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Feature: My Momentary Celebrity Obsession – Bette Davis

A fascination with an actress like Bette Davis is far from unique, but nevertheless, I cannot get enough of the essential classic film star as of late. My first exposure to her about five years ago was through the thriller Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte, which I procured for Joseph Cotton‘s participation. The well aged star was such a fright that I instantly ruled Davis out as a horror to watch.

Bette Davis

My perspective was turned around a couple years ago when discovering TCM and a Robert Osborne “Essentials” night devoted to the star. After Jezebel, and Now, Voyager I was thoroughly convinced that indeed, Ms. Davis could be beautiful, nevermind the talent. Films like The Letter and  Dark Victory really showed her rigor as a performer. What I like about Davis is that she seemed thoroughly committed to putting her best work on-screen (even if she was fighting with the studio off-screen) and was less concerned with self promotion, letting her work speak for itself.

A Massachusetts native — born Ruth Elizabeth Davis — who got her start on the stage, Davis had a stellar career with Warner Bros. before going out on her own. She fought for loan outs to other studios and to improve her salary. She married four times, had a daughter and adopted a boy and a girl.

For her 102 films she won two Best Actress Oscars and was the first person to amass 10 nominations. There is no one in contemporary Hollywood who reminds me in the least of Davis. No one since her has really shown the same talent, gusto and lasting impression as Davis. Although her looks did not persist, she made many films later in life including the acclaimed Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? She died from cancer at age 81 in 1989 in France.

Source: Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine

UPDATE: My list of Bette Davis Movies and my accomplishments so far is now available under the “Lists” tab.


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