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Bette Davis

Bette Davis

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 Crawford's affiliation with Pepsi (she was the widow of Pepsi's CEO). Joan got her revenge by putting weights in her pockets when Davis had to drag her across the floor during certain scenes.

Bette Davis had been nominated for Best Actress in her film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), which also starring Joan Crawford. If Bette had won, it would have set a record number of wins for an actress. According to the book "Bette & Joan - The Divine Feud" by Shaun Considine, the two had a life long mutual hatred, and a jealous Joan Crawford actively campaigned against Bette Davis for winning Best Actress, and even told Anne Bancroft that if Anne won and was unable to accept the Award, Joan would be happy to accept it on her behalf. According to the book - and this may or may not be 100% true, but it makes a good anecdote - on Oscar night, Bette Davis was standing in the wings of the theatre waiting to hear the name of the winner. When it was announced that Anne Bancroft had won Best Actress for The Miracle Worker (1962), Bette Davis felt an icy hand on her shoulder as Joan Crawford said "Excuse me, I have an Oscar to accept".

According to her August 1982 Playboy Magazine interview, in her youth she posed nude for an artist, who carved a statue of her that was placed in a public spot in Boston, MA. After the interview appeared, Bostonians searched for the statue in vain.

After her first picture, Davis was sitting outside the office of Universal Pictures executive Carl Laemmle Jr. when she overhead him say about her, "She's got as much sex appeal as Slim Summerville. Who wants to get her at the end of the picture?".

After the song "Bette Davis Eyes" became a hit single, she wrote letters to singer Kim Carnes and songwriters Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon, asking how they knew so much about her. One of the reasons Davis loved the song is that her granddaughter heard it and thought it "cool" that her grandmother had a hit song written about her.



Attended Cushing Academy; a prep school in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. An award in her namesake is given annually to one male and one female scholar-athlete of exceptional accomplishment in both fields.

Attended Northfield Mt. Hermon high school.

Became pregnant by first husband Harmon Nelson in 1933 and 1936, by her lover William Wyler in 1940, and by her second husband Arthur Farnsworth in 1941, 1942 and 1943. On all of these occasions she had abortions.

Bette Davis was the co-founder of the Hollywood Canteen, and was the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Bette Davis was the first person to accrue 10 Academy Award nominations for acting, and was the first woman to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute.

Betty Davis was inspired to become an actress after seeing Rudolph Valentino in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) and Mary Pickford in Little Lord Fauntleroy (1921), and changed the spelling of her name to "Bette" after Honore de Balzac's La Cousine Bette. She received encouragement from her mother, who had aspired to become an actress.

Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 232-235. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.

Campaigned for the part of Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) but Elizabeth Taylor, who went on to win a Best Actress Oscar for her performance, was cast instead.

Campaigned for the role of Ellie Andrews in It Happened One Night (1934), but the part was eventually given to Claudette Colbert, who went on to win a Best Actress Oscar for her performance.

Declined a role in 4 for Texas (1963) (which turned out to be a big hit) to do Dead Ringer (1964) (which turned out to be a big flop).

Described the last three decades of her life as a "my macabre period". She hated being alone at night and found growing older "terrifying".

Desperately wanted to win a third Best Actress Oscar for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), as three wins in the leading category was unprecedented (Walter Brennan had won three Oscars, but all of his were in the supporting category). It was the general feeling among Academy voters that while Davis was superb, the movie itself was little better than a potboiler exploitation film, the kind that doesn't deserve the recognition that an Oscar would give it.

Director Steven Spielberg won the Christie's auction of her 1938 Best Actress Oscar for Jezebel (1938) for $578,000. He then gave it to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. [19 July 2001]

During her great film career, she reportedly did not get along with her co-stars Miriam Hopkins, Susan Hayward, Celeste Holm and most infamously Joan Crawford.

During the filming of her next film, Jezebel (1938), Davis entered a relationship with director William Wyler. She later described him as the "love of my life", and said that making the film with him was "the time in my life of my most perfect happiness".

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