Bette Davis -- Actress -- Logo

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ImageMap * by Meredy

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Bio & Assorted BD facts

Ruth Elizabeth Davis was born April 5, 1908 in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA. She passed away from cancer October 6, 1989 in France.

Her parents divorced when she was a child and she was raised, along with her sister by her mother, Ruthie.

Bette demanded 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.

Warners loaned 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 About Eve.

She worked 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.

She received an Oscar nomination for her role as a demented former child star in 1962's What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? which brought 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.

Her daughter B.D. Hyman wrote a 1985 "Mommie Dearest" type book "My Mother's Keeper."

She worked 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 Sebastian, Spain.

When she passed away October 6, 1989 in France many of her fans refused to believe she was gone.

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Husbands and Children

Gary Merrill (1950 - 1960) (divorced) 2 adopted children, Michael & Margo (who was severely retarded).

William Grant Sherry (1945 - 1950) (divorced); 1 daughter, Barbara Davis Sherry (B.D.)

Arthur Farnsworth (1940 - 1943) (his death)

Harmon "Ham" Nelson (1932 - 1939)

Trivia

She was 5' 3 1/2" tall.

Lucille Ball 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.

She suffered a stroke and a mastectomy in 1983.

Joan Crawford 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".

Biography (print)

1990, "The Lonely Life" (autobiography) issued in paperback

1962, "The Lonely Life" (autobiography)

1975, "Mother Goddam" (autobiography)

"This 'n' That", Bette Davis - 1987

"My Mother's Keeper", B.D. Hyman - 1985

"Narrow is the Way", B.D. and Jeremy Hyman - 1987

"Me and Jezebel", Elizabeth Fuller - 1992

"Bette, Rita and the Rest of My Life", Gary Merrill

"Bette": The Life of Bette Davis", Charles Higham - 1981

"Bette Davis": A Biography", Barbara Leaming - 1992

"More Than a Woman", James Spada - 1993

"I'd Love to Kiss You...: Conversations with Bette Davis", Whitney Stine - 1990

"Bette Davis", Roy Moseley - 1989

"Bette and Joan; The Divine Feud", Shaun Considine - 1989

"Films of Bette Davis", G. Ringgold, 1966.

"Bette Davis Speaks", Boze Hadeleigh

Personal quotes

"I see - she's the original good time that was had by all."

"Until you're known in my profession as a monster, you're not a star."

Biographical movies

All About Bette (1993) (TV)

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This site is purely a fan tribute to Bette Davis and is not endorsed by her estate.
© Meredy - all rights reserved.
Many thanks to Neil for the numerous BD images and collages :-)

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