Davis was born April 5, 1908 in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA. She passed
away from cancer October 6, 1989 in France.
divorced when she was a child and she was raised, along with her sister
by her mother, Ruthie.
attention practically from birth which led to her pursuing a career in
acting. After graduation from Cushing Academy she was refused admittance
to Eva LeGallienne's Manhattan Civic Repertory because she was considered
insincere and frivolous. She enrolled in John Murray Anderson's Dramatic
School and was the star pupil. She was in the off-Broadway "The Earth
Between" (1923). Her Broadway debut in 1929 was in "Broken Dishes"
and she also appeared in "Solid South."
Late in 1930
she was hired by Universal. When she arrived in Hollywood, the studio representative
who went to meet her train left without her because he could find no one
who looked like a movie star. An official at Universal complained she had
"as much sex appeal as Slim Summerville" and her performance
in the movie Bad Sister didn't impress.
In 1932 she
signed a seven year deal with Warner Brothers. She became a star after
her appearance in The Man Who Played God.
her to RKO in 1934 for Of Human Bondage in which she was a smash. She had a significant number of write-in votes for the Best Actress Oscar.
She won Oscars
for Dangerous and Jezebel and fought unsuccessfully with
Warner Brothers to break her contract because she felt she wasn't receiving
the top roles an Oscar winning actress deserved. When she came back after
the lawsuit her roles improved dramatically.
The only role
she didn't get that she wanted in 1939 was Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with
the Wind. Warners wouldn't loan her to David O. Selznick unless he
hired Errol Flynn to play Rhett Butler, which both Selznick and Davis thought
was a terrible choice.
It was rumored
she had numerous affairs, among them George Brent and William Wyler and
four unhappy marriages. She admitted her career always came first.
She made many
successful 40's films, but each picture was weaker than the last and by
the time her Warner Brothers contract had ended in 1949 the movies were
disappointing, such as the unintentionally hilarious Beyond the Forest.
She made a
huge comeback in 1950 when she replaced an ill Claudette Colbert and received
an Oscar nomination for her role in All AboutEve.
in films through the 1950s, but her career came to a standstill and in
1961 she placed a now famous "job wanted" ad in the trade papers.
an Oscar nomination for her role as a demented former child star in 1962's
What EverHappened to Baby Jane? whichbrought a new
phase of stardom in both movies and television through the 60s and 70s.
In 1977 she
received the AFI's Life Achievement Award and in 1979 she won a Best
Actress Emmy for "Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter."
In 1977-78 she
moved from Connecticut to Los Angeles and filmed a pilot for the series "Hotel", which she called "Brothel." She refused to do the TV series and suffered a stroke during this time.
B.D. Hyman wrote a 1985 "Mommie Dearest" type book "My Mother's
in the later 1980s in films and TV even though a stroke had impaired her appearance and mobility. She wrote "This N That" during her recovery from the stroke.
Her last book was "Bette Davis, The Lonely Life" issued in paperback in 1990.
It included an update from 1962 to 1989. She wrote the last chapter in San
When she passed
away October 6, 1989 in France many of her fans refused to believe she
(1950 - 1960) (divorced) 2 adopted children, Michael & Margo (who was
Sherry (1945 - 1950) (divorced); 1 daughter, Barbara Davis Sherry (B.D.)
(1940 - 1943) (his death)
Nelson (1932 - 1939)
She was 5'
3 1/2" tall.
was her classmate at John Murray Anderson's Dramatic School
In the 1950's
she suffered osteomyelitis of the jaw and had to have part of her jaw removed.
a stroke and a mastectomy in 1983.
and Davis had feuded for years & during the making of What Ever
Happened to Baby Jane? Bette had a Coca-Cola machine installed on the
set due to Joan Crawford's affiliation with Pepsi. (Joan was the widow
of Pepsi's CEO.) Joan got her revenge by putting weights in her pockets
when Davis had to drag Crawford across the floor during certain scenes.
On her tombstone
is written "She did it the hard way".
Lonely Life" (autobiography) issued in paperback
Lonely Life" (autobiography)
'n' That", Bette Davis - 1987
Keeper", B.D. Hyman - 1985
is the Way", B.D. and Jeremy Hyman - 1987
Jezebel", Elizabeth Fuller - 1992
Rita and the Rest of My Life", Gary Merrill
The Life of Bette Davis", Charles Higham - 1981
Davis": A Biography", Barbara Leaming - 1992
Than a Woman", James Spada - 1993
Love to Kiss You...: Conversations with Bette Davis", Whitney Stine
Davis", Roy Moseley - 1989
and Joan; The Divine Feud", Shaun Considine - 1989
of Bette Davis", G. Ringgold, 1966.
Davis Speaks", Boze Hadeleigh
- she's the original good time that was had by all."
you're known in my profession as a monster, you're not a star."
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