Following a short theatre career, she became among the greatest stars in the Hollywood studio system, appearing in almost 100 pictures before her departure in 1989. Davis is still considered an icon for her performances in such movies as All Above Eve and Dark Victory, along with for her larger than life character both on and off the silver screen. When she was 7 years old, her father divorced her mother, who had been left to raise Bette and younger daughter Barbara on her very own.
As a teenager, Davis started playing in school productions in the Cushing Academy in Massachusetts. Following a stint in summer stock theater in Rochester, Ny, Davis moved to Nyc, where she attended the John Murray Anderson/Robert Milton School of Theatre and Dance. Lucille Ball was clearly one of her classmates.
Davis started to audition for theatre parts in The Big Apple, as well as in 1929 she made her stage dbut at Greenwich Village’s Provincetown Playhouse in The Earth Between. After that year, in the age of 21, she made her first Broadway appearance in the comedy Broken Dishes.
A screen test got Davis a contract with Hollywood’s Universal Pictures, where she was assigned a modest part in the movie Bad Sister (1931), followed by similar minor parts in a couple more pictures. She moved to Warner Brothers in 1932, after acquiring notice because studio’s production of The Man Who Played God. Following this breakthrough, Davis would go on to make 14 pictures during the following 36 months.
In 1934, Warner Brothers loaned Davis to RKO Pictures for Of Human Bondage, a play centered on a novel by W. Somerset Maugham. Davis received her first Academy Award nomination for her performance as the vulgar, cold hearted server Mildred. Through the remainder of her profession, she’d show a number of other strong willed, even unlikable, girls who defied society’s rules.
Davis won her first Academy Award in 1935, for her part as a distressed young performer in Dangerous. She subsequently appeared in The Petrified Forest with man stars Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart in 1937. From the time she severed ties with Warner Brothers in 1949, Davis was one of its greatest talents. In among her many memorable lines, she quipped, “Fasten your seatbelts: it is likely to be a bumpy night.”
A few of her other work with this time was more lurid, yet. In the horror movie (and camp classic) What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), she costarred with Joan Crawford as a former kid star caring for her handicapped sister. She was featured in a different horror movie in 1964, Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte, and after that played an eyepatch-wearing matriarch in the melodrama The Anniversary in 1968. Despite health issues in her late years, including a fight against breast cancer, Davis continued playing. Among her final movie roles was that of a blind girl in The Whales of August (1987), appearing opposite Lillian Gish.
Davis received many awards later in life, for instance, American Film Institute Life Achievement Award in 1977 as well as the Kennedy Center Honors Award in 1987. Bette Davis expired on October 6, 1989, in Neuilly sur Seine, France, in the age of 81. During the time of her passing, she was on her way home from a film festival in Spain, where she’d only been honored for her work in movie.
Davis married four times. Her first marriage, to bandleader Harmon Oscar Nelson Jr., finished in divorce; her second husband, businessman Arthur Farnsworth, perished in 1943. While married to Gary Merrill, her costar in All About Eve, she adopted two kids, Margot and Michael; the union ended in divorce. Davis released two autobiographies during her life: The Lonely Life (1962) and This ‘n’ That (1987).