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Bette Davis

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Also Known As: Ruth Elizabeth Davis Died: October 6, 1989
Born: April 5, 1908 Cause of Death: breast cancer
Birth Place: Lowell, Massachusetts, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A strong-willed, independent woman with heavy-cast eyes, clipped New England diction, and distinctive mannerisms, Bette Davis left an indelible - and often parodied - mark on cinema history as being one of Hollywood's most important and decorated actresses. Over the course of her storied career, Davis made some 100 films, for which she received 10 Academy Award nominations, and twice won the Best Actress trophy. But her sometimes over-the-top affectations - which no doubt made her a gay subculture icon - hindered her career despite the enormity of her talents. Not a glamorous star, Davis went through a string of forgettable pictures before tackling the rather unsympathetic Mildred in "Of Human Bondage" (1934), which turned her into a star and earned the actress her first Oscar nomination. She won the Academy Award the following year for "Dangerous" (1935) and later earned her second statue for one of her most famous performances in "Jezebel" (1938). By this time, Davis was a big star and went on to a series of box office hits like "Dark Victory" (1939) and "Now, Voyager" (1942). But after the personal tragedy of losing her husband, Arthur Farnsworth, Davis went into serious professional decline,...

A strong-willed, independent woman with heavy-cast eyes, clipped New England diction, and distinctive mannerisms, Bette Davis left an indelible - and often parodied - mark on cinema history as being one of Hollywood's most important and decorated actresses. Over the course of her storied career, Davis made some 100 films, for which she received 10 Academy Award nominations, and twice won the Best Actress trophy. But her sometimes over-the-top affectations - which no doubt made her a gay subculture icon - hindered her career despite the enormity of her talents. Not a glamorous star, Davis went through a string of forgettable pictures before tackling the rather unsympathetic Mildred in "Of Human Bondage" (1934), which turned her into a star and earned the actress her first Oscar nomination. She won the Academy Award the following year for "Dangerous" (1935) and later earned her second statue for one of her most famous performances in "Jezebel" (1938). By this time, Davis was a big star and went on to a series of box office hits like "Dark Victory" (1939) and "Now, Voyager" (1942). But after the personal tragedy of losing her husband, Arthur Farnsworth, Davis went into serious professional decline, only to resurrect herself with a delectably over-the-top performance in "All About Eve" (1950). Her resurgence was brief, however, as Davis once again was forced to accept a number of mediocre films while going through a number of personal travails. After emerging one last time with her Oscar-nominated turn in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962), Davis settled into a succession of film and television roles that culminated with her last acclaimed performance in "The Whales of August" (1987). Passing just two years later, Davis was remembered as one of Hollywood's greatest actresses, a legacy forged by an iron will to go her own way.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Wicked Stepmother (1989) Miranda
2.
 Whales of August, The (1987) Libby Strong
3.
 As Summers Die (1986) Hannah Loftin
4.
 Agatha Christie's Murder With Mirrors (1985) Carrie Louise Serrocold
5.
6.
 Hotel (1983) Mrs Trent
7.
 Going Hollywood: The War Years (1983) Herself (Archival Footage)
8.
 Right of Way (1983) Mini Dwyer
9.
 Piano For Mrs. Cimino (1982) Esther Cimino
10.
 Skyward (1980) Billie Dupree
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1928:
Stage debut with Provincetown Players
1929:
Broadway debut in "Broken Dishes"
1931:
Film acting debut in "The Bad Sister"
1934:
Lobbied for home studio Warner Brothers to lend her to RKO for the breakthrough role of Mildred in "Of Human Bondage", an adaptation of the Somerset Maugham novel
1936:
Became involved in court case with Warner Brothers because she protested the poor roles she had been given and traveled to England, making a preliminary commitment to act in a British film; eventually lost the case
:
Appeared on the exhibitors' poll of top ten boxoffice stars in 1939 and 1940
1949:
Career fading; obtained released from her contract at Warner Brothers
1950:
Notable career comeback as Margo Channing in "All About Eve"
:
Placed an ad in "Variety" in the early 1960s noting that she was available for work
1962:
Career again revived with starring role opposite Joan Crawford in the horror film, "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"
1989:
Last film, "Wicked Stepmother"
1989:
Honored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Cushing Academy: Ashburnham , Massachusetts -
Mariarden School of Dancing: -
John Murray Anderson's Drama School: New York , New York -

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Harmon Oscar Nelson Jr. Musician. Married August 18, 1932, divorced 1936.
companion:
William Wyler. Director.
husband:
Arthur Farnsworth. Aircraft engineer. Married December 1940 until his death August 25, 1943.
husband:
William Grant Sherry. Married November 30, 1945; one child, Barbara Davis.
husband:
Gary Merrill. Married 1950-60; adopted children, Margot and Michael.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Ruth Davis.
father:
Harlow Morell Davis.
daughter:
Margot Merrill. Adopted; retarded; adoptive father Gary Merrill.
son:
Michael Merrill. Adopted; adoptive father Gary Merrill.
daughter:
B D Hyman. Author. Father William Grant Sherry; wrote biography "My Mother's Keeper".
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Lonely Life"
"Mother Goddamn: The Story of the Career of Bette Davis"
"This 'N That"
"Fasten Your Seat Belts: The Passionate Life of Bette Davis" William Morrow
"The Lonely Life" Berkley Books
"Me and Jezebel"
"Bette Davis Speaks" Barricade Books
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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