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Bette Davis

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One of the silver screen's greatest actresses and one of Hollywood's legendary divas, Bette Davis had a reputation in Hollywood for being difficult both on and off the set, but her amazing ten Best Actress Oscar nominations (many of which she earned for playing strong-minded and frequently disagreeable women) as well as the box office success of her films guaranteed that for over six decades in the business, Bette Davis deservedly received the respect she demanded.

Bette with Leslie Howard in the film that made her a star, Somerset Maugham's OF HUMAN BONDAGE (1934), in which Bette created a sensation as a cockney waitress who ruins a man's life.

Click here"You cad! You dirty swine! I never cared for you--not once! I was always making a fool of ya. Ya bored me stiff. I hated ya. It made me sick when I had to let ya kiss me. I only did it because you begged me--ya hounded me and drove me crazy! And after you kissed me, I always used to wipe my mouth. Wipe my mouth!" --as Mildred Rogers in OF HUMAN BONDAGE (1934) (a .WAV file).

Click here"Main Title" (clip) by Erich Wolfgang Korngold (a .MP3 file).

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences failed to nominate Bette for a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in OF HUMAN BONDAGE, the public outcry prompted the fledgling honorary society to permit write-in votes that year. Her momentum didn't last however, and the award finally went to Claudette Colbert for IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, Frank Capra's blockbuster romantic comedy that swept the 1934 Oscars.

Although Bette didn't win for OF HUMAN BONDAGE, she did receive her first official Oscar nomination the following year for her role as jinxed actress Joyce Heath in DANGEROUS (1935).  This time Bette won the Oscar, but she always regarded it as a consolation prize for her performance the previous year, and thought the 1935 prize should have gone to Katharine Hepburn for ALICE ADAMS.

"I'm bad for people. I don't mean to be but I can't help myself." --as Joyce Heath in DANGEROUS (1935).

Memorable Quotations:

  • "I can learn more from you in five minutes than from anyone else in five years." --as Grace Blair in THE MAN WHO PLAYED GOD (1932).
  • Click here"I'd like ta kiss ya, but I just washed my hair."--as Madge in CABIN IN THE COTTON (1932) (a .WAV file).
  • "Cu-ute!" --as Madge in CABIN IN THE COTTON (1932).
  • "No one has any rights about me except me." --as Helen Bauer in EX-LADY (1933).
  • "I went away from home to be on my own. I don't want to be like my mother, a 'yes' woman for some man. I want to be a person of my own." --as Helen Bauer in EX-LADY (1933).
  • "I don't mind." --as Mildred Rogers in OF HUMAN BONDAGE (1934).
  • "Good riddance to bad rubbish." --as Mildred Rogers in OF HUMAN BONDAGE (1934).
  • "I'm going to prove I'm as good a reporter as any man." --as Ellen Garfield in FRONT PAGE WOMAN (1935).
  • "Hurt me? You delight me! You've the most amazing lack of humor of anyone I've ever known!" --as Joyce Heath in DANGEROUS (1935).
  • "I'd rather be drunk than sober." --as Joyce Heath in DANGEROUS (1935).
  • "I'm humiliated to the point where I must thank you." --as Joyce Heath in DANGEROUS (1935).
  • "Helping Joyce Heath is like shaking hands with the devil." --as Joyce Heath in DANGEROUS (1935).
  • "There's one little piggy who's going to market in a shocking state of nudity." --as Joyce Heath in DANGEROUS (1935).
  • "I've been betrayed so often by tomorrows, I don't dare promise them." --as Joyce Heath in DANGEROUS (1935).

A memorable poster image of Bette publicizing William Wyler's JEZEBEL (1938), a steamy ante-bellum drama in which Bette plays a head-strong, rebellious belle of New Orleans, a performance for which she won her second Best Actress Oscar. Interestingly, Fay Bainter, who plays Bette's "Aunt Belle" in the film, also won an Oscar in the Best Supporting Actress category for her performance, marking the first time actresses appearing in the same film won Academy Awards in both the leading and supporting actress categories.

"This is 1852, dumplin', 1852 -- not the dark ages. Girls don't have to simper around in white just because they're not married." --as Julie Marsden in JEZEBEL (1938).

A publicity still of Bette with her JEZEBEL co-star Henry Fonda.

In addition to Bette's Oscar, JEZEBEL also earned Academy Award nominations for Ernest Haller's cinematography and Max Steiner's musical score as well as a Best Picture mention.  Top prize in 1938 went to Frank Capra's YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU however.

Music Clip from JEZEBEL:

Click here"Waltz" by Max Steiner (a .MP3 file courtesy RCA Victor).

(For help opening any of the multimedia files, visit the plug-ins page.)

More Memorable Quotations:

  • "Oh, I don't want to ever marry. I want to be always free." --as Gabby Maple in THE PETRIFIED FOREST (1936).
  • "If you could read my mind, you'd shrivel where you stand." --as Joyce Arden in IT'S LOVE I'M AFTER (1937).
  • "I can't understand why a man I'm so crazy about takes such a fiendish delight in tormenting me." --as Joyce Arden in IT'S LOVE I'M AFTER (1937).
  • "Dearest, I think you're the lowest thing that ever crawled, but as long as I can reach out and get my hands on you, no other man will ever touch me." --as Joyce Arden in IT'S LOVE I'M AFTER (1937).
  • "From head to foot, I'm one quivering mass of loathing." --as Joyce Arden in IT'S LOVE I'M AFTER (1937).
  • "Sweet place for a murderer." --as Joyce Arden in IT'S LOVE I'M AFTER (1937).
  • "Good! Let's have blood and destruction." --as Joyce Arden in IT'S LOVE I'M AFTER (1937).
  • "You're going to have love for breakfast, love for luncheon and love for dinner. Sweet, sugary, sticky worship. You're going to have a steady diet of it till you're ready to scream -- you billy goat!" --as Joyce Arden in IT'S LOVE I'M AFTER (1937).
  • "You cad! You can't even be on the level about killing yourself!" --as Joyce Arden in IT'S LOVE I'M AFTER (1937).
  • "I do resent being called a cat." --as Joyce Arden in IT'S LOVE I'M AFTER (1937).
  • "Anyway, if I wanted to end up in the river, I'd have taken a jump off the Brooklyn Bridge five years ago." --as Mary Dwight in MARKED WOMAN (1937).
  • "Some will wind up in the short end, but not me, baby. I know all the angles, and I think I'm smart enough to keep one step ahead of them--till I get enough to pack it all in and live on Easy Street the rest of my life." --as Mary Dwight in MARKED WOMAN (1937).
  • "If I weren't in such a hurry, I'd break right down and cry." --as Mary Dwight in MARKED WOMAN (1937).
  • "I'll get you--even if I have to crawl back from my grave to do it." --as Mary Dwight in MARKED WOMAN (1937).
  • "I got things wrong with me that all the doctors in the world can't fix." --as Mary Dwight in MARKED WOMAN (1937).

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Last updated: March 10, 2011.
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