Today everyone is a star - they're all billed as 'starring' or 'also starring'. In my day, we earned that recognition.
There was more good acting at Hollywood parties than ever appeared on the screen. To fulfill a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labor, to be given a chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life. The money is the gravy.
Grab a popcorn & Coca Cola for this story...it's a long un! No matter who you are, where you go, or how in tune you are with Hollywood Legends .. there is absolutely NO mistaking the undisputable, unmistakable, Bette 'Blue-eyes' Davis. I'll say straight up - I LOVE this dame! She was a lady first and foremost, but a broad who wouldn't hesitate to say it, if it, was on her mind. She had legs like a lunar lander and at one point, them legs were insured for a cool mill. Another $28,000 .. was chunked down to insure that her waist stayed trim!! It was unheard of at the time. Remember - this was before the days of J-Lo shocked everyone by taking out a multi-million dollar insurance policy on her asshole!! (Stars insure some craazzzy shiznit now-a-days FO SHO!!) Bette Davis was the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice, 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. When she was just starting, spoiled brat Carl Laemmle, JR., made the comment .. "she has about as much sex appeal as Slim Summerville", OOPS! No doubt, in later years, he never muttered THAT again when she became a sex symbol!!
Her fued with fame hag Joan Crawford was famously publicized, and I used to love to read and hear her thoughts on Joan.. For YOUR enjoyment?? Here are some...
'I wouldn't piss on her if she was on fire.'
'She has slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie.'
'Why am I so good at playing bitches? I think it's because I'm not a bitch. Maybe that's why Joan Crawford always plays ladies.'
'You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good - Joan Crawford is dead. GOOOD!'
Probably my favorite.. In 1985, she donated a series of scrapbooks to Boston University Library...amongst them, a photo of Joan Crawford with her teeth blacked out!!!
I love it!! She loathed Joan...but adored her fans!
As obsessed with Hollywood as I was, I first became aware of Bette when I saw the classic film, "Watcher In The Woods." I was 4 years old, and it freaked my shit OUT! At the time it was made, Disney was known for their animation. It was Disney's first venture into mystery .. and what a BRILLIANT classic it has become. If you haven't seen it - I wholeheartedly recommend it. Especially if you like horror / suspense / mystery type films. No matter how old I get, or how many times I watch - it ALWAYS keeps me on edge and freaky-deaked to the peak! Here is a looksie at the trailer...
In the 1980's, a singer named Kim Carnes .. tributed Bette with a song about her 'blue-eyes.'..called 'Bette Davis Eyes.' Bette was admittedly a fan of the song, as was her young granddaughter.. she purportedly sent Kim Carnes a two page thank you letter. The song was a number one hit in 31 countries, making Bette a star all over again, and her granddaughter, no doubt, a pimp within her school. Now - thanks to w , you can see the Kim Carnes video in full!!
Bette entered the world as Ruth Elizabeth Davis on April 5th, 1908, in Lowell, Massachusetts. Known as simply 'Betty' by friends (Ms. Davis if ya nasty.) She later changed 'Betty,' to 'Bette,' after Honoré de Balzac's, 'La Cousine Bette.' (GREAT classic film btw, if you haven't seen it!!!) From the earliest stages, Bette demanded attention from the getgo (physically and naturally.) She loved to perform!! Her childhood was rocked and riddled by feuding parents. According to Bette, whereas most kids sit down to a nice family dinner together .. her family dinner might consist of a parental show of food throwing, or dodging utensils coming her father's way at the table. By age 10, her parents had divorced and things were going smoother for young Bette. She continued to take interest in plays and performances around Lowell, Massachusetts...and in neighboring towns. Upon turning 18 - Bette moved on to the bright lights of NYC. There she got work as a photog assistant for a portrait company. It was in NYC, she saw a Rudolph Valentino in "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." According to Bette herself ..it was after seeing the film, she knew she wanted to be an actress. A week after, she went and saw SWEET Mary Pickford in 'Little Lord Fauntleroy.' (ALSO a great film!!) After seeing that film, she knew she HAD to be an actress. She applied at Eva LeGallienne's Manhattan Civic Repertory, but was rejected by LeGallienne. Don't you just love turds who reject folks because they can - then the person rejected gets rich and famous. I love to namedrop on them .. if nothing else to say -"HA HA.. YOU WERE WRONG BIOCH!" Anyway.. She joined George Cukor's stock theater company, then John Murray Anderson's Dramatic School in New York (John was an turd as well!! While he DID do something right by bringing Bette on board his school.. He totally screwed it up by sending a young actress home because he thought she was too shy! The actress turned out to be the LOVELY Lucille Ball!! So for that, i'll just state the painfully obvious.. JOHN - YOUR A TURD!!!).. After a lil schooling.. Bette was fastly accepted into Broadway. It was a stepping stone.. One move closer to acting in cinema.
In 1930, encouraged by her mom, Bette moved to Hollywood in order to find work there as a live performer. She was accompanied by her mom who had always wanted to be an actress! No doubt, her mom was pure awesomeness!! Not enough moms give support to siblings wanting to go in the bizz anymore!! She landed a gig at Universal, but to an unreceptive tune. She was loaned out for two films to Columbia Pictures. She fell in love with the camera (as you do), and found paydirt at Warner Bros. in 1932. From the getgo at Warner, she was propelled to success. Audiences loved the 'blue-eyed-legs-like-a-lunar-lander-bucksome-beaute!' Her success at Warner, made her want to pursue other avenues - which she set out to do - oblivious to the fact that she was under contract. Warner Bros. was/STILL is among the biggest studios in town, and while other studios were interested... it was a no-go deal until she was out of the contract at Warner. She fought to get out of the contract - but lost. Obviously having to swallow a LARGE hairball of pride, she worked out the duration of her Warner contract... In the process, making her stamp in American cinema history!! To say she took off like a 'rocket-to-space.'... Would be a major understatement!! When not shooting a film... she escaped to the tranquility of this shack in New Hampshire. She said in several interviews how much she loved it!! (BIG THANKS to hollywoodlegends.net friend Meg, for snapping the shot!!)
The 40's were filled with sadness, YET triumph for Bette. In 1942, Bette and Bette's 'lunar-lander' legs joined the 'sell-the-war bonds' train. It must've moved her deeply because her choice of films in the early 40's, were war related. (WAR - huuahh! GOOD GOD Y'ALL!!).. You know the rest of the song! 👍 I want to assert here - I side with Abe Lincoln when it comes to war. "War is hell...but inevitable to maintain the independence the naysayers so often take for granted. War is how we gained the right to protest what we will...for it is a free country...war is what will ultimately keep us America a free country." Howevvvver, in quoting Lincoln & saying that, I think that he would even agree - some wars we have had NO business in AT ALL!) Annyhoo - she had a hit song.. "They're Either Too Young or Too Old" (good), August 1943, Davis's husband, Arthur Farnsworth, collapsed while walking along a Hollywood street, and died two days later of a skull fracture sustained weeks earlier. BAAAD!! The courts said ...'hmmmmmmmmm.' Bette said "I didn't do it." Case is ruled 'accidental.' Oh SNAP! (On a side note & to keep in mind - assistants who worked for Bette, have testified she would pick things up and throw them when she became upset. Props, telefonos ('ello ello), canes, alarm clocks, and once, a glass award she had won. (no word on which award.) My guess in the case of the hubby is...Bette got pissed, picks object up and throws, hubby then - forgets the normal SWOOP and DUCK! **BAMM**...& oops! Cracked cranium! O'course that is just my guess.)
**DISCLAIMER - This is IMO = IN MY OPINION.. (I feel I must also proclaim I am well equipped with a delete button for those who send me emails name-calling and saying I called that-a-fact!!) Anyhoo...
Her behavior became erratic on the set of the film she was filming after the death of hubby. She would frequently confuzzle other actors by ad-libbing or adding to the script, she also demanded that sets, be re-done, and refused to shoot certain scenes. Had I had been her co-star? I'd have walked out - pride and finger held HIGH! Later, in her elder years, she explained her actions..."When I was most unhappy I lashed out rather than whined" (#EXPLAINED!!) Why is it, as humans, we calm down and get smarter the older we get in life?? Hince the old adage -"young and stupid." Blaah! Blaah! Blah!
In 1945 .. she re-married an artist named William Grant Sherry (BRAVE man), who swore he'd never heard of her,(red light) and said he wasn't intimidated by her (CODE RED SIRENS...SHOULDA RAN, BETTE, RAN like Forrest!!) 👍 in 1950..DIVORCE! In 1949, she negotiated a four-film contract with Warner Bros. which shelled out $10,285 per week - making Bette the highest-paid woman in the United States. While she was the highest paid.. she was also made to do whatever Mister Jack-ass Warner told her to do. This was a bad move IMO. Anyone who knows how the bizz works, know that celebs EARN what they make. Folks that say actors and actress' earn too much - do not know how the process works. Basically - when shooting a film .. celebs must be 'on location' (wherever this might be, even if it's in the studio), at the pre-crack of dawn. Makeup generally takes about 30 mins to an hour. They then film until dusk. At the times the script calls for night shots .. it's the opposite! Celebs are on set at the break of dusk .. and film through dawn. Sometimes 7 days a week .. 2 months straight, no days off. When they aren't shooting, the high amount of money .. gets them through till their next film. There is alot extra - but they work for it. I challenge you to find any doctor, lawyer, or any CEO of a company that keeps those kind of hours to earn their living. According to Inside Edition, those long hours are the number one strain on Hollywood marriages!! Back to Bette tho --
Few of Bette's films of the 1950s were successful BUT many of her performances were squashed by critics. (UGGGHHH CRITICS!! I HATE CRITICS!! THEY WILL NEVER BE RE-QUOTED HERE ... since most are Hollywood rejects! Really - does anyone listen to them?? ANYONE with ANY success would agree! There will ALWAYS be someone out there ready to offer their stanky opine.. I always steered clear of Siskel and Ebert's film picks!!) According to Bette, in 1962, with her popularity in the toilet .. she took an ad out in Variety Magazine stating .. "Mother of three - 10, 11 & 15 - divorcee. & American. Thirty years experience as an actress in Motion Pictures. Mobile still, and more affable than rumor would have it. Wants steady employment in Hollywood. (Has conquered Broadway)." (Atta gal!!) Bette said that she intended it as a joke, but it got the phone ringing. The ad was the result of a massive comeback for Bette!! From the mid-60's on .. her career was FABulous from all standards. (If anyone knows of a film she did after 65 that ranked tanked... let me know.. You won't find it!) I'm fairly sure after 65 - she was on a ticket-to-ride. She was a freelancer, and said to have walked off with, in Jack Warner's words, "her goddamned nose in the air thinking she was hot shit!!" OOOoohhh .. what I would have given to be a fly on the wall on THAT ONE!! I LOVE IT!!
The coming years would produce success after success. She developed a HARD cult-like following, and to many, was THE QUEEN of Hollywood!! She not only did work in movies, but for NBC as well. In 1981 - Bette became known to a younger generation of fans (as posted early on) with the mega hit song by Kim Carnes .. 'Bette Davis Eyes.' POOF - PRE-TEENS .. were keeping her films constantly rented at the video store. I know because I was one of 'em!! 😉) T-Shirts, keychains, mugs, locker posters (remember those?), magnets .. I could go on and on. If there were TWO things I remember most about being a pre-teen .. it was the Jacko ensemble (zippered jacket with glove), Bette Davis memorabilia, and the Pee Wee Herman dolls. And, I had 'em all by gosh!! HELL YES!! The 80's were an AWESOME time to hit puberty! Yessirormaamasacasemaybe!! Back to Bette's song though .. I have never seen any song in history garner so much money off an actor!!
In the late 1970's - she moved here to this West Hollywood apartment. Word to the wise, the property owners are none to happy with simple folk on the property with cameras!! FO SHO! Just a warning - case you wanna go check it out & walk through the gate Bette walked through to go/get hume every day!!
Sadly, in 1983 .. Bette contracted breast cancer. The breast cancer surgery caused the image conscious Bette tremendous stress. Stress that led to 4 back to back strokes in one year, that left her paralysis in the left side of her face, and arm. With the help of an assistant, she made a partial recovery from it. During her recovery, her daughter, BD Hyman, became a born-again Christian and tried getting Bette to become one too. This would be the start of their rocky downfall. Upon the partial-recovery... she flew to the U.K. to film an up and coming Agatha Christie mystery ep.. 'Murder with Mirrors.' Upon Bette's return - she learned that her daughter had written a book about Bette's skills as a mother, and said she'd adopted those skills with her own kids. Harmless enough, right?? What pissed Bette off so was the fact that her daughter took so many things completely out of context in the book. Bette countered by writing an autobiography .. (as you do.)
In it, Bette wrote... "I am still recovering from the fact that a child of mine would write about me behind my back, to say nothing about the kind of book it is. I will never recover as completely from BD's book as I have from the stroke. Both were shattering experiences." She continued at the end of the book in a letter to her daughter... "You have a glaring lack of loyalty and thanks for the very privileged life I feel you have been given." In reference to the title of her daughter's book, and emulating, I'm sure, the fact she had recently just saved her daughters home from being repoed.. "If it refers to money, if my memory serves me right, I've been your keeper all these many years. I am continuing to do so, as my name has made your book about me a success." Which, IMO, was a bit unnecessary - especially considering the book her daughter wrote was COMPLIMENTING Bette!! But nonetheless - it was TRUE Bette, & I am sure her daughter knew it! Bette never got over her daughter writing such things about her and ultimately, disowned her. IMO, THAT was a bit extreme!! (👎 Bette.. 👎 Bette!)
Throughout the continuum of the 1980's, she played in bit parts, lead parts (such as my fave.."Watcher In The Woods"), made appearances on NBC, and cameos as her schedule and health would allow. In 1989, she learned that her cancer had returned. She accepted a lifetime achievement award at San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain. In her acceptance speech, she stated .. In TRUE Bette fashion... "If they'd waited any longer to give me this award, I wouldn't be here to receive it" According to the site this one was derived after, findadeath.com, ran by my buddy, Scott - In 1987, she was asked about the prospect of her own death. She replied, "It should be something sudden. I don't want anyone sending money to any little charity instead of flowers. I want millions of flowers…I want everyone to weep. Copiously". In response to THAT .. I gotta say that NOT EVEN today in Hollywood, would you find an actress with the tits to say that!! Bette was ONE OF HER OWN KIND!! So sweet to her fans .. but if you were a rival actress, studio head that rubbed her wrong, or her backstabbing daughter...then watch out!! Hell hath no fury like Bette!!
After attending and accepting her lifetime achievement award .. she had planned to return home to the U.S. the same night as the awards, but upon getting in the car to leave, became too weak to even sit up. She was rushed to "The American Hospital in Paris." By the time they reached the hospital .. Bette was near unconsciousness ... she was rushed in and hooked up to the appropriate machinery - however, it was too late. Bette passed away from this evil world.. What I am sure she would give now, to have LISTENED to her daughter!! She could not be revived. The date was October 6th, 1989. The world mourned! Thanks to hollywoodlegends.net friend Kerry for the photo of the hospital, and the pic of his new nephew... doing his thang!! You hafta KNOW Kerry, to know his humor!!
Sweet Bette! She coulda been 150 and it still would have been too soon!! Don't it always seem to go .. that you don't know what you got 'till it's gone!! Read Bette's full death story at my buddy Scott's findadeath.com. (**WARNING**.. the site is addicting!) Virtually visit her grave here and leave your virtual non-wilting flowers, and comments for this gem.
RIP BETTE!! You...are truely among the FIRST of Hollywood Legends!! You inspire many!! Often imitated but NEVER duplicated!! Much love!! ~ LOVE, Tony Nudo
A HORRID silicone repo of Bette as 'Baby Jane.' (You've been warned, mmhmm!)
Wanna see Bette's star??