Iconic rivalries

Some rivalries fizzle out before the end of high school, while others become legendary feuds that make it into the history books.

1. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford

The rivalry between these two actors is as iconic as the two women themselves, if not more so. The best example of the venom that fuelled the bitter feud occurred during the 1963 Best Actress race at the Oscars. Davis scored a nomination for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, while Crawford, her co-star, was left out in the cold. Determined to see Davis denied the third Oscar she so publically desired, Crawford began campaigning against her, even speaking with the other nominated actors to let them know she would happily accept the award on their behalf should they not wish to attend the ceremony. In the end, Crawford triumphed, in a way, and walked out on stage to accept the Oscar for Anne Bancroft, while Bette Davis seethed backstage.

2. Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla

Two of the most brilliant scientific minds of the 20th century were bitter rivals for much of their professional life. Edison had little formal training, and relied on experimentation to make his discoveries, while Tesla was a trained engineer who could effectively theorise before carrying out his ideas. Edison hired Tesla early on, but the two remained at odds with each other – one of their most famous disagreements being about their respective electricity delivery methods. Tesla’s alternating current (AC) allowed power to periodically change direction, and was more efficient at transferring large quantities to places like cities. Edison’s direct current (DC) was able to maintain a lower voltage at a constant level that was safer for consumers, but severely limited the distance it could travel.

3. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo

It’s difficult to pinpoint the source of the animosity between these two, or at least the dislike Michelangelo had for da Vinci, but it is reported that the two men had a run in that is still talked about today. When passing a group of nobles who were discussing a passage in Dante, da Vinci was asked to explain the passage to the group. Michelangelo happened to be passing at the same time, and when one of the group called out to him, da Vinci reportedly exclaimed, “Michelangelo will be able to tell you what it means.” This, apparently, was the wrong thing to say. Whether Michelangelo thought da Vinci was trying to entrap him, or whether he was just full of hate for his colleague, his reply was pure venom: “No, explain it yourself, horse-modeller that you are, who, unable to cast a statue in bronze, were forced to give up in shame.” Michelangelo then turned on his heel and left.

Which is your favourite historical feud? Let us know in the comments below.