How to Look Like Baby Jane Hudson from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

August 06, 2021


Bette Davis and Joan Crawford's feud on the set of 1962's Whatever Happened to Baby Jane could be a movie unto itself. Their purported beef was the stuff of Hollywood legend, escalating into a cringeworthy night at the Academy Awards that saw Crawford accepting an Oscar that was not hers, allegedly just to spite Davis. The villain narratives fabricated by Hollywood rags against the two actresses, who had been nothing but consummate professionals during filming, would make their violent characters, Baby Jane and Blanche Hudson, shudder.

But boy did Bette look villainous. Caked to the high heavens with makeup and wearing children's gowns, Davis had the part of an unhinged, washed-out child star down pat.  

Ready to play Baby Jane Hudson? Let's get hagsploitational. 

Baby Jane costume 


To get into the character's frame of mind, Davis played up the ugly. Baby Jane was stuck in the past, and nothing says regressive like adult-size dresses styled for little girls. 

Costume designer Norma Koch won an Oscar for Davis' demented outfits, which included a series of embroidered, bibbed, lacy dresses that have made Baby Jane such a memorable character after all these years. (Baby doll dresses have evolved today into boho wear.) 

Baby Jane makeup

It's hard to believe how old was Bette Davis in Baby Jane, given how age-defying Hollywood actresses have become nowadays. She was only 54 years old then.

The wizened Baby Jane Hudson makeup was all Davis' doing and it has since remained one of her greatest works of art. "What I had in mind no professional makeup man would have dared to put on me," said Davis. "One told me he was afraid that if he did what I wanted, he might never work again."

It was not hard to look for inspiration in Tinseltown. Davis paid attention to the appearance of faded stars who resided along Hollywood Boulevard. She even went out on a limb not to wash her face but rather just put on "another layer of makeup each day." 

Here's how your face can get into character as the wilted child starlet. 

Having hard time getting those wrinkles out? Here's how to do old age makeup as Baby Jane.

Baby Jane hair 

Davis tied her Baby Jane hair in ribbons, like the character's prized porcelain doll. But it was a wig, and not just any wig: Crawford had worn the wig, originally long and straight, in an old movie for MGM. Robert Aldrich rediscovered the wig in the studio and tasked hairdresser Peggy Shannon to restyle it with ringlets.

Whatever happened to Baby Jane? To her smile, her golden hair? Why must everything be so unfair? Is there no one left to care?

The answer left unsung, of course, is Hollywood, or all the ageism and sexism that come with it. Combined, those make for a far bigger villain than Jane and Blanche could ever hope to be. 

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