Bette Davis was a true star in every sense – theater, film, and television. She is still one of the greatest actors to make Hollywood proud and one of the most influential of her time. Bette Davis’ birthday is April 05, 1908. She was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, her name at birth was Ruth Elizabeth Davis. It was the separation of her parents that brought her and her siblings to New York from Massachusetts. It was an actress named Peg Entwistle who inspired Bette to become an actress. Despite rejection and failure at the start, Bette quickly skyrocketed in the theater.
Bette Davis’ Hollywood Career
Bette’s start in Hollywood was not pleasant at all. She arrived for her first screen test on a train to find out that no one had come to pick her. Her first test with several men kissing her was another terrifying experience for her. A bad dress choice that she had made attracted really harsh comments from director William Wyler. The first movie she appeared in was Bad Sister in 1931, and the reason for her selection was her eyes. The film wasn’t a hit and the film following it, Seed, did her no favors either.
After failing to become successful at Universal Studios, she appeared in The Menace and Hell’s House for Columbia Pictures and Capital Films respectively. Neither of those films did well either and her contract was nearing termination by Laemmle. Disappointed by all the failures, Bette decided to go back to New York, until George Arliss gave her another shot. It was The Man Who Played God in 1932 that changed the trajectory of her career.
Bette Davis’ Success in Hollywood
The film that proved to be her lifeline was Of Human Bondage. The movie was made in 1932 and Bette’s role was Mildred Rogers, an unkind and vicious lady. Bette picked up this role to show her acting talent while many other actresses had refused to take it up only because it was an unsympathetic role. Her performance as Mildred Rogers was so amazing that some magazines even called it the best performance ever by any female Hollywood actress. In the 1950s, Bette was aging and it seemed that her fame was fading away fast. However, it was All About Eve that brought her fame and magic back to her audience.
All About Eve was another marvel from her amazing performances. The most memorable line from her role in All About Eve to this day is, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” Many movie buffs still go on record to say Bette Davis not winning an Academy Award for the role is one of the greatest upsets in Oscar history. Had she won, it would have been her 3rd Oscar for best actress.
Bette Davis Eyes
If you have ever wondered about this phrase, you should know that it come from Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon who wrote Bette Davis Eyes. The R&B song earned its real fame when Kim Carnes sang it in 1981. It is arguably the best song ever recorded by Kim Carnes and it even earned her a Grammy in 1982. The song describes a female (Bette Davis) who casts a spell on men with her eyes, uses them to her advantage and moves on with her life as if nothing happened.
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford Feud
One of the biggest controversies of Bette Davis’ career is her feud with Joan Crawford, another Hollywood actress that’s considered one of the best to this day. Everything about their lives made them enemies. First, Bette was becoming famous when Joan Crawford was already acting. Bette later became more famous than Joan, so the professional jealousy was there. They both had a crush on the same person, Franchot Tone, but Joan ended up marrying Tone despite Davis’ falling deep in love with him. They both criticized each other’s lives, careers, and even families whenever they had the chance to.
The culmination of this enmity was in the movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Both the actresses acted in the film and did not let any chance go of hurting each other. The film was a huge hit and even collected an Oscar. Bette Davis thought she would win the Oscar but was shocked when Joan Crawford collected the award on behalf of the winner and hurled a nasty remark while passing by Bette Davis.
When asked about her relationship with Joan Crawford, Bette Davis replied, “The best time I ever had with Joan Crawford was when I pushed her down the stairs in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”
When Bette Davis Bids Farewell
A 2014 film titled When Bette Davis Bids Farewell recounted the days before her death. Bette Davis died of cancer on October 6, 1989. She died in France at the age of 81, shortly after attending the San Sebastian film festival. She was buried in Los Angeles at the famous Forrest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Cemetery. Bette Davis is buried with her mom and sister – the quote on her grave, as requested in her will, is “She did it the hard way.”