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Bette Davis in Her Own Words [Audio]


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Silver screen legend Bette Davis discusses her life and career in this collection of interviews from the BBC archive.

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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 Legion d'Honneur and the Campione d'Italia. Davis died in 1989 in in Neuilly-sur-Seine.

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