Bette Davis via Wikimedia Bette Davis via Wikimedia

Today in History – Hollywood icon Bette Davis dies

Fri, Oct. 6, 2017
CAIRO – 6 October 2017: October 6 is the day Bette Davis passed away at the age of 81 in France. Known as the “First Lady” of American cinema, Davis was one of the foundational actresses of early Hollywood and a prolific talent, starring in over 100 films.

Davis was born on April 2, 1908 in Massachusetts, her parents divorcing when she was only 10. She began acting as early as her teenage years and debuted on Broadway when she was 21 years old in the comedy “Broken Dishes”.

Her first film was a bit role in 1931’s “Bad Sister” by Universal Studios, though executives didn’t have faith in her. She found much better luck with Warner Brothers, where her role in 1932’s “The Man Who Played God” turned her into a star overnight.

In 1934, she would receive her first Oscar nomination for “Of Human Bondage”, which saw Davis play a cruel waitress. A year later, her lead role in “Dangerous” as a struggling young actress earned the Oscar Award for Best Actress. Davis helped pave the way for women in Hollywood, and by 1936 won a second Oscar for “Jezebel”. She would continue to receive Oscar nominations for the next five years, and by 1942, Davis was the highest-paid woman in America.

One of her most famous performances was in 1950’s “All About Eve”, which marked her eighth Academy Award nomination. Here she portrayed Margo Channing, a theater actress approaching middle age who clung to her youth with a sarcastic bite.

Another of her biggest roles was in the 1962 horror film “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”, where she played a former child star who had long since passed her glory days and was left to care for her disabled sister, played by Joan Crawford, whom she torments viciously in their oppressively large mansion.

Outside of acting, Davis’s most remarkable accomplishment was the Hollywood Canteen, a disused night-club that Davis transformed into an entertainment facility during WWII, for which she would be awarded the 1980 Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, the highest civilian award the military can grant. An unstoppable talent, Davis continued to act right before her death, her last film having been 1989’s “Wicked Stepmother” – although it wasn’t a film she was very proud of.

Transforming what it meant to be a woman in Hollywood, Davis was awarded the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1977, and she was the first woman to become President of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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