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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Bette Davis

Bette Davis (1908-1989) was an actress known for playing strong, independent women. Her movies include What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?, Jezebel and All About Eve.

Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All about Eve

She was born at 55 Cedar Street, Lowell, Massachusetts on April 5, 1908. Her father was Harlow Morrell Davis, a law student from Augusta, Maine, who became a patent attorney. Her mother was Ruth Augusta "Ruthie" (née Favor), from Tyngsboro, Massachusetts.

Most of her ancestors had lived almost exclusively in New England since moving to the United States in the 1600s.

She was born Ruth Elizabeth Davis, but was known from early childhood as "Betty,"

Betty's parents divorced when she was 10. She and her sister were then raised by their mother.

She attended Cushing Academy, a boarding school in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, She met there her first husband, Harmon O. Nelson, known as "Ham."

In 1926 Davis saw a production of The Wild Duck, with well known Broadway actress Peg Entwistle, which inspired her to seriously pursue acting.

One of her classmates at John Murray Anderson's Dramatic School in New York was Lucille Ball.

Davis turned down the lead in The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart, after hearing it would be shot on location. She told her Warner Bros. boss: "If you can’t shoot the picture in a boat on the back lot, then I’m not interested."

Joan Crawford and Davis had feuded for years. During the making of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), 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.

Bette Davis was often filmed in close-ups that emphasized her distinctive eyes.

Davis was very active in leading Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts due in part that in her childhood she was a decorated Girl Scout.

Bette Davis owned a nightclub in Hollywood for US servicemen and women where everything was free, and other celebrities would regularly volunteer to serve food or perform.

Kim Carnes had an international hit single in 1981 with "Bette Davis Eyes." Bette Davis wrote letters to Carnes and the songwriters to say she was a fan of the song and thank them for making her "a part of modern history." One of the reasons the legendary actress loved the song is that her granddaughter thought her grandmother was "cool" for having a hit song written about her.

Bette Davis died on October 6, 1989, of metastasized breast cancer, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France.

She was interred in Forest Lawn—Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.  On her tombstone is written: "She did it the hard way," an epitaph that she mentioned in her memoir Mother Goddam as having been suggested to her by Joseph L. Mankiewicz shortly after they had filmed All About Eve

When Davis died, her false eyelashes were auctioned off, fetching a price of $600.

Davis was the first person to receive ten Academy Award nominations (winning with Dangerous and Jezebel). She held the record for Oscar nominations until Katharine Hepburn overtook her with twelve.

Sources Wikipedia, Songfacts

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