Below I’ve transcribed — word for word — a very long excerpt from a page picked at random. Like I said, it’s very long, but you can whizz through it pretty quickly cause it’s some juicy stuff.
Comments have also been made that you treated your brother very badly, and that you were actually cruel to your mother when she lived either near or with you — that she had to use the back entrance and tht she was never allowed to eat with you.
I wonder what kind of demented bastard makes up things like this. Right now I’m so goddam mad — let me think about it. Let’s talk tomorrow.*
I was awake most of the night, thinking about the question that you asked me, and I still can’t come up with good answers. You’ve got to remember who all of us were, at those times, in those positions. I sure as hell remember. How can I forget? I’ve never wanted to talk about these things, but since people want to talk about them, I might as well explain a few facts of life. Goddammit, I don’t think I was ever a bitch in real life, not the way people want to paint me.
Let’s start with Hal, my dear, sweet brother, first. To tell you the truth, I think he was my half-brother; Mother married so many times, and shacked up with so many men in between, I doubt that we were one hundred percent brother and sister. People would look at us, after he came out to Hollywood, and wonder how the hell we could even be related.
He was chronically mean. He was older than I, and as kids he wasn’t just the type of kid that would pull wings off butterflies, he’d pull the arms and legs of my dolls. When my mother needed help in the house, did she ever ask him to do anything? Hell, no! I waited on him hand and foot, and he was one of the big reasons I wanted to get the hell out of the whole situation. Hal was bad news, all the way around. But because he was a boy he was always favored, and it was Lucille who had to do all the dirty work. And you know what happened? As soon as I had a few options renewed at Metro, Hall appeared. One afternoon I came home and found him sitting on my sofa, smoking a cigarette, half-bombed, telling me that since I’d become a movie star he was going to live with me. Like an idiot, I let him stay, but finally I sent for Mother and let those two live together so I could have a place of my own where I could maintain my privacy … and my sanity.
Hal was a louse, an out-and-out bastard. He could charm the skin off a snake, but nothing, not his jobs, not the men and women in his life, lasted long. Liquor, then drugs, and always his distorted ego, took over. I supported that son-of-a-bitch until the day he died. Now, do you call that being cruel and inhuman? At least Norma Shearer’s brother, Douglas, was brilliant and self-sufficient, and made his own career at Metro. But I was stuck with a schmuck. That man — or did he ever become a man — was a monster. God, I hated him.
With my mother it’s a totally different story. I don’t think she really loved me, but when you consider the life she led, what the hell. She married too young and too often. She was a little Swedish girl who wasn’t too bright. All the way along, the wrong men appealed to her, and she worked her ass off, more often supporting them than they supported her. She was old and tired by the time she was 49, and when she came out here at least a few of the fires had been put out, and she could be Hal’s servant and my friend. She was a good woman, even though she ignored me when I was a kid, and she found life a lot easier during her last years. She was very well supported; she liked to slouch around in old housecoats and run-down mules instead of wearing the really nice things I bought her. She was — you might say, intimidated — by my friends, by anyone who was famous and preferred to stay out of the way. It was wonderful, on mornings I didn’t have to go to the studio, to slouch around the place just as sloppy as she was. We weren’t really close — we never had been — but I doubt like hell that I ever mistreated her. I let her live her own lifestyle, and that style included Hal, and I simply wouldn’t have him around, so her loyalties had to have been divided.
*Note: This interview occurred just before the beach scene in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Joan was very uptight — no other word for it. She had a doctor in the morning, a Christian Science practitioner in the afternoon, and vodka all day long. I’d never seen her so distraught, and I seriously wonder if I didn’t ask the wrong question at the wrong time. I’m not happy with her answer; I tried to qualify it later, but she didn’t want to return to the subject. But this is what she said the next day.