Roman Polanski may have been the new Hollywood sensation in 1967 when Robert Evans, then CEO of Paramount Pictures, offered him to direct Rosemary’s Baby for the studio, but he certainly didn't leave a lasting impression on drama queen Joan Crawford.
Crawford was invited by the film’s producer and friend William Castle to appear in a cameo (he had directed her in Straight-Jacket and I Saw What You Did), along with other Hollywood icon Van Johnson. She was offended by the French-Polish director’s irascible behavior as both Hollywood legends were intended to appear as themselves in a scene in which the title character, portrayed by Mia Farrow, spots them in the lobby of a New York theater during a performance of the musical The Fantasticks. If the gimmick seemed like a good idea to add authenticity to this tale of modern day witchcraft, the whole segment ended up on the cutting room floor.
Already irritated by Mia Farrow's tardiness to the set, Polanski burst into rage when overhearing Van Johnson inquiring 'Who's that, Pinocchio?', referring to the director's protuberant nose. Screaming at everyone in sight ‘'Get off my set, everybody!', the director was then confronted by Joan Crawford responding 'You should learn to have the manners of a William Castle.'
To add irony to the story, Mia Farrow’s stand-in, Rutanya Alda, to whom Joan Crawford immediately introduced herself thinking she was Mia, would end up appearing, more than a decade later, in the Joan Crawford biopic Mommie Dearest (Paramount, 1981).
Even if Crawford and Johnson didn't make it in Rosemary’s Baby, the movie, like the novel it was based upon, still became a best seller.