Bette Davis – Larger Than Life

Day 333 of Colourisation Project – April 5

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Often referred to as The First Lady of the American Screen, she was placed second, behind Katharine Hepburn, on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest female stars of all time.

Born this day, April 5, 1908, in Lowell, Massachusetts, Ruth Elizabeth Davis, better known as Bette Davis was one of American cinema’s most celebrated leading actresses, famous for her larger-than-life persona, both on and off the silver screen. 

Bette Davis Bef & Aft

Publicity Still – Bette Davis – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

In a career which spanned six decades, she appeared in more than 100 films, television and theater roles for which she received 10 Academy Award nominations, and twice won the Best Actress award. Some of her more memorable performances were in such films as  Dark Victory (1939), The Little Foxes (1941) Now, Voyager (1942), All Above Eve (1950), What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964).

A perfectionist, she was also known for her forthright disposition and a reputation for being highly combative with studio executives, film directors and costars. She played difficult women on screen, and off screen she was just as difficult, particularly towards her nemesis Joan Crawford. She certainly didn’t mince words. Following  are some of her now classic barbs.

I wouldn’t piss on Joan Crawford if she were on fire. [on being told that Joan Crawford would be her co-star for Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte]

She has slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie [again on rival Joan Crawford]

She was always so damn proper. She sent thank you notes for thank you notes. I screamed when I found out she signed autographs: ‘Bless you, Joan Crawford.’

Joan always cries a lot. Her tear ducts must be very close to her bladder. [After hearing that Joan Crawford sobbed over Dark Victory]

The best time I ever had with Joan in a film was when I pushed her down the stairs in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Why am I so good at playing bitches? I think it’s because I’m not a bitch. Maybe that’s why [Joan Crawford] always plays ladies.

She ought to know about close-ups! Jesus, she was around when they invented them! [on costar Lillian Gish]

There was more good acting at Hollywood parties than ever appeared on the screen.

She is such a fool. One would think that after all her years in the business she would want to work with a professional. [on Elizabeth Taylor’s declining to have Davis as her co-star in A Little Night Music (1977)]

He was just beautiful . . . Errol. He himself openly said, “I don’t know really anything about acting,” and I admire his honesty because he’s absolutely right. [on Errol Flynn]

I’d marry again if I found a man who had fifteen million dollars, would sign over half to me, and guarantee that he’d be dead within a year.

None of my husbands was ever man enough to become Mr. Bette Davis.

I will never be below the title. Today everyone is a star – they’re all billed as ‘starring’ or ‘also starring’. In my day, we earned that recognition.

 You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good . . . Joan Crawford is dead. Good.  [commenting on the death  Joan Crawford]

Just because someone is dead does not mean they have changed! [when told not to speak ill of the dead]

 Gay Liberation? I ain’t against it, it’s just that there’s nothing in it for me.

Bette Davis died at the age of 81 on 6 October 1989  in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France, after a long battle with breast cancer and after having undergone a mastectomy back in 1983. She was interred in Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.

One more time in her own words:

“I have been uncompromising, peppery, intractable, monomaniacal, tactless, volatile and ofttimes disagreeable. I suppose I’m larger than life.”

Bette Davis will always be remembered as one of Hollywood’s legendary ‘larger than life’ leading ladies. Fellow actress, Angela Lansbury,  expressed the commonly held view that the Hollywood community 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 1997 the executors of her estate, established “The Bette Davis Foundation” which awards college scholarships to promising actors and actresses


“My passions were all gathered together like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today; I knew it then as purpose.”   Bette Davis

This entry was posted in Colorization, Colourisation, Film, Hollywood, Photography, USA, Women, Women in Film & TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Bette Davis – Larger Than Life

  1. Amazing actress and I love how forthright she was. Excellent colouring as always 🙂


  2. Loredana Isabella Crupi says:

    Very forthright! I think she just said what everyone was thinking! 🙂


  3. Ben Haith says:

    Bette Davis is my favorite actor. Thank you Betty for giving us your talent.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s