Spat’s entertainment: 10 of the best celebrity feuds

From Bette v Joan to Axl v Kurt, these very public rivalries have featured lyrical disses, scuffles and vindictive cakes

Bette Davis v Joan Crawford

In the red corner: Joan Crawford, who put rocks in her pockets in preparation for a scene in which Davis had to drag her across a floor in the film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? In the blue corner: Bette Davis, who said: “[Joan] slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie.” There were no winners in this bitter feud, stoked by an industry that saw women as washed up by 30, but their pranks and putdowns were top-drawer.

Axl Rose v Kurt Cobain

Heavy metal lunkhead locks horns with grunge gloomster, with undignified results. After Nirvana declined to open for Guns N’ Roses on their 1992 tour, a squabble ensued that culminated in a face-off at 1992’s MTV Video Music awards, during which Rose told Cobain to “shut your bitch up”, referring to the latter’s wife, Courtney Love.

AS Byatt v Margaret Drabble

The sibling rivalry between these writers was fostered by their mother, who encouraged them to compete as children. As an adult, Drabble took umbrage at Byatt’s portrayal of warring sisters in The Game, while Byatt sulked at Drabble’s depiction of their mother in The Peppered Moth.

Gossip girls … Sex and the City stars Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Gossip girls … Sex and the City stars Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker. Photograph: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Kim Cattrall v Sarah Jessica Parker

The actors put on brave faces during their Sex and the City years, despite rumours that they were at war, but the cracks have since begun to show. In 2018, following the death of Cattrall’s brother, Jessica Parker sent her condolences, for which she was rewarded with a ferocious dressing down from Cattrall via Instagram. Memes followed, obviously.

Norman Mailer v Gore Vidal

This spat between the US literary giants, prompted by Vidal’s unflattering comments about Mailer’s book The Prisoner of Sex, turned physical when Mailer headbutted Vidal in 1971. Six years later, Mailer lamped him again, prompting Gore’s immortal burn: “As usual, words fail him.”

Cardi B v Nicki Minaj

It began with Minaj liking an Instagram comment that seemed to poke fun at fellow rapper Cardi B, and continued with a series of lyrical disses. Later came a scuffle at a New York fashion week party, when a shoe was thrown and Cardi left sporting a bump on her head.

Laurence Olivier v Marilyn Monroe

All was not well on the set of the 1957 romantic comedy film The Prince and the Showgirl, where Olivier failed to hide his disdain for his co-star, despite acting being his actual job. While Monroe maintained a dignified silence, Olivier said of Monroe: “My hatred for her was one of the strongest emotions I had ever felt.”

Kanye West v Taylor Swift

There has been bad blood between these two ever since West crashed Swift’s acceptance speech at 2009’s MTV Video Music awards. An apology followed, but their ruck was reignited with the song Famous, in which West made disparaging remarks about Swift. Kim Kardashian, wife of Kanye, later claimed that Swift had approved the lyric and called her a snake, an image the singer cannily adopted for her Reputation tour.

Make homes not war … Gwyneth Paltrow and Martha Stewart in happier times.
Make homes not war … Gwyneth Paltrow and Martha Stewart in happier times. Photograph: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Gwyneth Paltrow v Martha Stewart

Rolling pins at dawn! When Stewart – an author, entrepreneur and lifestyle guru – took a potshot at Paltrow for “trying to be Martha Stewart” with her company Goop, the actor didn’t take it lying down. Paltrow subsequently posted a recipe for “jailbird cake” on her website, a not-at-all-veiled reference to Stewart’s five-month stint behind bars in 2004.

Tupac Shakur v Biggie Smalls

The beef between the 90s rappers was sparked when Shakur accused Smalls of organising a shooting at his studio. Various diss tracks followed, including Biggie’s Who Shot Ya? and Tupac’s Hit ’Em Up. Events took a shocking turn when Shakur was shot dead in 1996, and Smalls was shot six months later. Both murders remain unsolved.


Fiona Sturges

The GuardianTramp

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