Famous catfights of the 1950s appear in the 1956 film “The Opposite Sex” and in a fifth-season episode of "I Love Lucy" that aired in 1956. Catfights began appearing after World War II as an underground sub-culture of novels, magazines and “stag films,” in which the women wrestled and frequently tore each other’s clothes.Continue Reading
Post-war filmmakers such as Irving Klaw produced film clips of women engaged in catfights and wrestling. Klaw’s films were suggestive but did not depict nudity, and they featured popular models and actresses such as Bettie Page.
The popularity of catfights eventually moved into mainstream culture, as seen in Hollywood films and television series during the 1950s. The 1956 film “The Opposite Sex” is a remake of 1939's "The Women" and features a heavily promoted dressing room catfight between Joan Collins and June Allyson. The remake departs from the original in which the confrontation between Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer over Shearer’s husband remains civil and the jabs remain verbal.
In 1956, MGM promoted its film with a publicity still that recreated the scene in which Allyson slapped Collins so hard that it delayed production. The film also features a catfight between Dolores Grey and Ann Miller.
The fifth season of “I Love Lucy” contains an episode that features a catfight between Lucille Ball and a woman in a grape-stomping bin at an Italian vineyard, in which the women physically slap each other and roll around in the muck. Although it is not as titillating as the films of Klaw and others, it illustrates the growth in popularity of catfights in mainstream American pop culture during the 1950s.Learn more about Modern History