A blog celebrating Bette Davis' life and career... As well as her complex, uproarious, larger than life personality.
We were quite a sight when Anna Magnani, replete with interpreter and agent, came to the apartment to visit me. I couldn’t have been more thrilled. She was in New York and had always wanted to meet me. It was certainly mutual. I was a real fan of hers. From the first minute it was as if we’d known each other for years. As vivid as her beautiful country, as explosive as a happy child, her eyes have known the tragic. But now, she was radiating excitement. “For Bette Davis — I wear my diamonds!” Their sparkle was second to hers. We, through her interpreter, discussed acting, the world in general and children. Her own son is an invalid for whom she has always slaved and searched for a cure. B.D. was sitting beside me on the bed, her eyes glued to Anna. She had never heard Italian spoken before. “Why, Bette Davis, do you not come to us in Italy — to Europe? You are for us. We are the same, you and I — Come to us!”
I thought of Cagney and me in that French dubbed picture I’d seen in Paris. It is true that Italian and French are the languages of the large emotion. It is true that often I have had the need to augment my speech with the passionate gesture. It is sometimes too much for our language. I was captivated as I listened to her. When Anna left, she embraced me and said, “Arrivederci, Bette.” Little B.D. called down the stairs to her, “Arrivederci, Anna.” “Arrivederci, piccolina!” she called back. Gary wiped his brow and fell into a chair. He usually had just me to contend with. “The two of you! There was enough electricity in this room to light all of New York City!”
It was on that sofa that I would lie on a Saturday afternoon, the curtains drawn, watching the afternoon film. They were generally films from the thirties and fourties, with Bette Davis being my favourite. I loved her in absolutely anything, although the ones that instantly come to mind are Now, Voyager, Jezebel and All About Eve. She was unique; there was an exciting, un-Hollywoodish reality and lack of vanity in her performances, and she always played strong women who had to be reckoned with, who were not there simply to function as a fantasy to attract and please men. Now occasionally on a Saturday when no one is in, I try to re-create the Saturday afternoon of my childhood, the curtains closed, lying on the sofa with toast and jam, hoping that Bette will appear, brave and insolent, brazenly cutting a swathe through life.
That’s Another Story: The Autobiography
Miss Davis, in the years I’ve been interviewing actors and actresses 90% of them have told me they are basically very shy. Are you basically very shy?
Well, if anybody is basically very shy… Let’s put it this way: one can be shy personally, but I don’t really understand it, because of all the professions to go into where shyness is not a requisite, it is becoming an actress. So I sort of… think sometimes it’s a cop-out, a little bit of a cop-out.
thank you very very much!! :3
I felt a certain envy for what I assumed was Marilyn’s more-than-obvious popularity. Here was a girl who didn’t know what it was like to be lonely. Then, I noticed how shy she was, and I think now that she was as lonely as I was. Lonelier. It was something I felt, a deep well of loneliness she was trying to fill.
That was something George Sanders said in an interview, so it’s really his word against Bette’s. We will never know for sure what happened so it’s always up to us to decide what to believe. Bette never talked much about Marilyn but the few things I happened to read were always very nice, such as this one:
Interestingly enough not Gary, not Hugh Marlowe, not any of the men in the cast thought she was attractive at all. And I told everybody, “Wait. She’s gonna make it.”
Bette Davis “Woman of the Week” on the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, 1973.
Just think about it, four husbands! But she’s just like you, Dean… She can’t wait to get her hands on a fifth!
Any of the times that I looked good, or even pretty, it was thanks to a great cameraman. My career was never based on beauty.
wow, what a lovely compliment! thank you so much! ;’)