Read facts you never knew about Bette Davis:
Bette had been a decorated Girl Scout as a child and even became a Girl Scout leader as an adult, despite her busy career.
Bette was so close to her mother Ruth and sister Bobby that they called themselves the ‘three musketeers’ and they lived with or close to each other on and off throughout their lives.
She hated her debut screen test for Universal Pictures so much, that she ran from the projection room and figured that she wasn’t made to appear in movies.
When Bette got hired by Universal, they felt that she wasn’t sexy enough for a lot of roles. In fact, Bette overheard an executive say: ‘She’s got as much sex-appeal as Slim Summerville. Who wants to get her at the end of the picture?’.
At the time, actresses were supposed to be beautiful and glamorous in movies. Therefore, many actresses rejected the role of Mildred in Human Bondage. Bette actually wanted to play the ugly and unsympathetic Mildred and went all out in the role. People around her predicted it would be the end of her career, but it actually resulted in her first Academy Awards nomination.
Bette’s court case to get out of her contract at Warner Bros. was seen as self-indulgent at the time. She was even called a ‘naughty young lady’ at the trial. Only six years later, Olivia de Havilland had a similar court case and won.
When her second husband Arthur Farnsworth died from an untreated skull fracture, rumours were rampant that Bette had caused it by pushing him during one of their fights. There was even an inquest, but Bette was cleared of the accusations.
Bette was the first female president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. But since she rejected the idea of being just a figurehead, she faced major resistance from the committee and resigned quickly.
Although What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? was very successful, Bette struggled to find roles after that due to her age. So she placed an employment ad in The Hollywood Reporter in which she described herself as ‘mobile still and more affable then rumor would have it’. Some thought it was funny, though others saw it as a sad cry for attention.
Before her falling out with her daughter B.D., Bette and her then 11-year old grandson Ashley starred in the film Family Reunion together.
Bette’s money was mostly spent on supporting her family. She financially supported her mother, sister and daughter and son-in-law for almost her entire life and had to pay large sums of money to her ex-husbands as well.
Her daughter B.D. became a born-again Christian and tried to convert Bette, who refused. B.D. then released a tell-all book about her mother and became a minister. She now runs the B.D. Hyman Ministry and has a religious YouTube channel.
Bette was the first actor of any gender to receive 7,8,9 and 10 Academy Award Nominations in the acting categories.
‘She did it the hard way’ is written on her sarcophagus, as per her request.
One of her Academy Awards was up for auction in 2002. Steven Spielberg bought it and donated it back to the Academy.