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Bette Davis


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Ruth Elizabeth "Bette" Davis (April 5, 1908 – October 6, 1989) was an American actress of film, television and theatre. Noted for her willingness to play unsympathetic characters, she was highly regarded for her performances in a range of film genres; from contemporary crime melodramas to historical and period films and occasional comedies, though her greatest successes were her roles in romantic dramas.

After appearing in Broadway plays, Davis moved to Hollywood in 1930, but her early films for Universal Studios were unsuccessful. She joined Warner Bros. in 1932 and established her career with several critically acclaimed performances. In 1937, she attempted to free herself from her contract and although she lost a well-publicized legal case, it marked the beginning of the most successful period of her career. Until the late 1940s, she was one of American cinema's most celebrated leading ladies, known for her forceful and intense style. Davis gained a reputation as a perfectionist who could be highly combative, and her confrontations with studio executives, film directors and costars were often reported. Her forthright manner, clipped vocal style and ubiquitous cigarette contributed to a public persona which has often been imitated and satirized.

Davis was the co-founder of the Hollywood Canteen, and was the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. During her career she received 10 nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress and won twice, and she was the first woman to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. Her career went through several periods of eclipse, and she admitted that her success had often been at the expense of her personal relationships. Married four times, she was once widowed and thrice divorced, and raised her children as a single parent. Her final years were marred by a long period of ill health, but she continued acting until shortly before her death from breast cancer, with more than 100 film, television and theater roles to her credit. In 1999, Davis was placed second, behind Katharine Hepburn, on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest female stars of all time.

Fast Facts from BetteDavis.com....

Nickname: The Fifth Warner Brother, Fred, The First Lady of American Screen

Birth Date: April 5, 1908

Birth Place: Lowell, Massachusetts

Death Date: October 6, 1989

Death Place: American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France

Burial Location: Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills; Courts of Remembrance, Los Angeles, California

Height: 5'3 ½"

Hair Color: Brown

Eye Color: Blue

Measurements: 34C-21-34 (36C-25-35 in 1940)

Occupation: Actress, author, producer

Nationality: American

Schooling: Attended Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, Massachusetts; Mariarden School of Dancing; studied acting at Robert Milton-John Murray Anderson School of the Theatre, New York.

Famous Tagline/Quote: "Old age is no place for sissies."

Parents: Harlow Morrell Davis and Ruthie Favor Davis

Siblings: Barbara Davis

Children: B.D. (Barbara Davis Sherry) Hyman, Michael Merrill, Margot Merrill Spouse(s): Married Harmon Oscar Nelson (a bandleader), August 18, 1932 (divorced); married Arthur Farnsworth (a businessman), December, 1940 (died, August, 1943); married William Grant Sherry (an artist), November 30, 1945 (divorced); married Gary Merrill (an actor), August, 1950 (divorced);

Broadway Debut: "Broken Dishes" (1929)

Film Debut: "Bad Sister" (1931)

Did You Know?• On her tombstone is written "She did it the hard way."

• Lucille Ball was her classmate at John Murray Anderson's Dramatic School.

• Joan Crawford and Davis had feuded for years and 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.

• Nominated for an amazing 10 Best Actress Oscars She won the Best Actress Oscar twice, for "Dangerous" in 1935 and "Jezebel" in 1938.

• In 1977, Bette was the first woman to receive the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award.

• In 1980, she was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, the Defense Department's highest civilian award, for founding and running the Hollywood Canteen during World War II.

• Her real Christian name was Ruth. The Bette came from Balzac's novel "Cousin Bette."

Academy Awards

In 1962 Bette Davis became the first person to secure ten Academy Award nominations for acting. Since then only four people have equalled or surpassed this figure, Meryl Streep (with fifteen nominations and two wins), Katharine Hepburn (twelve nominations and four wins), Jack Nicholson (twelve nominations and three wins) and Laurence Olivier (ten nominations and one win).[89]

Steven Spielberg purchased Davis's Oscars for Dangerous (1935) and Jezebel (1938) when they were offered for auction for $207,500 and $578,000, respectively, and returned them to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[90][91]

1934: Davis's performance in Of Human Bondage (1934) was widely acclaimed and when she was not nominated for an Academy Award, several influential people mounted a campaign to have her name included. The Academy relaxed its rules for that year only to allow for the consideration of any performer nominated in a write-in vote; therefore, any performance of the year was technically eligible for consideration. Given the well-publicized hoopla, some sources still consider this as a nomination for Davis; however, the Academy does not officially record this as a nomination.[17]

1935: Won for Dangerous

1938: Won for Jezebel

1939: Nominated for Dark Victory

1940: Nominated for The Letter

1941: Nominated for The Little Foxes

1942: Nominated for Now, Voyager

1944: Nominated for Mr. Skeffington

1950: Nominated for All About Eve

1952: Nominated for The Star

1962: Nominated for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?









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