmosphere, you don’t get to hear stars really speaking their minds anymore — at least, not about anything fun, like how they really feel about their fellow stars. But occasionally a little something sneaks through the PR wall, both now and back in Hollywood’s golden age, sometimes as whispers, sometimes as gossip, sometimes long after the fact. And thus, we present another, long-overdue installment of our ongoing series (following authors, filmmakers, and musicians) of really famous people really cutting each other down.

1. Bette Davis on Joan Crawford: “Joan Crawford — I wouldn’t sit on her toilet!” “I wouldn’t piss on Joan Crawford if she were on fire.” “Joan Crawford — Hollywood’s first case of syphilis.” “She has slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie.” “Why am I so good at playing bitches? I think it’s because I’m not a bitch. Maybe that’s why Miss Crawford always plays ladies.” “You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good… Joan Crawford is dead. Good.”

2. Joan Crawford on Bette Davis: “Bette will play anything, so long as she thinks someone is watching. I’m a little more selective than that.” “She may have more Oscars… she’s also made herself into something of a joke.” “Miss Davis was always partial to covering up her face in motion pictures. She called it ‘art.’ Others might call it camouflage — a cover-up for the absence of any real beauty.” “I don’t hate Bette Davis, even though the press wants me to. I resent her — I don’t see how she built a career out of mannerisms instead of real acting ability. She’s a phony, but I guess the public likes that.”

3. Viven Leigh on Bette Davis (after turning down Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte: “I could almost stand to look at Joan Crawford’s face at 6am, but not Bette Davis.”

4. Barbara Stanwyck on Marilyn Monroe: “Her body has gone to her head.”

5. Bette Davis on Cary Grant: “He needed willowy or boyish girls like Katharine Hepburn to make him look what they now call macho. If I’d co-starred with Grant or if Crawford had, we’d have eaten him for breakfast.”

6. Cary Grant on Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, James Dean: “I have no rapport with the new idols of the screen, and that includes Marlon Brando and his style of Method acting. It certainly includes Montgomery Clift and that God-awful James Dean. Some producer should cast all three of them in the same movie and let them duke it out. When they’ve finished each other off, James Stewart, Spencer Tracy and I will return and start making real movies again like we used to.”

7. Richard Burton on Marlon Brando: “Marlon has yet to learn to speak. He should have been born two generations before and acted in silent films.”

8. Marlon Brando on James Dean: “Mr. Dean appears to be wearing my last year’s wardrobe and using my last year’s talent.”

9. Richard Harris on Michael Caine: “An over-fat, flatulent, 62-year-old windbag. A master of inconsequence masquerading as a guru, passing off his vast limitations as pious virtues.”

10. Rex Harrison on Charlton Heston: “Charlton Heston is good at playing arrogance and ambition. But in the same way that a dwarf is good at being short.”

11. Harrison Ford on Shia LaBeouf: “I think he was a fucking idiot.”

12. Dean Martin on James Stewart: “There’s a statue of Jimmy Stewart in the Hollywood Wax Museum, and the statue talks better than he does.”

13. Sir John Gielgud on Ingrid Bergman: “Dear Ingrid — speaks five languages and can’t act in any of them.”

14. Frank Sinatra on Shelly Winters: “A bowlegged bitch of a Brooklyn blonde.”

15. Shelly Winters on Frank Sinatra: “A skinny, no-talent, stupid Hoboken bastard.”

16. Ava Gardner on Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra: “I always knew Frank would end up in bed with a boy.”

17. Traci Lords on Johnny Depp: “He’s the kind of guy that would be really sweet to a girl and bring her flowers, but still take a pee in the alley.”

18. Bill Murray to Chevy Chase: “Medium talent!”

19. Julia Roberts on Nick Nolte: “A disgusting human being.”

20. Nick Nolte on Julia Roberts: “It’s not nice to call someone ‘disgusting’. But she’s not a nice person. Everyone knows that.”

21. Sharon Stone on Gwyneth Paltrow: “[She’s] very young and lives in rarefied air that’s a little thin. It’s like she’s not getting quite enough oxygen.”

22. Katherine Hepburn on Sharon Stone: “It’s a new low for actresses when you have to wonder what’s between her ears instead of her legs.”

23. Susan Sarandon on Mel Gibson: “Mel Gibson is somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun. He’s beautiful, but only on the outside.”

24. Walter Matthau to Barbara Streisand: “I have more talent in my smallest fart than you have in your entire body.”

25. Elliot Gould on Jerry Lewis: “This arrogant, sour, ceremonial, piously chauvinistic egomaniac.”

26. Graham Chapman on John Travolta: “How difficult can it be to fly an airplane? I mean, John Travolta learned how.”

27. W.C. Fields on Mae West: “A plumber’s idea of Cleopatra.”

28. W.C. Fields on Charlie Chaplin: “He’s a goddamned ballet dancer.”

29. Robert Downey Jr. on Hugh Grant: “A self-important, boring, flash-in-the-pan Brit.”

30. John Wayne on Clark Gable: “Gable’s an idiot. You know why he’s an actor? It’s the only thing he’s smart enough to do.”