Bette Davis

Bette Davis In Her Own Words
  • Bette Davis In Her Own Words

  • In a selection of interviews ranging from 1958 to 1987, Bette Davis talks about visiting England; her career as a star; the film studio's attempts to change her name and image, and the Hollywood film system.

    Interviews include: Profile, BBC TV (first broadcast 12 September 1958); Bette Davis at the NFT, BBC TV (first broadcast 17 December 1972); Kaleidoscope, BBC Radio (first broadcast 11 September 1974); Parkinson, BBC TV (18 October 1975); Nine Five, BBC TV (first broadcast 31 October 1975); Woman's Hour, BBC Radio (first broadcast 12 September 1979); Arena, BBC TV (first broadcast 2 November 1983).

    Due to the age and nature of this archive material, the sound quality may vary.

    ©2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

Bette Davis was born Ruth Elizabeth Davis in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1908. After graduating from Cushing Academy, she enrolled in John Murray Anderson's Dramatic School. She made her Broadway debut in 1929, and acted in a number of theatre roles before signing to Universal Studios and later Warner Brothers Pictures. Her first film with them was Seed (1931) but the film that launched her to stardom was The Man Who Played God (1932). A string of hit films followed, including Of Human Bondage (1934) and Dangerous (1935) which won her an Oscar. Her second Oscar came in 1938, for her role as Julie in Jezebel. During the Second World War, she contributed to the war effort by selling war bonds, and in 1942 she helped to organise the Hollywood Canteen - an entertainment club for servicemen passing through Los Angeles. Her work in setting this up was recognised in 1980, when she was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal. She was highly acclaimed by critics for her performance in Now, Voyager (1942), but subsequent films during the Forties were disappointing. However, Davis made a triumphant comeback as Margo Channing in All About Eve (1950), which won her the New York Film Critics Circle Award and the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival. Twelve years later, she was to have another resounding success with Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). In 1977, she was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute - the first time a woman had received that award. She later received the the Film Society of Lincoln Center Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the Légion d'Honneur and the Campione d'Italia. Davis died in 1989 in in Neuilly-sur-Seine.

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