Joan Crawford

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Posted by kaori 04/22/2009 @ 20:12

Tags : joan crawford, actors and actresses, entertainment

News headlines
Silver to remake horror classic - Monsters and Critics.com
The original film, which starred Joan Crawford, was based on the Ursula Curtis novel "Out of the Dark" and told the story of two girls who make prank phone calls to unsuspecting people until they call the wrong man. Silver, Andrew Rona and Steve...
Winona is the queen of the comeback kids - Irish Independent
Joan Crawford was also on that 1938 box-office poison list, and her problems were compounded by the fact that she'd specialised in Depression-era melodramas to such an extent that she was considered a bad and terminally old-fashioned actress....
I Saw What You Did Remake On the Way - Paste Magazine
The original movie, which co-stars Joan Crawford, features two teenage girls who call random numbers and yap at whoever answers: “I saw what you did and I know who you are!” In an unhappy coincidence, they dial up a killer who doesn't take kindly to...
Photos of iconic Hollywood stars to grace walls of KMA - Knoxville News Sentinel
The exhibit contains 93 vintage prints of photos taken from 1920-60 of stars like Clark Gable, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo. It was a time when studios like Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount, RKO and Warner Brothers made...
GAY OF THE DEAD 13: Writer/Director/Actor Alan Rowe Kelly: Part 2 - FANGORIA
And I am presently working on a treatment for SUDDEN FEAR, based on the Edna Sherry novel/Joan Crawford 1952 thriller, placed in present day San Francisco with me in the Crawford playwright role and using gay marriage in the storyline as a plot for...
Five Movies You Shouldn't Watch With Mom On Mother's Day - MTV.com
This Joan Crawford bio-pic, directed by Frank Perry and starring Faye Dunaway, offers an up-close look at the famously controlling actress and her dysfunctional relationship with her daughter. Crawford unleashes the nasty on everyone around her...
RSS is dead? My ass... - Ulitzer.com
That's why I love Joan Crawford, btw -- she's one of the very few stars of the silent era to blossom in the talkies. You can see her in this clip from The Hollywood Revue of 1929, along with many of the stars who didn't make the transition....
Advice Goddess: Harried, with children - Contra Costa Times
It doesn't help that many are perfectionistic in a way men generally aren't, like with a housecleaning regime right out of Joan Crawford's crazy scene in the bathroom in "Mommie Dearest." They'll beg their husband to pitch in, and when he does,...
Special gay screening of Mommie Dearest planned for Mother?s Day - Xtra.ca
Peat feels gay audiences are attracted to the largeness of Joan Crawford's life. “Female impersonators like Charles Pierce and Craig Russell recognized that about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and made them complete caricatures beyond their own films....
Sonoma's Speidel creates one-of-a-kind jewelry - San Francisco Chronicle
"I was just fascinated with Ginger Rogers and Joan Crawford and all the fabulous jewelry they wore," says Speidel, 65, who grew up in Argentina. She went on to a career diametrically opposed to jewelry - banking - and it wasn't until she married her...

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford in 1927

Joan Crawford (March 23, 1905 – May 10, 1977) was an American actress of film, television and theatre. Starting as a dancer in traveling theatrical companies before debuting on Broadway, Crawford was signed to a motion picture contract by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1925. Initially frustrated by the size and quality of her parts, Crawford began a campaign of self-publicity and became nationally known as a flapper by the end of the 1920s. In the 1930s, Crawford's fame rivaled MGM colleagues Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo. Crawford often played hardworking young women who find romance and financial success. These "rags-to-riches" stories were well-received by Depression-era audiences and were popular with women. Crawford became one of Hollywood's most prominent movie stars and one of the highest paid women in the United States, but her films began losing money and by the end of the 1930s she was labeled "box office poison".

After an absence of nearly two years from the screen, Crawford staged a comeback by starring in Mildred Pierce (1945), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 1955, she became involved with the Pepsi-Cola Company, through her marriage to company president Alfred Steele. After his death in 1959, Crawford was elected to fill his vacancy on the board of directors but was forcibly retired in 1973. She continued acting in film and television regularly through the 1960s, when her performances became fewer; after the release of the horror film Trog in 1970, Crawford retired from the screen. Following a public appearance in 1974, after which unflattering photographs were published, Crawford withdrew from public life. She became more and more reclusive until her death in 1977.

Crawford married four times. Her first three marriages ended in divorce; the last ended with the death of husband Al Steele. She adopted five children, one of whom was reclaimed by his birth mother. Crawford's relationships with her two older children, Christina and Christopher, were acrimonious. Crawford disinherited the two and, after Crawford's death, Christina wrote a "tell-all" memoir called Mommie Dearest in which she alleged a lifelong pattern of physical and emotional abuse perpetrated by Crawford.

Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur in San Antonio, Texas, the third child of Tennessee-born Thomas E. LeSueur (1868–1938) and Anna Bell Johnson (1884–1958). Her older siblings were Daisy LeSueur, who died very young, and Hal LeSueur. Although Crawford was of mostly English descent, her surname originated from her great-great-great-great grandparents, David LeSueur and Elizabeth Chastain, French Huguenots who immigrated from London in the early 1700s to Virginia.

Thomas LeSueur abandoned the family a few months before Crawford's birth. He appeared in Abilene, Texas, in 1930 as a 62-year-old construction laborer on the George R. Davis House, built in Prairie School architecture.

Crawford's mother subsequently married Henry J. Cassin. The family lived in Lawton, Oklahoma, where Cassin ran a movie theater. Crawford was unaware that Cassin was not her birth father until her brother Hal told her. The 1910 federal census for Comanche County, Oklahoma, enumerated on April 20, showed Henry and Anna living at 910 "D" Street in Lawton. Crawford was listed as five years old, thus showing 1905 as her likely year of birth. However, the state of Texas did not require the filing of birth certificates until 1908, allowing Crawford to claim she was born in 1908.

Crawford preferred the nickname "Billie" as a child and she loved watching vaudeville acts perform on the stage of her stepfather's theater. Her ambition was to be a dancer. However, in an attempt to escape piano lessons to run and play with friends, she leapt from the front porch of her home and cut her foot deeply on a broken milk bottle. Crawford had three operations and was unable to attend elementary school for a year and a half. She eventually fully recovered and returned to dancing.

Around 1916, Crawford's family moved to Kansas City, Missouri. Cassin was first listed in the City Directory in 1917, living at 403 East Ninth Street. While still in elementary school, Crawford was placed in St. Agnes Academy, a Catholic school in Kansas City. Later, after her mother and stepfather broke up, she stayed on at St. Agnes as a work student. She then went to Rockingham Academy as a work student. While attending Rockingham she began dating and had her first serious relationship, with a trumpet player named Ray Sterling. It was Sterling who inspired her to begin challenging herself academically, and in 1922, Crawford registered at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. She gave her year of birth as 1906. Crawford attended Stephens for less than a year, as she recognized that she was not academically prepared for college.

Under the name Lucille LeSueur, Crawford began dancing in the choruses of traveling revues and was spotted dancing in Detroit by producer Jacob J. Shubert. Shubert put her in the chorus line for his 1924 show Innocent Eyes at the Winter Gardens on Broadway in New York City. While appearing in Innocent Eyes Crawford met a saxophone player named James Welton. The two were allegedly married in 1924 and the couple lived together for several months, although this supposed marriage was never mentioned in later life by Crawford. She wanted additional work and approached Loews Theaters publicist Nils Granlund. Granlund secured a position for her with producer Harry Richmond's act and arranged for her to do a screen test which he sent to producer Harry Rapf in Hollywood. Stories have persisted that Crawford further supplemented her income by appearing in one or more stag, or soft-core pornographic, films, although this has been disputed. Rapf notified Granlund on December 24, 1924 that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had offered Crawford a contract at $75 a week. Granlund immediately wired LeSueur – who had returned to her mother's home in Kansas City – with the news and $400 for travel expenses. The night after Christmas she left Kansas City and arrived in Culver City, California.

As Lucille LeSueur, her first film was Pretty Ladies in 1925, which starred ZaSu Pitts. Also in 1925 she appeared in a small role in The Only Thing and in Old Clothes opposite Jackie Coogan. MGM publicity head Pete Smith recognized her ability but felt that her name sounded fake; it also, he told studio head Louis B. Mayer, sounded like "Le Sewer". Smith organized a contest in conjunction with a fan magazine named Movie Weekly to allow readers to select her new name. Initially the name "Joan Arden" was selected but, when another actress was found to have prior claim to that name, the alternate name "Crawford" became the choice. Crawford initially wanted her new first name to be pronounced "Jo-anne". She hated the name Crawford, saying it sounded like "crawfish". Her friend, actor William Haines, quipped, "They might have called you 'Cranberry' and served you every Thanksgiving with the turkey!" Crawford continued to dislike the name throughout her life but, she said, "liked the security that went with it".

On June 3, 1929, Crawford married Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. at Saint Malachy's Roman Catholic Church in New York City. Fairbanks was the son of Douglas Fairbanks and the stepson of Mary Pickford, who were considered Hollywood royalty. Fairbanks Sr. and Pickford were opposed to the marriage and did not invite the couple to their home, Pickfair, for eight months after the marriage. The relationship between Crawford and Fairbanks, Sr. eventually warmed; she called him "Uncle Doug" and he called her "Billie". Following that first invitation, Crawford and Fairbanks, Jr. became more frequent guests, which was hard on Crawford. While the Fairbanks men played golf together, Crawford was left with Pickford or left alone.

Crawford starred opposite of Clark Gable in Possessed (1931). They began an affair during the production, resulting in an ultimatum from studio chief Louis B. Mayer to Gable that the affair end. Gable complied, although for many years their affair resumed sporadically and secretly. Upon release, Possessed was an enormous hit.

The studio then cast her in Grand Hotel, which starred the most famous actors of the 1930s and was MGM's most prestigious movie of 1932. Crawford later achieved continued success with Letty Lynton (1932). Soon after its release, a plagiarism suit forced MGM to withdraw it. It has never been shown on television or made available on home video, and is therefore considered the "lost" Crawford film. The film is mostly remembered because of the "Letty Lynton dress," designed by Adrian: a white cotton organdy gown with large ruffled sleeves, puffed at the shoulder. It was with this gown that Crawford's broad shoulders began to be accentuated by costume. Macy's copied the dress in 1932, and it sold over 500,000 replicas nationwide.

In May 1933, Crawford divorced Fairbanks. Crawford cited "grievous mental cruelty"; "a jealous and suspicious attitude" toward her friends and "loud arguments about the most trivial subjects" lasting "far into the night".

Following Possessed, Crawford starred opposite Gable in the hit Dancing Lady (1933), in which she received top billing. Crawford's next movies, Sadie McKee, Chained and Forsaking All Others (all 1934), were among the top money makers of the mid-1930s.

In 1935, Crawford married her second husband, stage and film actor Franchot Tone. Tone, a stage actor from New York who planned to use his film salary to finance his theatre group, and Crawford appeared together in Today We Live (1933) and were immediately drawn to each other, although Crawford was hesitant about entering into another romance so soon after her split from Fairbanks. The couple built a small theatre at Crawford's Brentwood home and put on productions of classic plays for select groups of friends. Before and during their marriage, Crawford worked to promote Tone's Hollywood career but Tone was ultimately not interested in being a movie star and Crawford eventually wearied of the effort. Tone began drinking and physically abusing Crawford and she filed for divorce, which was granted in 1939. Crawford and Tone eventually reconciled their friendship and Tone even proposed they remarry in 1964. When Tone died in 1968, Crawford arranged for him to be cremated and his ashes scattered at Muskoka Lakes, Canada.

The Motion Picture Herald placed Crawford on its list of the top-ten moneymaking stars from 1932, the first year of the poll, through 1936 and Life magazine proclaimed her "First Queen of the Movies" in 1937. Later in 1937 she dropped out of the top ten for the first time, and in 1938 the Independent Film Journal named her and several other stars as "box office poison" based on their supposed lack of popular appeal. However, Crawford made a small comeback with her role as home-wrecker Crystal Allen in director George Cukor's comedy The Women in 1939. She also broke from formula by taking the unglamorous role of Julie in Strange Cargo (1940), her eighth and final film with Clark Gable. Crawford then starred as a facially disfigured blackmailer in A Woman's Face (1941). While the film was only a moderate box office success, her performance was hailed by many critics.

Crawford adopted her first child, a daughter, in 1940. Because she was single, California law prevented her from adopting within the state so she arranged the adoption through an agency in Las Vegas. The child was temporarily called Joan until Crawford changed her name to Christina. She married actor Phillip Terry on July 21, 1942 after a six-month courtship. Together the couple adopted a son whom they named Christopher, but his birth mother reclaimed the child. They adopted another boy, whom they named Phillip Terry, Jr. After the marriage ended in 1946, Crawford changed the child's name to Christopher Crawford.

After 18 years, Crawford's contract was terminated by mutual consent on June 29, 1943. In lieu of one more movie owed under her contract, MGM bought out her contract for $100,000. The same day, the studio cleared out her bungalow.

Crawford wanted to play the title role in Mildred Pierce (1945), but Davis was the studio's first choice. However, Davis did not want to play the mother of a seventeen year old daughter and she turned the role down. Director Michael Curtiz did not want Crawford and told Jack Warner, "She comes over here with her high-hat airs and her goddamn shoulder pads...why should I waste my time directing a has-been?" Curtiz demanded Crawford prove her suitability by taking a screen test. After the test, Curtiz agreed to Crawford's casting. Crawford starred opposite Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden, Ann Blyth and Butterfly McQueen. Mildred Pierce was a commercial success. It epitomized the lush visual style and the hard-boiled film noir sensibility that defined Warner Bros. movies of the later 1940s. Crawford earned the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

From 1945 to 1952, Crawford reigned as a top star and respected actress, appearing in such roles as Helen Wright in Humoresque (1946), Louise Howell Graham in Possessed (1947, for which she was nominated for a second Oscar for Best Actress) and the title role in Daisy Kenyon (also 1947). Crawford's other movie roles of the era include Lane Bellamy in Flamingo Road (1949), a dual role in the film noir The Damned Don't Cry (1950) and her performance in the title role of Harriet Craig (1950) at Columbia Pictures. After filming This Woman Is Dangerous (1952), Crawford asked to be released from her Warner Bros. contract. As she had done before, Crawford triumphed as Myra Hudson in Sudden Fear (1952) at RKO, which was the movie that introduced her co-star, Jack Palance, to the screen and earned Crawford a third and final Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

Crawford adopted two more children in 1947, whom she named Cindy and Cathy. She referred to them as twins but the children were not related by blood.

Crawford worked in the radio series The Screen Guild Theater on January 8, 1939; Good News; Baby, broadcast March 2, 1940 on Arch Oboler's Lights Out; The Word on Everyman's Theater (1941); Chained on the Lux Radio Theater and Norman Corwin's Document A/777 (1948). She appeared in episodes of anthology TV shows in the 1950s and, in 1959, made a pilot for her series, The Joan Crawford Show, but the show was never picked up by a network.

Crawford married her final husband, Alfred Steele, at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas on May 10. 1955. Crawford and Steele met at a party in 1950 when Steele was an executive with Coca-Cola. They renewed their acquaintance at a New Year's Eve party in 1954. Steele by that time had become the president of Pepsi Cola. Crawford traveled extensively on behalf of Pepsi following the marriage. She estimated that she traveled over 100,000 miles for the company. Steele died of a heart attack in April 1959. Crawford was initially advised that her services were no longer required. After she told the story to Louella Parsons, Pepsi reversed its position and Crawford was elected to fill the vacant seat on the board of directors. Crawford, left near-penniless following Steele's death, accepted a supporting role in the film The Best of Everything (1959). It was her first non-starring role in her later career.

After her triumph in RKO's Sudden Fear, Crawford appeared in films ranging from the cult western film Johnny Guitar (1954) to the drama Autumn Leaves (1956), opposite a young Cliff Robertson. By the early 1960s, however, Crawford's status in motion pictures had diminished.

Crawford starred as Blanche Hudson, a physically disabled woman and former A-list movie star in conflict with her psychotic sister in the highly successful thriller What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962). Despite the actresses' earlier tensions, Crawford suggested Bette Davis for the role of Jane. The two stars maintained publicly that there was no feud between them. However, Crawford accused Davis of kicking her during the filming of a scene in which Jane attacks Blanche, and reportedly retaliated by wearing weights under her clothes in a scene in which Davis had to carry her. The film became a huge success, recouping its losses in 11 days of nationwide release and temporarily reviving Crawford's career. Davis was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as Jane Hudson. Crawford secretly contacted all the other Oscar nominees to tell them if they were unable to attend the ceremony, she would be happy to accept the Oscar on their behalf. Both Davis and Crawford were backstage when the absent Anne Bancroft was announced as the winner and Crawford accepted the award on her behalf. Davis claimed for the rest of her life that Crawford campaigned against her, a charge Crawford denied. That same year, Crawford starred as Lucy Harbin in William Castle's horror mystery Strait-Jacket (1964).

Upon her release from the hospital Crawford played the role of Amy Nelson in I Saw What You Did (1965), another William Castle vehicle. She starred as Monica Rivers in Herman Cohen's horror thriller film Berserk! (1968). After the film's release, Crawford guest-starred as herself on The Lucy Show. The episode, "Lucy and the Lost Star", first aired on February 26, 1968. Although Crawford struggled during rehearsals and drank heavily on-set, leading Ball to suggest replacing her with Gloria Swanson, she was letter-perfect the day of the show and received two standing ovations from the studio audience.

In October 1968, Crawford's 29-year-old daughter, Christina (who was then acting in New York on the soap opera The Secret Storm), needed immediate medical attention for a ruptured ovarian tumor. Until Christina was well enough to return, Crawford offered to play her role, to which producer Gloria Monty readily agreed. Although Crawford did well in rehearsal, she lost her composure while taping and the director and producer were left to struggle to piece together the necessary footage.

Crawford's appearance in the 1969 TV film Night Gallery (which served as pilot to the series that followed), marked one of Steven Spielberg's earliest directing jobs. She starred on the big screen one final time, playing Dr. Brockton in Herman Cohen's science fiction horror film Trog (1970), rounding out a career spanning 45 years and over 80 motion pictures. Crawford made four more TV appearances, as Stephanie White in an episode of The Virginian (1970), entitled "The Nightmare"; as a board member in an episode of The Name of the Game (1971), entitled "Los Angeles"; as Allison Hayes in the made-for-TV movie Beyond the Water's Edge (1972); and as Joan Fairchild (her final screen performance) on an episode of the television series, The Sixth Sense, entitled, "Dear Joan: We're Going To Scare You To Death" (1972).

In 1970, Crawford was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award by John Wayne at the Golden Globes, which was telecast from the Coconut Grove at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. She also spoke at her alma mater, Stephens College, from which she never graduated.

Crawford published her autobiography, A Portrait of Joan, – written with Jane Kesner Ardmore – in 1962 through Doubleday. Crawford's next book, My Way of Life, was published in 1971 by Simon and Schuster. Those expecting a racy tell-all were disappointed, although Crawford's meticulous ways were revealed in her advice on grooming, wardrobe, exercise, and even food storage.

In September 1973, Crawford moved from apartment 22-G to the smaller apartment 22-H in the Imperial House. Her last public appearance was September 23, 1974, at a party honoring her old friend Rosalind Russell at New York's Rainbow Room. Russell was battling breast cancer at the time and died two years later in 1976. When Crawford saw the unflattering photos of both stars that appeared in the papers the next day, she said, "If that's how I look, then they won't see me anymore." Crawford cancelled all public appearances, began declining interviews and left her apartment less and less. In 1975, with a renewed embrace of her Christian Science faith, she gave up drinking.

A memorial service was held for Crawford at All Souls' Unitarian Church on Lexington Avenue in New York on May 16, 1977, and was attended by, among others, her old Hollywood friend Myrna Loy. Another memorial service, organized by George Cukor, was held on June 24 in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, California. Crawford was cremated and her ashes placed in a crypt with her last husband, Alfred Steele, in Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York.

Crawford's hand and footprints are immortalized in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood. She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1750 Vine Street. In 1999, Playboy listed Crawford as one of the "100 Sexiest Women of the 20th century," ranking her #84.

In November 1978, a year and a half after Crawford's death, Christina published an exposé entitled Mommie Dearest which contained allegations that Crawford was emotionally and physically abusive to her and her brother Christopher. Many of Crawford's friends and co-workers, including Van Johnson, Ann Blyth, Marlene Dietrich and others denounced the book, categorically denying any abuse. Crawford's rival Bette Davis, however, strongly supported the book, saying that Christina could not have made it up (Davis would ironically become the target of her own daughter, B. D. Hyman's, tell-all book in 1985, My Mother's Keeper). The book became a bestseller and was later made into the 1981 film Mommie Dearest, starring Faye Dunaway as Crawford.

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Joan Crawford filmography

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Joan Crawford acted in a large number of movies during the course of her career. They are listed here in their entirety, along with TV appearances and archival footage.

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Joan Crawford (basketball)

Joan Crawford (born August 22, 1937 in Fort Smith, Arkansas, United States) is a former basketball player and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame (enshrined in 1997), Women's Basketball Hall of Fame (enshrined in 1999), and Amateur Athletic Union Hall of Fame.

Crawford was the leading player in women's basketball in 1950s and 1960s. She played in the AAU for fourteen seasons, from 1955 to 1969, two with Clarendon and twelve with Nashville Business College. She was named to thirteen consecutive AAU All-American teams and the MVP of the 1963 and 1964 AAU National Tournaments.

With the US National team, Crawford won the World Championship in 1957 and the 1959 and 1963 Pan American Games.

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Bette Davis

Bette Davis in That Certain Woman trailer.jpg

Ruth Elizabeth "Bette" Davis (April 5, 1908 – October 6, 1989) was an American actress of film, television and theatre. Noted for her willingness to play unsympathetic characters, she was highly regarded for her performances in a range of film genres; from contemporary crime melodramas to historical and period films and occasional comedies, though her greatest successes were her roles in romantic dramas.

After appearing in Broadway plays, Davis moved to Hollywood in 1930, but her early films for Universal Studios were unsuccessful. She joined Warner Bros. in 1932 and established her career with several critically acclaimed performances. In 1937, she attempted to free herself from her contract and although she lost a well-publicized legal case, it marked the beginning of the most successful period of her career. Until the late 1940s, she was one of American cinema's most celebrated leading ladies, known for her forceful and intense style. Davis gained a reputation as a perfectionist who could be highly combative, and her confrontations with studio executives, film directors and costars were often reported. Her forthright manner, clipped vocal style and ubiquitous cigarette contributed to a public persona which has often been imitated and satirized.

Davis was the co-founder of the Hollywood Canteen, and was the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. During her career she received 10 nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress and won twice, and she was the first woman to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. Her career went through several periods of eclipse, and she admitted that her success had often been at the expense of her personal relationships. Married four times, she was once widowed and thrice divorced, and raised her children as a single parent. Her final years were marred by a long period of ill health, but she continued acting until shortly before her death from breast cancer, with more than 100 film, television and theater roles to her credit. In 1999, Davis was placed second, behind Katharine Hepburn, on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest female stars of all time.

Ruth Elizabeth Davis, known from early childhood as "Betty", was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, the daughter of Ruth ("Ruthie") Augusta (née Favor), and Harlow Morrell Davis, a patent attorney; her sister Barbara ("Bobby") was born October 25, 1909. The family was Protestant, of English, French, and Welsh ancestry. In 1915, Davis's parents separated and Betty and Bobby attended a Spartan boarding school called Crestalban in Lanesborough, which is located in the Berkshires. In 1921, Ruth Davis moved to New York City with her daughters, where she worked as a portrait photographer. Betty was inspired to become an actress after seeing Rudolph Valentino in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) and Mary Pickford in Little Lord Fauntleroy (1921), and changed the spelling of her name to "Bette" after Honoré de Balzac's La Cousine Bette. She received encouragement from her mother, who had aspired to become an actress.

She attended Cushing Academy, a boarding school in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, where she met her future husband, Harmon O. Nelson, known as "Ham". In 1926, she saw a production of Henrik Ibsen's The Wild Duck with Blanche Yurka and Peg Entwistle. Davis later recalled that it inspired her full commitment to her chosen career, and said, "Before that performance I wanted to be an actress. When it ended, I had to be an actress... exactly like Peg Entwistle." She auditioned for admission to Eva LeGallienne's Manhattan Civic Repertory, but was rejected by LeGallienne who described her attitude as "insincere" and "frivolous". She was accepted by the John Murray Anderson School of Theatre, and studied dance with Martha Graham.

She auditioned for George Cukor's stock theater company, and although he was not very impressed, he gave Davis her first paid acting assignment anyway – a one-week stint playing the part of a chorus girl in the play Broadway. She was later chosen to play Hedwig, the character she had seen Entwistle play, in The Wild Duck. After performing in Philadelphia, Washington and Boston, she made her Broadway debut in 1929 in Broken Dishes, and followed it with Solid South. A Universal Studios talent scout saw her perform and invited her to Hollywood for a screen test.

Accompanied by her mother, Davis traveled by train to Hollywood, arriving on December 13, 1930. She later recounted her surprise that nobody from the studio was there to meet her; a studio employee had waited for her, but left because he saw nobody who "looked like an actress". She failed her first screen test but was used in several screen tests for other actors. In a 1971 interview with Dick Cavett, she related the experience with the observation, "I was the most Yankee-est, most modest virgin who ever walked the earth. They laid me on a couch, and I tested fifteen men ... They all had to lie on top of me and give me a passionate kiss. Oh, I thought I would die. Just thought I would die." A second test was arranged for Davis, for the film A House Divided (1931). Hastily dressed in an ill-fitting costume with a low neckline, she was rebuffed by the director William Wyler, who loudly commented to the assembled crew, "What do you think of these dames who show their chests and think they can get jobs?" Carl Laemmle, the head of Universal Studios, considered terminating Davis's employment, but cinematographer Karl Freund told him she had "lovely eyes" and would be suitable for The Bad Sister (1931), in which she subsequently made her film debut. Her nervousness was compounded when she overheard the Chief of Production, Carl Laemmle Jr., comment to another executive that she had "about as much sex appeal as Slim Summerville", one of the film's co-stars. The film was not a success, and her next role in Seed (1931) was too brief to attract attention.

Universal Studios renewed her contract for three months, and she appeared in a small role in Waterloo Bridge (1931) before being lent to Columbia Pictures for The Menace, and to Capital Films for Hell's House (all 1932). After nine months, and six unsuccessful films, Laemmle elected not to renew her contract. George Arliss chose Davis for the lead female role in The Man Who Played God (1932), and for the rest of her life, Davis credited him with helping her achieve her "break" in Hollywood. The Saturday Evening Post wrote, "she is not only beautiful, but she bubbles with charm", and compared her to Constance Bennett and Olive Borden. Warner Bros. signed her to a five-year contract.

In 1932, she married Harmon "Ham" Nelson, who was scrutinized by the press; his $100 a week earnings compared unfavorably with Davis's reported $1,000 a week income. Davis addressed the issue in an interview, pointing out that many Hollywood wives earned more than their husbands, but the situation proved difficult for Nelson, who refused to allow Davis to purchase a house until he could afford to pay for it himself.

After more than 20 film roles, the role of the vicious and slatternly Mildred Rogers in Of Human Bondage (1934), a film adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's novel, earned Davis her first major critical acclaim. Many actresses feared playing unsympathetic characters and several had refused the role, but Davis viewed it as an opportunity to show the range of her acting skills. Her costar, Leslie Howard, was initially dismissive of her, but as filming progressed his attitude changed and he subsequently spoke highly of her abilities. The director, John Cromwell, allowed her relative freedom, and commented, "I let Bette have her head. I trusted her instincts." She insisted that she be portrayed realistically in her death scene, and said, "the last stages of consumption, poverty and neglect are not pretty and I intended to be convincing-looking".

The film was a success, and Davis's confronting characterization won praise from critics, with Life Magazine writing that she gave "probably the best performance ever recorded on the screen by a U.S. actress". Davis anticipated that her reception would encourage Warner Bros. to cast her in more important roles, and was disappointed when Jack Warner refused to lend her to Columbia Studios to appear in It Happened One Night, and instead cast her in a melodrama, Housewife. When Davis was not nominated for an Academy Award for Of Human Bondage, The Hollywood Citizen News questioned the omission and Norma Shearer, herself a nominee, joined a campaign to have Davis nominated. This prompted an announcement from the Academy president, Howard Estabrook, who said that under the circumstances "any voter ... may write on the ballot his or her personal choice for the winners", thus allowing, for the only time in the Academy's history, the consideration of a candidate not officially nominated for an award. Claudette Colbert won the award for It Happened One Night but the uproar led to a change in Academy voting procedures the following year, whereby nominations were determined by votes from all eligible members of a particular branch, rather than by a smaller committee, with results independently tabulated by the accounting firm Price Waterhouse.

Davis appeared in Dangerous (1935) as a troubled actress and received very good reviews. E. Arnot Robertson wrote in Picture Post, "I think Bette Davis would probably have been burned as a witch if she had lived two or three hundred years ago. She gives the curious feeling of being charged with power which can find no ordinary outlet." The New York Times hailed her as "becoming one of the most interesting of our screen actresses". She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for the role, but commented it was belated recognition for Of Human Bondage, calling the award a "consolation prize". For the rest of her life, Davis maintained that she gave the statue its familiar name of "Oscar" because its posterior resembled that of her husband, whose middle name was Oscar, although her claim has been disputed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, among others.

In her next film, The Petrified Forest (1936), Davis co-starred with Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart, but Bogart, in his first important role, received most of the critics' praise. Davis appeared in several films over the next two years but most were poorly received.

Convinced that her career was being damaged by a succession of mediocre films, Davis accepted an offer in 1936 to appear in two films in England. Knowing that she was breaching her contract with Warner Bros., she fled to Canada to avoid legal papers being served upon her. Eventually, Davis brought her case to court in England, hoping to get out of her contract with Warner Bros. She later recalled the opening statement of the barrister, Sir Patrick Hastings, who represented Warner Brothers. Hastings urged the court to "come to the conclusion that this is rather a naughty young lady and that what she wants is more money". He mocked Davis's description of her contract as "slavery" by stating, incorrectly, that she was being paid $1,350 per week. He remarked, "if anybody wants to put me into perpetual servitude on the basis of that remuneration, I shall prepare to consider it". The British press offered little support to Davis, and portrayed her as overpaid and ungrateful.

The case, decided by Branson J. in the English High Court, was reported as Warner Bros. Studios Incorporated v. Nelson in 1 KB 209. Davis lost the case and returned to Hollywood, in debt and without income, to resume her career. Olivia de Havilland mounted a similar case in 1943 and won.

Davis began work on Marked Woman (1937), as a prostitute in a contemporary gangster drama inspired by the case of Lucky Luciano. The film and Davis's performance received excellent reviews, and her stature as a leading actress was enhanced.

During the filming of her next film, Jezebel, Davis entered a relationship with director William Wyler. She later described him as the "love of my life", and said that making the film with him was "the time in my life of my most perfect happiness". The film was a success, and Davis's performance as a spoiled Southern belle earned her a second Academy Award, which led to speculation in the press that she would be chosen to play a similar character, Scarlett O'Hara, in Gone with the Wind. Davis expressed her desire to play Scarlett, and while David O. Selznick was conducting a search for the actress to play the role, a radio poll named her as the audience favorite. Warner offered her services to Selznick as part of a deal that also included Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, but Selznick did not consider Davis as suitable, and rejected the offer.

Jezebel marked the beginning of the most successful phase of Davis's career, and over the next few years she was listed in the annual "Quigley Poll of the Top Ten Money Making Stars", which was compiled from the votes of movie exhibitors throughout the U.S. for the stars that had generated the most revenue in their theaters over the previous year. In contrast to Davis's success, her husband, Ham Nelson, had failed to establish a career for himself, and their relationship faltered. In 1938, Nelson obtained evidence that Davis was engaged in a sexual relationship with Howard Hughes and subsequently filed for divorce citing Davis's "cruel and inhuman manner".

She was emotional during the making of her next film, Dark Victory (1939), and considered abandoning it until the producer Hal Wallis convinced her to channel her despair into her acting. The film became one of the highest grossing films of the year, and the role of Judith Traherne brought her an Academy Award nomination. In later years, Davis cited this performance as her personal favorite.

She appeared in three other box office hits in 1939, The Old Maid with Miriam Hopkins, Juarez with Paul Muni and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex with Errol Flynn. The latter was her first color film and her only color film made during the height of her career. To play the elderly Elizabeth I of England, Davis shaved her hairline and eyebrows. During filming she was visited on the set by the actor Charles Laughton. She commented that she had a "nerve" playing a woman in her sixties, to which Laughton replied, "Never not dare to hang yourself. That's the only way you grow in your profession. You must continually attempt things that you think are beyond you, or you get into a complete rut." Recalling the episode many years later, Davis remarked that Laughton's advice had influenced her throughout her career.

By this time, Davis was Warner Bros.' most profitable star, described as "The Fifth Warner Brother", and she was given the most important of their female leading roles. Her image was considered with more care; although she continued to play character roles, she was often filmed in close-ups that emphasized her distinctive eyes. All This and Heaven Too (1940) was the most financially successful film of Davis's career to that point, while The Letter was considered "one of the best pictures of the year" by The Hollywood Reporter, and Davis won admiration for her portrayal of an adulterous killer. During this time, she was in a relationship with her former costar George Brent, who proposed marriage. Davis refused, as she had met Arthur Farnsworth, a New England innkeeper. They were married in December 1940.

In January 1941, Davis became the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences but antagonized the committee members with her brash manner and radical proposals. Faced with the disapproval and resistance of the committee, Davis resigned, and was succeeded by Jean Hersholt, who implemented the changes she had suggested.

William Wyler directed Davis in Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes (1941), but they clashed over the character of Regina Giddens. Taking a role originally played on stage by Tallulah Bankhead, Davis felt Bankhead's original interpretation was appropriate and followed Hellman's intent, but Wyler wanted her to soften the character. Davis refused to compromise. She received another Academy Award nomination for her performance, and she never worked with Wyler again.

In the same year, Davis appeared briefly in Shining Victory, the directorial debut of her friend Irving Rapper. He would go on to direct her in four more films: Now, Voyager (1942), The Corn is Green (1945), Deception (1946), and Another Man's Poison (1952).

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Davis spent the early months of 1942 selling war bonds. After Jack Warner criticized her tendency to cajole crowds into buying, she reminded him that her audiences responded most strongly to her "bitch" performances. She sold two million dollars of bonds in two days, as well as a picture of herself in Jezebel for $250,000. She also performed for black regiments as the only white member of an acting troupe formed by Hattie McDaniel, that also included Lena Horne and Ethel Waters.

At John Garfield's suggested opening of a servicemen's club in Hollywood, Davis – with the aid of Warner, Cary Grant and Jule Styne – transformed an old nightclub into the Hollywood Canteen, which opened on October 3, 1942. Hollywood's most important stars volunteered to entertain servicemen. Davis ensured that every night there would be a few important "names" for the visiting soldiers to meet. She appeared as herself in the film Hollywood Canteen (1944) which used the canteen as the setting for a fictional story. Davis later commented, "There are few accomplishments in my life that I am sincerely proud of. The Hollywood Canteen is one of them." In 1980, she was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, the United States Department of Defense's highest civilian award, for her work with the Hollywood Canteen.

Davis had initially shown little interest in the film Now, Voyager (1942) until Hal Wallis advised her that female audiences needed romantic dramas to distract them from the reality of their lives. It became one of the best known of her "women's pictures". In one of the film's most imitated scenes Paul Henreid lights two cigarettes as they are held in his lips before passing one to Davis. Film reviewers complimented Davis on her performance, the National Board of Review commenting that she gave the film "a dignity not fully warranted by the script".

During the early 1940s, several of Davis's film choices were influenced by the war, such as Watch on the Rhine (1943) and Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943), a lighthearted all-star musical cavalcade, with each of the featured stars donating their fee to the Hollywood Canteen. Davis performed a novelty song, "They're Either Too Young or Too Old", which became a hit record after the film's release.

Old Acquaintance (1943) reunited her with Miriam Hopkins in a story of two old friends who deal with the tensions created when one of them becomes a successful novelist. Davis felt that Hopkins tried to upstage her throughout the film. The director Vincent Sherman recalled the intense competitiveness and animosity between the two actresses, and Davis often joked that she held back nothing in a scene in which she was required to shake Hopkins in a fit of anger.

In August 1943, Davis's husband, Arthur Farnsworth, collapsed while walking along a Hollywood street, and died two days later. An autopsy revealed that his fall had been caused by a skull fracture which had occurred about two weeks earlier. Davis testified before an inquest that she knew of no event that might have caused the injury. A finding of "accidental death" was reached. Highly distraught, Davis attempted to withdraw from her next film Mr. Skeffington (1944), but Jack Warner, who had halted production following Farnsworth's death, convinced her to continue.

Although she had gained a reputation for being forthright and demanding, her behavior during filming of Mr. Skeffington was erratic and out of character. She alienated director Vincent Sherman by refusing to film certain scenes and insisting that some sets be rebuilt. She improvised dialogue, causing confusion among other actors, and infuriated the writer Julius Epstein, who was also called upon to rewrite scenes at her whim. Davis later explained her actions with the observation, "when I was most unhappy I lashed out rather than whined". Some reviewers criticized Davis for the excess of her performance; James Agee wrote that she "demonstrates the horrors of egocentricity on a marathonic scale", but despite the mixed reviews, she received another Academy Award nomination.

Davis married an artist, William Grant Sherry, who also, when necessary, worked as a masseur, in 1945. She had been drawn to him because he claimed that he had never heard of her and was therefore not intimidated by her.

Davis refused the title role in Mildred Pierce, a role for which Joan Crawford ultimately won an Academy Award, and instead made The Corn Is Green (1945). Davis played a dowdy English teacher, who saves a young Welsh miner from a life in the coal pits, by offering him education. The film was well received by critics but did not find a substantial audience. Her next film, A Stolen Life (1946), was the first and only film that Davis made with her own production company, BD Productions. The film received poor reviews, but was one of her biggest box-office successes. It was followed by Deception (1946), the first of her films to lose money.

Possessed (1947) had been tailor-made for Davis and was to have been her next project after Deception (1946). However, she was pregnant and went on maternity leave. Joan Crawford played her role in Possessed and was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress. In 1947, Davis gave birth to a daughter, Barbara (known as B.D.) and later wrote in her memoir that she became absorbed in motherhood and considered ending her career. Her relationship with Sherry began to deteriorate and she continued making films, but her popularity with audiences was steadily declining.

Among the film roles offered to Davis following her return to film making was Rose Sayer in The African Queen. When informed that the film was to be made in Africa, Davis refused the part, telling Jack Warner, "If you can't shoot the picture in a boat on the back lot, then I'm not interested." Katharine Hepburn played the role. Davis was also offered a role in a film version of the Virginia Kellogg prison drama Women Without Men. Originally intended to pair Davis with Joan Crawford, Davis made it clear that she would not appear in any "dyke movie", and the lead roles were played by Agnes Moorehead and Eleanor Parker when it was filmed as Caged (1950). She lobbied Jack Warner to make two films, Ethan Frome and a biography of Mary Todd Lincoln, however Warner vetoed each proposal.

In 1948, Davis was cast in Winter Meeting and, although she was initially enthusiastic, she soon learned that Warner had arranged for "softer" lighting to be used to disguise her age. She recalled that she had seen the same lighting technique "on the sets of Ruth Chatterton and Kay Francis, and I knew what they meant". She began to regret accepting the role and, to add to her disappointment, she was not confident in the abilities of her leading man, Jim Davis. She disagreed with amendments made to the script because of censorship restrictions and found that many of the aspects of the role that had initially appealed to her were no longer to be included. The film was later described by Bosley Crowther as "interminable" and he noted that "of all the miserable dilemmas in which Miss Davis has been involved ... this one is probably the worst". It failed at the box office and the studio lost nearly one million dollars.

Davis clashed with her co-star Robert Montgomery while making June Bride (1948), later describing him as "a male Miriam Hopkins... an excellent actor, but addicted to scene-stealing". The film marked her first comedy in several years, and earned her some positive reviews, but it was not particularly popular with audiences and returned only a small profit. Despite the lackluster box office receipts from her more recent films, in 1949, she negotiated a four film contract with Warner Bros. which paid $10,285 per week and made her the highest paid woman in the United States.

Jack Warner refused to allow her script approval and cast her in Beyond the Forest (1949). Davis reportedly loathed the script and begged Warner to recast the role, but he refused. After the film was completed, Warner released Davis from her contract, at her request. The reviews that followed were scathing; Dorothy Manners writing for the Los Angeles Examiner, described the film as "an unfortunate finale to her brilliant career". Hedda Hopper wrote, "If Bette had deliberately set out to wreck her career, she could not have picked a more appropriate vehicle." The film contained the line, "What a dump!", which became closely associated with Davis after impersonators used it in their acts. In later years, Davis often used it as her opening line at speaking engagements.

Davis won a "Best Actress" award from the Cannes Film Festival, and the New York Film Critics Circle Award. She also received the San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award as "Best Actress", having been named by them as the "Worst Actress" of 1949 for Beyond the Forest. During this time she was invited to leave her handprints in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

On July 3, 1950 Davis's divorce from William Sherry was finalized, and on July 28 she married Gary Merrill. With Sherry's consent, Merrill adopted B.D., Davis's daughter with Sherry, and in 1950, Davis and Merrill adopted a baby girl they named Margot. The family traveled to England, where Davis and Merrill starred in a murder-mystery film, Another Man's Poison. When it received lukewarm reviews and failed at the box office, Hollywood columnists wrote that Davis's comeback had petered out, and an Academy Award nomination for The Star (1952) did not halt her decline.

Davis and Merrill adopted a baby boy, Michael, in 1952, and Davis appeared in a Broadway revue, Two's Company directed by Jules Dassin. She was uncomfortable working outside of her area of expertise; she had never been a musical performer and her limited theater experience had been more than 20 years earlier. She was also severely ill and was operated on for osteomyelitis of the jaw. Margot was diagnosed as severely brain damaged due to an injury sustained during or shortly after her birth, and was eventually placed in an institution. Davis and Merrill began arguing frequently, with B.D. later recalling episodes of alcohol abuse and domestic violence.

Few of Davis's films of the 1950s were successful and many of her performances were condemned by critics. The Hollywood Reporter wrote of mannerisms "that you'd expect to find in a nightclub impersonation of ", while the London critic, Richard Winninger, wrote, "Miss Davis, with more say than most stars as to what films she makes, seems to have lapsed into egoism. The criterion for her choice of film would appear to be that nothing must compete with the full display of each facet of the Davis art. Only bad films are good enough for her." As her career declined, her marriage continued to deteriorate until she filed for divorce in 1960. The following year, her mother died.

In 1962, Davis opened in the Broadway production The Night of the Iguana to mostly mediocre reviews, and left the production after four months due to "chronic illness". She then joined Glenn Ford and Ann-Margret for the Frank Capra film A Pocketful of Miracles (a remake of Capra's 1933 Lady for a Day), based on a story by Damon Runyon. She accepted her next role, in the Grand Guignol horror film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? after reading the script and believing it could appeal to the same audience that had recently made Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) a success. She negotiated a deal that would pay her 10 percent of the worldwide gross profits, in addition to her salary. The film became one of the year's biggest successes.

Davis and Joan Crawford played two aging sisters, former actresses forced by circumstance to share a decaying Hollywood mansion. The director, Robert Aldrich, explained that Davis and Crawford were each aware of how important the film was to their respective careers and commented, "It's proper to say that they really detested each other, but they behaved absolutely perfectly." After filming was completed, their public comments against each other allowed the tension to develop into a lifelong feud, and when Davis was nominated for an Academy Award, Crawford campaigned against her. Davis also received her only BAFTA Award nomination for this performance.

Daughter B.D. played a small role in the film and when she and Davis visited the Cannes Film Festival to promote it, she met Jeremy Hyman, an executive for Seven Arts Productions. After a short courtship, she married Hyman at the age of 16, with Davis's permission.

Davis would later claim that the ad was a joke.

Davis sustained her comeback over the course of several years. Dead Ringer (1964) was a crime drama in which she played twin sisters and Where Love Has Gone (1964) was a romantic drama based on a Harold Robbins novel. Davis played the mother of Susan Hayward but filming was hampered by heated arguments between Davis and Hayward. Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) was Robert Aldrich's follow-up to What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, in which he planned to reunite Davis and Crawford, but when Crawford withdrew allegedly due to illness soon after filming began, she was replaced by Olivia de Havilland. The film was a considerable success and brought renewed attention to its veteran cast, which also included Joseph Cotten, Mary Astor and Agnes Moorehead.

By the end of the decade, Davis had also appeared in the British films The Nanny (1965), The Anniversary (1968), and Connecting Rooms (1970), but her career again stalled.

In the early 1970s, Davis was invited to appear in New York, in a stage presentation, Great Ladies of the American Cinema. Over five successive nights, a different female star discussed her career and answered questions from the audience; Myrna Loy, Rosalind Russell, Lana Turner and Joan Crawford were the other participants. Davis was well received and was invited to tour Australia with the similarly themed, Bette Davis in Person and on Film, and its success allowed her to take the production to the United Kingdom.

In 1972, she played the lead role in two television films that were each intended as a pilot for an upcoming series for NBC, Madame Sin with Robert Wagner, and The Judge and Jake Wyler, with Joan Van Ark, but in each case, NBC decided against producing a series.

In the U.S., she appeared in the stage production, Miss Moffat, a musical adaptation of The Corn is Green, but after the show was panned by the Philadelphia critics during its pre-Broadway run, she cited a back injury and abandoned the show, which closed immediately. She played supporting roles in Burnt Offerings (1976) and The Disappearance of Aimee (1976), but she clashed with Karen Black and Faye Dunaway, respectively the stars of the two productions, because she felt that neither extended her an appropriate degree of respect, and that their behavior on the film sets was unprofessional.

In 1977, Davis became the first woman to receive the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award. The televised event included comments from several of Davis's colleagues including William Wyler who joked that given the chance Davis would still like to refilm a scene from The Letter to which Davis nodded. Jane Fonda, Henry Fonda, Natalie Wood and Olivia de Havilland were among the actors who paid tribute, with de Havilland commenting that Davis "got the roles I always wanted".

Following the telecast she found herself in demand again, often having to choose between several offers. She accepted roles in the television miniseries The Dark Secret of Harvest Home (1978) and the film Death on the Nile (1978). For the rest of her career the bulk of her work was for television. She won an Emmy Award for Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter (1979) with Gena Rowlands, and was nominated for her performances in White Mama (1980) and Little Gloria... Happy at Last (1982). She also played supporting roles in two Disney films, Return from Witch Mountain (1978) and The Watcher in the Woods (1980).

Davis's name became well-known to a younger audience when Kim Carnes's song "Bette Davis Eyes" became a worldwide hit and the best-selling record of 1981 in the U.S., where it stayed at number one on the music charts for more than two months. Davis's grandson was impressed that she was the subject of a hit song and Davis considered it a compliment, writing to both Carnes and the songwriters, and accepting the gift of gold and platinum records from Carnes, and hanging them on her wall.

She continued acting for television, appearing in Family Reunion (1981) opposite her grandson J. Ashley Hyman, A Piano for Mrs. Cimino (1982) and Right of Way (1983) with James Stewart.

In 1985, Davis donated 59 scrapbooks to Boston University library. Upon examination, the library's staff found a picture of Joan Crawford with all her teeth blacked out.

In 1983, after filming the pilot episode for the television series Hotel, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. Within two weeks of her surgery she suffered four strokes which caused paralysis in the right side of her face and in her left arm, and left her with slurred speech. She commenced a lengthy period of physical therapy and, aided by her personal assistant, Kathryn Sermak, gained partial recovery from the paralysis.

During this time, her relationship with her daughter, B. D. Hyman, deteriorated when Hyman became a born-again Christian and attempted to persuade Davis to follow suit. With her health stable, she traveled to England to film the Agatha Christie mystery Murder with Mirrors (1985). Upon her return, she learned that Hyman had published a memoir, My Mother's Keeper, in which she chronicled a difficult mother-daughter relationship and depicted scenes of Davis's overbearing and drunken behavior.

Several of Davis's friends commented that Hyman's depictions of events were not accurate; one said, "so much of the book is out of context". Mike Wallace rebroadcast a 60 Minutes interview he had filmed with Hyman a few years earlier in which she commended Davis on her skills as a mother, and said that she had adopted many of Davis's principles in raising her own children. Critics of Hyman noted that Davis had financially supported the Hyman family for several years and had recently saved them from losing their house. Despite the acrimony of their divorce years earlier, Gary Merrill also defended Davis. Interviewed by CNN, Merrill said that Hyman was motivated by "cruelty and greed". Davis's adopted son, Michael Merrill, ended contact with Hyman and refused to speak to her again, as did Davis, who also disinherited her.

Davis appeared in the television film As Summers Die (1986) and Lindsay Anderson's The Whales of August (1987), in which she played the blind sister of Lillian Gish. The film earned good reviews, with one critic writing, "Bette crawls across the screen like a testy old hornet on a windowpane, snarling, staggering, twitching – a symphony of misfired synapses." Her last performance was the title role in Larry Cohen's Wicked Stepmother (1989). By this time her health was failing, and after disagreements with Cohen she walked off the set. The script was rewritten to place more emphasis on Barbara Carrera's character, and the reworked version was released after Davis's death.

During 1988 and 1989, Davis was feted for her career achievements, receiving the Kennedy Center Honor, the Legion of Honor from France, the Campione d'Italia from Italy and the Film Society of Lincoln Center Lifetime Achievement Award. She collapsed during the American Cinema Awards in 1989 and later discovered that her cancer had returned. She recovered sufficiently to travel to Spain where she was honored at the Donostia-San Sebastián International Film Festival, but during her visit her health rapidly deteriorated. Too weak to make the long journey back to the U.S., she traveled to France where she died on October 6, 1989, at 11:20 pm, at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine. She was 81 years old.

She was interred in Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California, alongside her mother, Ruthie, and sister, Bobby. On her tombstone is written: "She did it the hard way", an epitaph that she mentioned in her memoir Mother Goddam as having been suggested to her by Joseph L. Mankiewicz shortly after they had filmed All About Eve.

In 1997, the executors of her estate, Michael Merrill, her son, and Kathryn Sermak, her former assistant, established "The Bette Davis Foundation" which awards college scholarships to promising actors and actresses.

In 1964, Jack Warner spoke of the "magic quality that transformed this sometimes bland and not beautiful little girl into a great artist", and in a 1988 interview, Davis remarked that, unlike many of her contemporaries, she had forged a career without the benefit of beauty. She admitted she was terrified during the making of her earliest films and that she became tough by necessity. "Until you're known in my profession as a monster, you are not a star", she said, " I've never fought for anything in a treacherous way. I've never fought for anything but the good of the film." During the making of All About Eve, Joseph L. Mankiewicz told her of the perception in Hollywood that she was difficult, and she explained that when the audience saw her on screen, they did not consider that her appearance was the result of numerous people working behind the scenes. If she was presented as "a horse's ass ... forty feet wide, and thirty feet high", that is all the audience "would see or care about".

Her film choices were often unconventional; she sought roles as manipulators and killers in an era when actresses usually preferred to play sympathetic characters, and she excelled in them. She favored authenticity over glamour and was willing to change her own appearance if it suited the character. Claudette Colbert commented that Davis was the first actress to play roles older than herself, and therefore did not have to make the difficult transition to character parts as she aged.

A few months before her death in 1989, Davis was one of several actors featured on the cover of Life. In a film retrospective that celebrated the films and stars of 1939, Life concluded that Davis was the most significant actress of her era, and highlighted Dark Victory as one of the most important films of the year. Her death made front-page news throughout the world as the "close of yet another chapter of the Golden Age of Hollywood". Angela Lansbury summed up the feeling of those of the Hollywood community who attended her memorial service, commenting after a sample from Davis's films were screened, that they had witnessed "an extraordinary legacy of acting in the twentieth century by a real master of the craft", that should provide "encouragement and illustration to future generations of aspiring actors".

In 1999, the American Film Institute published its list of the "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars", which was the result of a film industry poll to determine the "50 Greatest American Screen Legends" in order to raise public awareness and appreciation of classic film. Of the 25 actresses listed, Davis was ranked at number two, behind Katharine Hepburn.

The United States Postal Service honored Davis with a commemorative postage stamp in 2008, marking the 100th anniversary of her birth. The stamp features an image of her in the role of Margo Channing in All About Eve. The First Day of Issue celebration took place September 18, 2008 at Boston University, which houses an extensive Bette Davis archive. Featured speakers included her son Michael Merrill and the actress Lauren Bacall.

In 1962 Bette Davis became the first person to secure 10 Academy Award nominations for acting. Since then only four people have equalled or surpassed this figure, Meryl Streep (with 15 nominations and 2 wins), Katharine Hepburn (12 nominations and 4 wins), Jack Nicholson (12 nominations and 3 wins) and Laurence Olivier (10 nominations and 1 win).

Steven Spielberg purchased Davis's Oscars for Dangerous (1935) and Jezebel (1938) when they were offered for auction for, respectively US$207,500 and US$578,000, and returned them to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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Humoresque (film)

Humoresque is a 1946 Warner Bros. feature film starring Joan Crawford and John Garfield in an older woman/younger man tale about a violinist and his patroness. The screenplay by Clifford Odets and Zachary Gold was based upon a novel by Fannie Hurst. Humoresque was directed by Jean Negulesco and produced by Jerry Wald.

In New York City a performance by noted violinist Paul Boray (Garfield) is cancelled. At his apartment, Boray is at rock bottom emotionally. His manager Frederic Bauer (Richard Gaines) is angry with him for misunderstanding what a performing career would be like, and for thinking that music is no longer part of his life as he has lived with it for too long. To the more sympathetic Sid Jeffers (Oscar Levant) he says he has always wanted to do the right thing, but has always been outside of himself looking in. He cannot get back to the kid he once was.

In the past, young Paul (Bobby Blake) is choosing a birthday present in a suburban New York Variety store run by Jeffers (Harlan Briggs). He rejects as childish the suggestions of his father 'Papa' Rudy (J. Carroll Naish), a grocery store owner, but settles on a violin, which his father rejects as unsuitable; his price limit is $1.50. Esther, his mother (Ruth Nelson), sympathetic at this stage, buys the $8 violin for him.

A transition from his faltering first steps to being a gifted young violinist follows. On 15 October 1930, he overhears his father Rudy's dismissal of his chances, and the frustration of his brother Phil (Tom D'Andrea) in finding a job. He resolved to go out on his own and not be dependent on his family. He finds a job with locally broadcast orchestra in which Sid Jeffers is the pianist.

At a party, Paul meets the hostess Helen Wright (Crawford), a patroness in a loveless marriage with an ineffectual aging husband Victor (Paul Cavanaugh), her third. Helen is a self-centered, adulterous woman who uses men as sexual playthings and is initially baffled by the strong-willed and independent Boray. After being rude to him at the party, she sends a golden cigarette case to his home the next day. 'Papa' Boray is impressed, but his mother is now suspicious. At first interested in his talent rather than Boray as a person, though Boray is quick to press her on the second issue. He gains a manager Bauer from her connections, and is now in love with her. On the beach, near the Wright's Long Island home, he reaches out to Helen after a swim, but she runs away; later in the evening she falls off a horse and he kisses her, but Helen does not want to be touched and wishes to be left alone by Paul.

After a shot of ocean waves, everything is different. Helen warns him he might be sorry love was ever invented, but admits she cannot fight him any longer, and is in love with him. Waiting at home, Esther, his mother is not fooled by his denials, and points out a missed date with Gina Romney (Joan Chandler), also a musician and his long-term sweetheart. Esther had earlier overheard Victor's putdown of Paul as a "savage" after a concert.

After a tour across America taking several months, he has lunch with Gina. Sid arrives with Helen, who is immediately jealous of Gina, but Helen leaves in a hurry and Paul follows her; Gina cries. After a scene in Teddy's Bar, in which Helen smashes her drink ("What Is This Thing Called Love?" is performed by Peg La Centra in the background), she is angry with Paul at being neglected; Paul had never called her, even when close to New York. Paul points out her married status, but Helen urges him to let her become more involved in his career; she is jealous of Gina's musician status.

During the daytime, at his new apartment containing numerous photographs of Helen, he confesses his love for her to his mother. Later, at night in the Wright's home, disquieted by rumours he has heard, Victor asks his wife for a divorce. He is suspicuious of her real intentions, but Helen admits this is first time she has known real love.

At a rehearsal, Paul is passed a note from Helen claiming good news. She asks to see him immediately, but he crumples the note and continues with the rehearsal of the Carmen Fantasie (adapted for the film by Franz Waxman from Bizet's Carmen). At Teddy's Bar, Helen becomes increasingly drunk, and is unable to tolerate the house pianist/singer performing "Embraceable You". Paul arrives to take her home, but in reality to an impromptu conference. This time, it is Helen who is cool; she repeatedly does not really hear his stated wish to marry her.

Helen visits his parents grocery store, but Esther wishes they would part. Helen listens to Boray play his transcription of Wagner's Liebestod on the radio; Paul had been concerned of her absence. Helen, recalling her husband's words, realizes her dissolute past can only taint his future, and then walks to her death in the nearby ocean; in her jaded mind, the only logical resolution to their problems. Later a group of people wait on the shore. Paul, distraught, is comforted by the loyal Jeffers.

Returning to the opening scene, Paul asks Jeffers to tell Bauer not to worry. He is not running away.

The movie is a remake of the 1920 silent film Humoresque (directed by Frank Borzage) and was Crawford's first film after her Oscar-winning role in Mildred Pierce, and her third for Warner Bros, after being dropped by MGM. Costumes for Humoresque were designed by Adrian and Bernard Newman.

Franz Waxman orchestrated and conducted the score which features selections by Antonín Dvorák and Richard Wagner, Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumble Bee, Bizet's Carmen, and Edouard Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole. Isaac Stern served as musical advisor, and the film includes close-ups of his hands playing the violin.

Franz Waxman received an Academy Award nomination for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.

The films budget was estimated to be around $2,164,000. The film fared well at the box office and grossed $3,399,000 and the film was hailed a success. With inflation in 2007 the gross is $35,737,750.

Humoresque was parodied on the television show SCTV in 1981. The Joan Crawford role was played by Catherine O'Hara as Crawford, while the John Garfield role was played by violin virtuoso Eugene Fodor.

In 1998, pop star Madonna released a video for her single "The Power Of Goodbye" which was based on several scenes from the movie.

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Torch Song (film)

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Torch Song (1953) is a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer feature film starring Joan Crawford and Michael Wilding in a story about a Broadway star and her rehearsal pianist. The screenplay by John Michael Hayes and Jan Lustig was based upon the story "Why Should I Cry?" by I.A.R. Wylie. The film was directed by Charles Walters and produced by Sidney Franklin, Henry Berman, and Charles Schnee. Torch Song has gained note for the musical number Two-Faced Woman, from The Band Wagon in which Crawford in blackface, lip-syncs to the voice of India Adams while snakily dancing with male dancers. The film marked Joan Crawford's return to MGM after a ten-year absence.

Jenny Stewart (Crawford) is a tough Broadway musical star, alienating her colleagues with her neurotic demands for absolute perfection. Jenny takes offense when her new rehearsal pianist Tye Graham (Wilding) criticizes her song stylings and ruthless ways. Graham was blinded in WWII but fell in love with Jenny when he was a young reporter. Deep down, Jenny yearns for a real and lasting love but is disenchanted with the men around her such as Broadway parasite Cliff Willard (Gig Young). At her mother's (Marjorie Rambeau), she discovers an old newspaper clipping in which Tye reviewed one of her first shows and made it evident he loved her. Jenny realizes she is loved, goes to Tye, and they embrace. Cast includes Henry Morgan, Dorothy Patrick, Eugene Loring, Maidie Norman, and James Todd.

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Sudden Fear

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Sudden Fear (1952) is an RKO Radio Pictures feature film starring Joan Crawford and Jack Palance in a noir-ish tale about a successful woman who marries a murderous man. The screenplay by Lenore J. Coffee and Robert Smith was based upon the novel by Edna Sherry. Sudden Fear was directed by David Miller and produced by Joseph Kaufman. The film was nominated for several Academy Awards and has been released to DVD.

Myra Hudson (Crawford) is a successful Broadway playwright who rejects Lester Blaine (Palance) as the lead in her new play. Later, she meets Lester on a train bound for San Francisco, is swept off her feet, and, after a brief courtship, marries him. When Lester learns Myra is writing her will and plans to leave the bulk of her fortune to a foundation, he plots her murder in cahoots with Irene Neves (Gloria Grahame), an old girlfriend hiding in the wings. Myra discovers their plans and concocts a diabolical scheme to kill Lester and place the blame on Irene. Lester learns of Myra's intention and accidentally kills Irene and himself in an attempt on Myra's life. Myra hears the two pronounced dead and breathes a sigh of relief. Others in the cast include Bruce Bennett, Virginia Huston, and Mike Connors (performing as Touch Connors).

Marlon Brando was originally offered the role of Lester Blaine. The film was shot in San Francisco, California. Costumes were designed by Sheila O'Brien and earned an Academy Award nomination.

Sudden Fear was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role: Joan Crawford, Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Jack Palance, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White and Best Costume Design, Black-and-White.

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Source : Wikipedia