Villain From Canvas That We Loved
Bette Davis is an American theater, film and television actress, though she died more than 20 years ago, she still leaves us breathless. Bette Davis and Katherine Hapburn had been declared the best Hollywood actresses ever. Bette was an actress which was equally admired by the men and women around the world. She has set a certain standard in acting that other actors are not yet managed to overcome. She starred in more than one hundred films and each of her role was very noticeable. There are many things that sets her apart from other actresses. Bette Davis was not a classic Hollywood beauty, and she even herself said she was very ugly and that the filmmakers tried hard make her beautiful, as she was. Her attributes were not long lashes, poutting her mouth and showing breasts. She attracted attention with her monstrously great charisma and talent. Today, many consider her as the most talented actress ever. Bette Davis was in fact an actress who gained popularity by playing negative characters, guile, psychopaths, and many would now say she was the first “bit*h”, which appeared on the big screen.
Above all, her physical appearance caused the admiration of the people. She had a very large blue eyes, which many say that were the most beautiful eyes of Hollywood, long brownish-reddish hair, freckles on the small nose, rough hoarse voice, and of course cigarettes, which she was eternally protruding from her mouth. Bette Davis was the first actor that lit a cigarette on film, and otherwise, in private life many say that between her fingers or corner of her lips she always had a cigarette. Many remember her by her sophisticated way of holding cigarettes. She was also an actress with very sharp tongue. She always said and commented outspoken. She was the first person that swore on film, but she hasn’t even refrained from swearing in public and TV or radio show. She almost always played the gossipy guile that chopps everyone with her vocabulary, whom she came across. Her experts have said that she was very warlike, who stood up to anyone, even the biggest and most powerful directors.
During the forties and fifties, Bette was the most powerful and highest paid American actress. She was so influential that she easily changed the decisions of the director, redesigning his texts, played a role as she imagined it, not how others say it. Directors were all silent so she wouldn’t go from shooting, because having Bette Davis in a film was a privilege, and no one wanted to oppose it. She was a lot talented actress and everyone loved her, no matter what she played: guile or psychopath. Nobody knew to fake it like she did. Even the slogan that has promoted one of Bette’s film was: “Who is better than evil Betty?”. Bette Davis was the first president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she has been awarded with an Oscar twice, the first actress to receive a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute and the first actor to be nominated for ten Oscars.
She was born as Ruth Elizabeth Davis on 5th of April, 1908. In Louevlu, Massachusetts. She had a sister Barbara, with whom she was very close and inseparable until Barbara’s death. In 1915 parents of Bette and Barbara divorced, and two of them with their mother lived in a few places before they left to New York where Bette began to think about acting. Bette wished to be an actress when she saw Rudolph Valentino in the film, and decided that if she ever become an actress that she will be called Bette and not Ruth Elizabeth. She enters the Cushing Academy in New York and in addition attends many schools of acting, dancing, singing… She was not very successful at the beginning of her career. As far as she was later powerful and a great actress at the beginning she wasn’t so lucky. At the audition they refused her, saying that she is dishonest, irresponsible and even ugly. In the second half of her twenties she gained permanent engagements in the theaters but she wasn’t particularly impressing the audience. The directors were not very happy with it. But at the end of the twenties she was spotted by one of the agents from Universal Studio in Hollywood and called for a trial recording. The actress herself later laughed about the situation when she was at the station in Los Angeles waiting for agent who went past her and went into the studio and said that there was no one who resembles the actress, since she was very thin and not very pretty.
At the beginning, she had no success, she appeared in many films that were not successful, she was almost at the dismissal and people in the Universal Studio underestimated her acting abilities. But just at that fateful moment she was given a role in “The Man Who Played God”, which received great reviews. She was observed from other studio, “Warner Brothers” and they offered her a five-year contract, which she of course accepted. And there begins her successful film career. Her very successful first film, in which she has proved herself as a great dramatic actress, was “Human Bondage” (1934) and since then Bette was always more successful. At the time, actresses were largely avoided acting evil women or women with low moral, but that wasn’t a problem for Bette Davis. She accepted the role of guile or a psychopath and she represented them in a great way, so she is remembered as the most talented actresses of that period.
Bette Davis was completely ahead of her time. Dressed pants in public, smoked cigarettes, advertised alcohol, swore… one columnist, once made a joke and said that if Betty lived two hundred years ago, she would have been burned at the stake as a witch. Her way of acting has impressed audiences around the world. She won two Oscars for the film “Dangerous” (1935) and “Jazabel” (1938). Although many think that she was supposed to receive an Oscar for the film “All about Eve” and “Whatever happened to Baby Jane?” and that just by being only nominated, this actress in some way was damaged and that isn’t fair. During the thirties and early forties she became highest paid actress and many directors fought over her. But her career slowly began to fade in her late forties. But what’s characteristic for Bette, is that whenever her career was threatened, she just discovered the roles that returned her to the top. So it was with the film “All about Eve” in which she played the main character Margo. Many are saying that this is her best movie ever. This film helped her to get back to the top. During the fifties she played many interesting roles, in the late fifties, however, her career begins to fade again, but Beete of course, finds a way to survive.
In early sixties her horror phase begins, in which she plays psychopaths and evil women who do not hesitate to do the worst things and hurt others. Her best-known horrors are “Whatever happened to Baby Jane?” (1962), “Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte” (1964), “The Nanny” (1965), “Dead Ringer” (1964)… Acting in these movies strengthened her on the throne as the most talented Hollywood actress. Bette Davis will always be different from others because she didn’t hesitate to act ugly, evil, immoral people, she was about to be completely transformed in order to play the role better, while her fellow actresses raced to win a greater seducing role and who will be more beautiful in the film. Her film “Whatever happened to Baby Jane?”, despite the good acting of actors and the film’s plot, will be remembered for the scandals that took place between the two main actresses. The film starred Bette Davis with Joan Crawford, which she normally hated, and the hatred originated decades ago. The two of them didn’t love each other, for unknown reasons. Joan Crawford had previously stated that she could not believe that anyone could build a career based on big googlie eyes, while Bette Davis said that Joan Crawford was a prostitute who slept with all the actors from Hollywood except Lesie. Their disagreements were continued during the filming as well.
In one scene when Baby Jane (Bette) should kick Blanche (Joan) in the head, there are stories that Bette Davis really kicked Joan in the head, which of course was supposed to act out. And Joan also, in the one scene where Bette is supposed to carry her, deliberately hindered Bette because she knew that she has back problems, so during the filming of that scene Bette injured her back. Skirmishes continued. Many who were present on the set, today talk that Bette even shortened the text of Joan in the film so she can completely put her into the background. Are these all the gossip or truth? We don’t know. Discussion Between this two divas will continue in the next film “Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte” whose director is imagined the two main character from the movie “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” again acting together. Joan Crawford filmed the first few scenes, and then suddenly withdrew from the film reportedly due to illness, but many in fact think that Bette Davis influenced that Joan was thrown out from the film. There is much speculation to why the two of them hated each other so much, from the stories that Joan took over a man that Bette loved, to stories that Joan was even in love with Bette, because Joan was known for her lesbian relationships with other actresses.
Of course all these scandals and disagreements fall into the shadows you see all the films. Both divas magnificently put forward this film which many consider as one among the 100 best movies ever made. Bette’s role in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” was nominated for an Oscar but didn’t get it, although many believe it should. Bette Davis filmed literally until the last day. Even later, when she had a stroke and seized one side of her body, she went on to record and to receive praise for her excellent work. Her second to last film was “The Whales of August,” which received great reviews. In this film she played next to, also aging film legend Lillian Gish. In 1989, she’s making her last film “Wicked Stepmother”, starring Miranda Pierpoint. She died on 6th of October 1989 in Paris.
There are many things that bind us to this beautiful and talented lady. First of all, the name Oskar. Believe it or not, unofficially she was godfather to this award. When she received the statuette (Oscar), she joked that the statue resembles her husband whose middle name is Oscar and she called the statue Oscar. After that, many in the room begin to call him Oscar, so that award officially received the name Oscar. Bette Davis is backed by four marriages and three children. Especially at the end of her life, Bette Davis experienced a difficult time when her daughter Bidi wrote a book in which she wrote many bad things about her mother. “It was a page of broken heart”, said Robert Wagner, her great friend. Those were difficult times for Bette. As evidence of how much they admired her, younger and older people is a song “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes, that song and was the biggest musical hit in 1981.
There are many sentences uttered by Bette Davis that are quoted to this very day. The most famous sentence from the movie “All about Eve” was: “Fasten your seat belts it’s going to be a bumpy night“. Her most famous statements were given during the interviews “I’m just too much”, “Hollywood always wanted me to be pretty, but I fought for realism” and “I work to stay alive”.
Also there is a famous sentence from Bette Davis addressed to her rival Joan Crawford. When she was asked how can she play a bit*h so good, Bette Davis said, “Why am I so good at playing bitc**s? I think it’s because I’m not a bit*h. Maybe that’s why Miss Crawford always plays ladies”. The rivalry between these two divas lasted as long as they were both breathing.
Of course we will not remember Bette only for her selfish behavior and her conflicts with almost all the actors with whom she was filming, but also for her charity and her struggle against Nazis and raising the morale of American soldiers. She used her influence, and from one old and dilapidated restaurant for the soldiers, she turned into an exclusive and attractive restaurant “Hollywood Canteen”, in which the famous Hollywood actors were working in the kitchen and serve soldiers during the World War Two. Bette brought in every night a well-known actors who would be at the service of soldiers. Later she made a film “Hollywood Canteen” in which she played herself. In 1980 she received a medal for assisting soldiers and people during the war. All this shows how, in addition to being sometimes selfish, arrogant, chatty and she was a great woman as well. In her late forties she even dared to do what no one of her colleagues dared to do, she terminated all contracts with studio and become an independent artist who earned from part-time jobs. Which was very revolutionary as Bette Davis herself.