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BETTE DAVIS

Bette Davis & Douglas Fairbanks Jr
.
in 1932's thriller "Parachute Jumper". Both Signed
8" x 10" Vintage Photo signed by Both

Biography for
Bette Davis

Nickname
The Fifth Warner Brother
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Height
5' 2"
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Mini biography
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 & 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 the Best Actress Academy Award 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 1950's, 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 60's and 70's. In 1977 she received the AFI's Lifetime 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 1980's 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. 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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IMDb mini-biography by
Meredy <
meredy@meredy.com>
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Mini biography
Her parents divorced when she was young. In her first year of high school she gave up dance for acting. After a little time in John Murray Anderson's acting school she was in the off-Broadway "The Earth Between" (1923). Her Broadway debut in 1929 was in "Broken Dishes". Late in 1930, on a six-month Universal contract, 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. In 1932 she signed a seven-year deal with Warners. She won Oscars for Dangerous (1935) and Jezebel (1938) and fought unsuccessfully to break her contract between awards. She received eight additional Oscar nominations including one for the role of Margo Channing in All About Eve (1950), the role with which she remains most identified. A genuine box-office star in the 1930s and 1940s, all her films from 1953 to 1962 lost money; then What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) brought a new phase of stardom. In 1979 she won a Best Actress Emmy for Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter (1979) (TV) and in 1982 she moved from Connecticut to L.A. to be in the 1982-3 TV series "Hotel" (1983) (illness led to her replacement by Anne Baxter - shades of All About Eve (1950)). She had three children, one of whom was severely retarded. Her daughter B.D. wrote a 1985 scandal/bio "My Mother's Keeper". In 1977 the American Film Institute gave her its Lifetime Achievement Award
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Mini biography
Ruth Elizabeth Davis was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, on April 5, 1908. Her parents divorced when she was young. Her early interests were in dance. To Bette, dancers led a glamorous life but then she discovered the stage. She gave up dancing for acting. To her, it presented much more of a challenge. She studied drama in New York City and made her debut on Broadway in 1929. In 1930, she moved to Hollywood where she hoped things would get better for her in the world of acting. They did, indeed. She would become known as the actress that could play a variety of very strong and complex roles. She was first under contract to Universal Studios where she made her first film called WAY BACK HOME in 1931. After the unsuccessful film, BAD SISTER made the same year, she was fired which was wildly unpopular. She then moved on to Warner Brothers. Her first film with them was SEED made in 1931. More fairly successful movies followed but it was the role of Mildred Rogers in OF HUMAN BONDAGE in 1934 that would give Bette major acclaim from the film critics. Warner Bros. felt their seven year deal with Bette was more than justified. They had a genuine star on their hands. With this success under her belt, she began pushing for stronger and more meaningful roles. In 1935, she received her first Oscar nomination for her role in DANGEROUS as Joyce Heath. In 1936, she was suspended without pay for turning down a role that she deemed unworthy of her talent. She went to England where she had planned to make movies but was stopped by Warner Bros. because she was still under contract to them. They did not want her to work anywhere. Although she sued to get out of her contract, she lost. Still they began to take her more seriously after that. By 1938, Bette received a second Academy nomination for her work in JEZEBEL in a film opposite the, soon to be, legendary Henry Fonda. Bette would receive six more nominations including her role as Margo Channing in ALL ABOUT EVE (1950). While she was a genuine star in the 30's and 40's, the 50's and early 60's saw her in the midst of films which all lost money. Then came WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? in 1962. This brought about a new round of super stardom for generations of fans who were not familiar with her work. Two years later she starred in HUSH, HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE in which she played a deranged, former child actress and a rather spooky one at that. She was very convincing and strange in that role. Bette was married four times, her last to actor Gary Merrill which lasted ten years, longer than any of the previous three. In 1985, her daughter, Barbara Davis Hyman, published a scandalous book about Bette called My Mother's Keeper. Sadly, Bette Davis died on October 6, 1989 of an undisclosed illness.
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IMDb mini-biography by
Denny Jackson
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Spouse
Gary Merrill (1950 - 1960) (divorced)
'William Grant Sherry' (1945 - 1950) (divorced); 1 daughter
'Arthur Farnsworth' (1940 - 1943) (his death)
'Harmon Nelson' (1932 - 1939)
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Trivia

While Bette Davis was the star pupil at John Murray Anderson's Dramatic School in New York, another of her classmates was sent home because she was "too shy." It was pronounced that this girl would never make it as an actress. It was Lucille Ball.

Interment: Forest Lawn (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California, USA. Specific Interment Location: Court of Remembrance.

(October 1997) Ranked #15 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.

In 1952, she was asked to perform in a musical, "Two's Company." After several grueling months at rehearsals, her health deteriorated due to osteomylitis of the jaw and had to leave the show only several weeks after it opened. She was to repeat this process in 1974 when she rehearsed for the musical version of "The Corn Is Green", called "Miss Moffat" but bowed out early in the run of the show for dubious medical reasons.

On her tombstone is written "She did it the hard way".

She suffered a stroke and a mastectomy in 1983.

Attended Northfield Mt Hermon high school

Interred at Forest Lawn (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California, USA, just outside and to the left of the main entrance to the Court of Remembrance.

Mother of 'Barbara Merrill'

Turned down the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind (1939).
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Personal quotes

"I wouldn't piss on her if she was on fire" (in reference to Joan Crawford)

In 1982: "Acting should be bigger than life. Scripts should be bigger than life. It should ALL be bigger than life."

Getting old is not for sissies.

"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."

"At 50, I thought proudly, 'Here we are, half century!' Being 60 was fairly frightening. You want to know how I spent my 70th birthday? I put on a completely black face, a fuzzy black afro wig, wore black clothes, and hung a black wreath on my door."

"In my view, she's one of the all-time great movie stars and actresses. I thought she was a great beauty, too. I just loved her looks. She is still quite a character, very determined and strong, and she refuses to concede an inch. I suppose that is what has kept her alive." - Lauren Bacall

"Bette Davis taught Hollywood to follow an actress instead of the actress following the camera, and she's probably the best movie actress there's ever been." - Elaine Stritch

"I stood by the bed, watching this great actress whose work I so admire, wanting to know how she goes about her art. I was so close to her that she could feel my respect, admiration and expectation." - Olivia de Havilland

On rival Joan Crawford: "She has slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie"

Davis on her character in All About Eve (1950): "Margo Channing was not a bitch. She was an actress who was getting older and was not too happy about it. And why should she? Anyone who says that life begins at forty is full of it. As people get older their bodies begin to decay. They get sick. They forget things. What's good about that?"

"Gay Liberation? I ain't against it, it's just that there's nothing in it for me."

Success only breeds a new goal.
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Salary
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) $25,000 + percentage of gross

Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:
Actress. (b. Apr. 5, 1908, Lowell, Mass., as Ruth Elizabeth Davis; d. Oct. 6, 1989.) Most budding screen actresses might have thrown in the towel if they had been appraised, like Davis was, as having "about as much sex appeal as Slim Summerville." (That from Universal president Carl Laemmle, after seeing her debut performance in 1930's Bad Sister But this feisty, unique star defied her studio critics repeatedly and fooled them all by achieving ever greater success; by the time she died Davis had won a status enjoyed by no other Hollywood actress, and if her struggles took a heavy toll on her personal life, we can at least be grateful that they gave us so many memorable movie moments.

Davis decided that she wanted to be an actress while in high school, and worked in student productions and regional theater. Famed acting teacher Eva Le Gallienne rejected Davis' application to study with her, so the young hopeful went instead to John Murphy Anderson's school. Her early professional career in stock was undistinguished to say the least; director George Cukor fired her from a show in upstate New York. She made her Broadway debut in 1929's "Broken Dishes," and the following year was rebuffed in her first attempt to crash the movies when she got a thumbs-down after screen-testing for Samuel Goldwyn. She was signed by Universal later that year, but her tenure there was brief, with sup porting stints in only a few movies, including Waterloo Bridge (1931).

Davis freelanced briefly (making, among several lackluster movies, a ludicrous 1932 thriller, The Menace for Columbia) before securing a berth at Warner Bros., where she first showed her ability in a meaty supporting role in the George Arliss vehicle The Man Who Played God (1932). Although the studio didn't quite know how to exploit her, she was at least kept busy in a string of program pictures that included Cabin in the Cotton (also 1932, in which, as a spoiled Southern belle, she uttered the immortal line, "Ah'd like ta kiss ya, but ah jest washed mah hayyah!"), The Dark Horse, Three on a Match (both also 1932), 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (with Spencer Tracy), Ex-Lady, The Working Man, Parachute Jumper, Bureau of Missing Persons (all 1933), Fashions of 1934 (a reasonably big musical, albeit one with a thankless part for Davis), The Big Shakedown, Fog Over Frisco and Jimmy the Gent (all 1934, in the lastnamed with James Cagney).

After being loaned out to RKO to play the conniving waitress in John Cromwell's Of Human Bondage (a role for which she actively lobbied), and scoring her first major triumph in the part, Davis intensified her efforts to secure better roles in Warners pictures. Initially she was put off, but finally got a meaty character as the former star rehabilitated by Franchot Tone in Dangerous (1935), which earned Davis her first Academy Award. The studio brass, as much to humble the increasingly difficult star as for any other reason, continued to put her in lame programmers for a time, but eventually bestowed upon her the quality vehicles she richly deserved. (Not, however, before being suedunsuccessfully-by Davis in an attempt to break her contract.)

She snagged Best Actress Oscar nominations five years in a row-for Jezebel (1938, which she won), Dark Victory (1939), The Letter (1940), The Little Foxes (1941), and Now, Voyager (1942)-then earned another in 1944 for Mr. Skeffington She played in both period pictures and contemporary dramas, bringing her own unique passion and charisma to each role while debunking the conventional wisdom that ceded superstar status to more "glamorous" female stars. Her other Warners films included The Petrified Forest (1936), Kid Galahad, Marked Woman, That Certain Woman (all 1937), The Sisters (1938), Juarez, The Old Maid, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (all 1939), All This, and Heaven Too (1940), The Great Lie, The Bride Came C.O.D., The Man Who Came to Dinner (all 1941, taking a supporting role-at her own request-in the last-named, a terrific adaptation of the hilarious George S. Kaufman-Moss Hart play), In This Our Life (1942), Watch on the Rhine, Thank Your Lucky Stars, Old Acquaintance (all 1943), Hollywood Canteen (1944), The Corn Is Green (1945), Deception, A Stolen Life (both 1946), June Bride (1948), and Beyond the Forest (1949, contributing another memorable movie line when, upon entering a shabby house, she says, "What a dump!").

Finally freed from her Warners contract, but with her star somewhat diminished by weaker pictures of the late 1940s, Davis bounced back with the stunning, Oscarnominated characterization of aging actress Margo Channing (who, in a Davis moment that almost descends to selfcaricature, utters the unforgettable "Fasten your selt belts ... it's going to be a bumpy night!") in All About Eve (1950). She played another actress, and received another Oscar nod, in The Star (1952), but her other, relatively few 1950s filmswith the exception of The Virgin Queen (1955) and Storm Center (1956)-were largely undistinguished. In 1961 Frank Capra gave her a scene-stealing character, Apple Annie, in Pocketful of Miracles and she received her last Academy Award nomination as a demented former child star in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962, costarring another legendary Hollywood bitch, Joan Crawford, with whom Davis didn't get along-to put it mildly).

Davis' other 1960s vehicles included The Empty Canvas (1963), Dead Ringer, Where Love Has Gone (both 1964), EB>. Hush, Sweet Charlotte, The Nanny (both 1965), The Anniversary (1968), and Connecting Rooms (1969)-an uninspiring lot, to say the least. While she appeared in Bunny O'Hare (1971), Burnt Offerings (1976), Return From Witch Mountain, Death on the Nile (both 1978), and The Watcher in the Woods (1980), Davis spent most of the remainder of her career on the small screen, working in TV movies of varying quality. She did return to the big screen in Lindsay Anderson's elegiac The Whales of August (1987), which costarred her with another legendary star, Lillian Gish. Davis walked off the set of Wicked Stepmother (1990), a cheesy little horror comedy, but since she had already shot a number of scenes, director Larry Cohen elected to keep her in the final cut. She died shortly after working on the awful film.

Davis' stormy personal life included four unsuccessful marriages, the last to actor Gary Merrill (1950-60), with whom she appeared in All About Eve In 1977, she was the first female recipient of the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award.

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