Bette Davis (1908-1989)-one of the greatest actress in the history of Hollywood

Bette Davis Who was Bette Davis?

Bette Davis was two times Oscar winning and ten times oscar nomination American actress who received fame and fortune during the Golden age of Hollywood. She was the first actress to have a double digit Academy award nomination, first female actress to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute and became the first female to ever serve as Prresident of of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

Also known as Queen of Hollywood a legendary terror, an early trailblazer and a brilliant actress who had a distinctive eye. A song was written in her eyes called “Bette Davis Eyes”. In her long career, more than half a century, she had acted more than 100 films, Tvs and theatre. 

A perfectionist who could not tolerate disorder and only interest in acting. She did not care much about a movie star but she finds interest in acting as an intellectual profession. Known for her intense, forceful and natural style of acting. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked her as the 2nd greatest female stars among the list of classic Hollywood Cinema.

Starting her career in the early 1930s, she worked in different genres starting from melodramas, historical and comedy films. A perfect example of beauty, independent and charismatic woman whose career ahead of his time.

She was an open-minded actress, said what was on her mind. She once claimed Oscar, the nickname of Academy Award, was named from her first husband Harman Oscar Nelson Jr. She named it because , she said, ” that’s what it looked like.

 Birthday, Childhood and Education 

Bette Davis was born on April 5, 1908 as Ruth Elizabeth Davis, nickname as Betty,  in Lowell, Massachusetts to Harlow Morrell Davis and Ruth Augusta. She had a younger daughter sister named Barbara. His father was a law student from Harvard University who later became a Government patent attorney.

Their parents divorced when she was seven years old. Her father abandoned their family and began to live with her mother. Attended a boarding school along with her sister in Crestalban in Massachusetts. During this time her mother worked as a portrait photographer in New York to maintain her family.

During her stay in boarding school, Davis changed her name from “Bette” to “Betty”  taking from a character’s name in “La Cousin Bette”, a French novel. It was suggested by one of her friend. She also learned from Cushing Academy, a private co-educational private Boarding school in Masachusetts. There she met her first husband, Harmon O. Nelson, also called Ham.

Acting career and movies

From her teen, it was her ambition to become an actress. Her mother also supported her. She said in an interview, she wanted to be an actress because of an actress named Peg Entwistle. According to some media sources, in her teens she posed for a woman making a sculpture to help with her family.

In 1928, at the age of 18 her mother took her to New York to be interviewed by Miss Le Gallienna, whose civic Respertory Theatre was one of the most touring companies of that time, to be a student. Miss Le Galliene thought she was not serious and was rejected.

However she got a chorus role in a Broadway after her audition. Her Broadway debut was “Broken Dishes” as Elaine Bumpsted. Later she appeared in many Broadway plays. In 1930 she came to Hollywood and signed with Universal studios. In 1931 came her debut film “Bad Sister”. The film also marked the screen debut of Sidney Fox also. Humphrey Bogart played a supporting role in this film. Later Davis and Bogart paired in seven more films.

Her films did not worked wel in her early career, had lesser roles and was paid a small amount. Other 1931 films include “Seed” and “Waterloo Bridge”. But could not drew much attention of audience as her role was too brief. After doing many unsucessful films her turning point film came  in 1934-“Of Human Bondage” under RKO production. It was a film adaptation of W.Somerset Maugham’s novel where Davis played an umsympathetic character and receive her first oscar nod.

Under Warner Bros she was portrayed in 1934 film ” Housewife”. Next year she was portrayed an alcoholic, self-destructive woman in “Dangerous”(1935) for which she won her first Academy Award.

Warner Bros offered two films in 1936 that was specially written for her- “God’s Country” and The Woman” and “Mountain Justice”. But she refused to work and asked her to lend her out to RKO to make “Mary of Scotland”. She also demanded $3500 a week which was very high at that time. She went to England in 1936 to find other opportunities in the movie by defying her Warner Bros contract.  For this Warner Bros sued against her and blocked from working for any other studio.

In 1937 came “Marked Woman” paired with Bogart again, a help that help to boost her career. Her second Academy Award winning film came in 1938, “Jezebel” which was also her first of five consecutive films in which she was nominated for Academy Award. It was directed by William Wyler. She worked in three films of Wyler which include “The Letter” (1940) and “The Little Foxes”(1941). She had also a romantic reltion with William Wyler. She called him as “the Love of her life”.

Jezebel marked the beginning of golden phase of Bette Davis of her career. In 1939 came her high grossing film “Dark Victory” which Bogart and Ronald Reagan. Her other box-office hit films came which came in 1939 include “The Old Maid”, “Jaurez”, and “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex”. She shave her hairline and eyebrows for  in preparation for her role as Queen Elizabeth in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.

During 1940s came many successful movies of Bette Davis which include “The Letter” (1940), “The Little Foxes” (1941), “Now Voyager” (1942), “Watch on the Rhine” (1943) and “The Corn is Green” (1945).  She received oscar nominations for the first three films. ” Beyond the Forest” (1949) was the last film of Davis made for Warner Bros.

In her late 1950s her acting career began faded due to her unsuccessful marriages and deterioration of her relation with her daughter B.D.  Few of her films were success but others failed at box-office which include  Storm Center (1956) and The Catered Affair (1956). Her first appearance on Tv was on General Electric Theatre in 1956.

In 1962, she made a classic horror film,  “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” which was cast along with her decades long rivalry Joan Crowford. She earned another oscar award and earned Cannes Film Festival for best actress for this film. It was also last oscar award nomination. During the 196os she appeared in many Broadway plays which include The Night of the Iguana.

She appeared in “Pocketful of Miracles” (1961),a Frank Capra’s film which was a remake of Capra’s 1933 film, Lady for a Day. She played the role of a twin sister in “Dead Ringer” (1964). She also appeared in British films in her later career- The Nanny (1965), The Anniversary (1968), and Connecting Rooms (1970), however none of these were reviewed well. In 1987 she appeared in “The whales of August” just two years before her death.

Physical appearance – Height-Weight & Zodiac sign 

Height  5 feet 3.5 inches
Weight 52 kg
Eye colour Bue
Natural hair colour Blonde
Body measurements 36-27-34
Bra size 34 C
Shoe size 7 US
Zodiac sign  Aries
Nationality American


Spouse:How many times Bette Davis married?

Davis married four times to different persons, ended three in divorces.

First husband of Bette Davis – Harmon Oscar Nelson

Davis’ first husband,Harmon, was a musician. He was her school classmate of Cushing First husband of Bette Davis - Harmon Oscar NelsonAcademy in Massachusetts. They married on August 18, 1932 in Yuma Arizona. They were together for 6 and half years.

Davis was more successful than her husband. Nelson claimed that Davis had a sexual relationship Howard Hughes, an American aerospace engineer and film producer. He also said that in their divorce paper was that all that Bette ever wanted to do in bed was to read scripts and abondoned him.

On the other hand Davis claimed, in an interview, that she earned more than her husband and her husband refused to purchase a house until he could pay for it himself. Her husband had the sole authority of community property including her earnings. She could not use her own money independently. Davis had many abortions so the couple had no children. Nelson filed a divorce in 1938 for Davis’ inhuman and cruel manner.

Second husband of Bette Davis – Arthur Farnsworth

Second husband of Bette Davis - Arthur FarnsworthArthur was an aircraft exper. Arthur and Davis were friends since their high school. They married in  December 1940 and lived together happily for two and a half year until his death.  Unfortunately their marriage life was short. In 1943 while walking on Hollywood street he was collapsed and died two days later. He was only 35 years old at that time. His fall had been caused by a skill fracture due to his fall on a stair two weeks earlier.

Third husband of Bette Davis – William Grant Sherry

Third husband of Bette Davis - William Grant SherryTwo years later after Bette’s husband Arthur death she married William. It is said she was drawn to him because he did not know she was a famous oscar winning actress. William. He was an artist and masseur. Married in 1945 and two years later, the couple had a daughter Davis Sherry nicknamed B.D. Betty was 39 years when she had borne Barbara. 

During this time she was so absorbed to motherhood at a time she even though of retiring from acting. Her relation also began faded with her husband at this time. Eventually she filed for divorce and finalised on 3rd July 1950.

Fourth husband of Bette Davis – Gary Fred Merrill

Fourth husband of Bette Davis - Gary Fred MerrillGary Fred was an American film and television actor who had worked more than 50 feature films in his career. Bette Davis and Gary Fred worked together in  “All About Eve” in 1950 for which Davis was nominated best actress oscar award for her performance. The two pair began a romantic relationship from the set of the film. 

Married on July 28, 1950 in Mexico the same day Gary had divorced his first wife Barbara Leeds. The couple adopted two children Margot and Michael. It seemed Davis had found mental happiness and live happily. 

However marital relationship began faded. Bette found he might harm the children as had a drinking problem and she was subjected to domestic violence.  The couple had a bitter fight and divorced in 1960. She said her fourth marriage was the last chance ti find love of her life however it turned to be the darkest year of her life.

Decadeslong Rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford

Both Bette and Crawford were famous actresses of their period. Crawford was senior to Bettes and had already became a star before Bette was known to the world. I involve both personal and professional resentment. The actual rivalry began in 1933 when Davis received her first starring role in “Ex-Lady”, at the same time Crawford announced her divorce from her first husband Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Newspaper seemed so obsessed with Crawford’s divorce affairs, relegated Bette’s film to a small paragraph in the review section and love affairs of Crawford was published on the top headline. There were poor sales of tickets and the film was dropped from the theatres.

In a 1987 interview, Bette said to the media that she will not forgive her. Bette  has a crush on Clark Gable and was jealous of Crawford’s affairs with Clark Gable. In another case, Bette paired alongside Franchot Tone in 1935 movie “Dangerous”. She was secretly in love with him. Unfortunately Tone was madly in love with Crawford. They announced their engagement and married in 1935. Bette admitted that she was jealous of her.

In 1940 Crawford had sepeerated from MGM and signed with Warner BRos. Now both were under the contract of Warner Bros so there were tough competition between the two. Crawford won her first oscar award for the “Mildred Pierce” (1945) which was turn down by Bette. Supposedly Bette regretted her decision. But the two iconic actress later worked together in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” in 1962. The feud eventually came to n end when Crawford passed on May 10, 1977.

“Bette Davis Eyes” song lyrics

Her hair is Harlow gold

Her lips sweet surprise

Her hands are never cold

She’s got Bette Davis eyes


She’ll turn her music on you

You’ll won’t have to think twice

She’s pure as New York show

She’s got Bette Davis eyes


And she’ll tease you

She’ll unease you 

All the better just to please you

She’s precocious and she knows just what it

Takes to make a pro blush

She got Greta Garbo stand-up sighs

She’s got Bette Davis eyes


She’ll let you take her home

It whets her appetite

She’ll lay you on her throne

She got Bette Davis eyes


She ‘ll expose you, when she snows you

Off her feet, with a crumb she throws you

She’s ferocious and she knows just what it

Takes to make t a pro blush

All the boys think she’s a spy

She’s got Bette Davis eyes


And she’ll tease you

She’ll unease you 

All the better just to please you

She’s precocious and she knows just what it

Takes to make a pro blush

All the boys think she’s a spy

She’s got Bette Davis eyes

She’ll tease you

She’ll unease you

Just to please you

She’s gotBette Davis eyes

It was performed by Kim Carnes in 1981. The Grammy award winning song was written and composed by Donna Weiss and Jackie De Shannon. 

Bettes Davis Networth

In the early 1930s Davis earned a $ 300 a week ($ 18,850 in today’s time). She also demande a $3500 a week  from the Warner Bros in late 1930’s which was at a time when actors had salaries instead of being paid for the movie.  A perfectionist and a Queen of American Film Indisutry had a networth of $2 million at the time of her death according to various sources. Her large wealth was generated from her acting profession stage plays, Tvs and movies”  and many brand endorsements. Her adopted son Michael inherited his mother’s property after her death

Bette Davis death

Bette died on October 12, 1989 at the age of 81 from breast Cancer. In 1983 she had undergone masectomy. In 1989 when she was honoured for her acting career at the Sebastain International Film Festival in Spain her health condition deteriorated. She was to fly to Los Angles instead taken to a hospital in Spain. She died at the Neuilly- Sur-Seine, American Hospital of Paris.

She was buried beside her mother and sister beneath an epitaph, according to her wish at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.



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