Bette Davis was an American actress renowned for her intense, spirited performances, distinctive eyes, and formidable on-screen presence. Born Ruth Elizabeth Davis on April 5, 1908, in Lowell, Massachusetts, she had a career that spanned over six decades, with her heyday in the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s.
Her acting talents were honed at John Murray Anderson's Dramatic School in New York City, and she began her Broadway career in 1929. Davis made her Hollywood debut in 1931 with Universal Pictures, and after transferring to Warner Brothers in 1932, she became one of the studio's most valuable stars.
Over her career, Davis was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning two Oscars for Best Actress for her performances in "Dangerous" (1935) and "Jezebel" (1938). Notable films from her extensive body of work include "Of Human Bondage" (1934), "Dark Victory" (1939), "The Letter" (1940), "The Little Foxes" (1941), "Now, Voyager" (1942), and "All About Eve" (1950), for which she received much critical acclaim.
Known for her willingness to play unsympathetic characters, Davis fought against the stereotypical roles often offered to women at the time, leading her to take on challenging and unconventional roles. She earned a reputation as a perfectionist with an uncompromising nature, sometimes leading to disputes with studio executives and directors.
In addition to her film career, Davis also took roles on stage and television, including a notable late-career television appearance in the miniseries "Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter" (1979), for which she won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress.
Beyond her acting career, Bette Davis was the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She also cofounded the Hollywood Canteen during World War II, which provided entertainment to U.S. service members.
Her personal life was as dramatic as her screen presence, with four marriages and well-publicized disputes, including a long-standing rivalry with fellow actress Joan Crawford, which culminated in their only film together, "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962).
Davis continued acting into her later years but faced health challenges, including breast cancer and a stroke. Her final appearances on screen were in the late 1980s, and she continued to receive accolades for her life's work, including the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1977.
Bette Davis passed away on October 6, 1989, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, leaving behind a legacy that has greatly influenced the acting profession and the perception of women in Hollywood.
For more detailed information about Bette Davis' life and career, please refer to her biography, "The Lonely Life," and the numerous biographical accounts written about her. Her legacy is also preserved through the Bette Davis Foundation and the vast collection of her films available on various media platforms.