Theatre, Film, and Television Biographies
Jack Dabdoub to Anthony John Denison
Bette Davis Biography (1908-1989)
Born Ruth Elizabeth Davis, April 5, 1908, in Lowell, MA; died of cancer, October 6, 1989, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France; daughter of Harlow Morrell (a patent attorney) and Ruth Elizabeth (a portrait photographer; maiden name, Favor)Davis; married Harmon Oscar Nelson, Jr. (a band leader), August 18, 1932 (divorced, 1937); married Arthur Farnsworth (a businessman), December 31, 1940 (died, August 25, 1943); married William Grant Sherry (an artist), November 30, 1945 (divorced, July 4, 1950); married Gary Merrill (an actor), July 28, 1950 (divorced, 1960); children: Barbara ("BD"; third marriage); Margot and Michael (fourth marriage; both adopted).
- Birth Details
- April 5, 1908
- Lowell, Massachusetts, United States
- Death Details
- October 6, 1989
- Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Credits; STAGE APPEARANCES
- STAGE DEBUT--Broadway, Lyceum Theatre, Rochester, NY, 1928.
- OFF-BROADWAY DEBUT--Floy Jennings, The Earth Between, Provincetown Playhouse, 1929.
- BROADWAY DEBUT--The Lady from the Sea, Bijou Theatre, 1929.
- LONDON DEBUT--An Informal Evening with Bette Davis, Palladium, 1975.
- Elaine Bumpstead, Broken Dishes, Ritz Theatre, New York City, 1929.
- Dinah, Mr. Pim Passes By, Cape Players, Cape Dennis Playhouse, Cape Dennis, MA, 1930.
- Alabama Follensby, Solid South, Lyceum Theatre, New York City, 1930.
- ensemble, Two's Company (revue), Shubert Theatre, Detriot, MI, then AlvinTheatre, New York City, both 1952.
- Maxine Faulk, The Night of the Iguana, Blackstone Theatre, Chicago, IL, then Royale Theatre, New York City, both 1961.
- Miss Lilly Moffatt, Miss Moffatt, Shubert Theatre, Philadelphia, PA, 1974.
- The World of Carl Sandburg (staged reading), State Theatre, Portland, ME,1959, then Henry Miller's Theatre, New York City, 1960.
- Legendary Ladies of the Movies: An Informal Evening with Bette Davis, Town Hall, New York City, 1973.
- Also appeared in Excess Baggage, Yellow, and The Squall, all George Cukor/George Kondolf Stock Company, Temple Theatre, Rochester, NY, 1928.
Credits; MAJOR TOURS
- Hedvig, The Wild Duck, Blanche Yurka Company, U.S. cities, 1929.
- ensemble, Two's Company (revue), U.S. cities, 1952-53.
- The World of Carl Sandburg (staged reading), U.S. cities, 1959-60.
- Legendary Ladies of the Movies: An Informal Evening with Bette Davis, U.S., Canadian, and New Zealand cities, 1973-75.
- Miss Bette Davis on Stage and Screen, U.K. cities, 1975.
Credits; FILM APPEARANCES
- FILM DEBUT--Laura Madison, Bad Sister, Universal, 1931.
- Janet, Waterloo Bridge, Universal, 1931.
- Margaret Carter, Seed, Universal, 1931.
- Madge Norwood, Cabin in the Cotton, Warner Brothers/First National, 1932.
- Kay Russell, The Dark Horse, Warner Brothers, 1932.
- Peggy Gardner, Hell's House, Capital Films Exchange, 1932.
- Grace Blair, The Man Who Played God (also known as The Silent Voice), Warner Brothers, 1932.
- Peggy, The Menace, Columbia, 1932.
- Malbro, The Rich Are Always with Us, Warner Brothers/First National, 1932.
- Dallas O'Mara, So Big, Warner Brothers, 1932.
- Ruth Westcott, Three on a Match, Warner Brothers/First National, 1932.
- Mary Lucy, Way Back Home (also known as Old Greatheart and Other People'sBusiness), RKO, 1932.
- Norma Phillips, Bureau of Missing Persons, Warner Brothers, 1933.
- Helen Bauer, Ex-Lady, Warner Brothers, 1933.
- Alabama, Parachute Jumper, Warner Brothers, 1933.
- Jenny Hartland, The Working Man (also known as The Adopted Father), Warner Brothers, 1933.
- Fay, 20,000 Years in Sing Sing, Warner Brothers, 1933.
- Norma Frank, The Big Shakedown, Warner Brothers, 1934.
- Lynn Mason, Fashions of 1934 (also known as Fashions), First National, 1934.
- Arlene Bradford, Fog Over Frisco, Warner Brothers, 1934.
- Patricia Barclay and Ruth Smith, Housewife, Warner Brothers, 1934.
- Joan Martin, Jimmy the Gent, Warner Brothers, 1934.
- Mildred Rogers, Of Human Bondage, RKO, 1934. Marie Roark, Bordertown, Warner Brothers, 1935.
- Ellen Garfield, Front Page Woman, Warner Brothers, 1935.
- Miriam Brady, The Girl from Tenth Avenue (also known as Men on Her Mind),Warner Brothers/First National, 1935.
- Julie Carston, Special Agent, Warner Brothers, 1935.
- Joyce Heath, Dangerous, Warner Brothers, 1936.
- Daisy Appleby, The Golden Arrow, Warner Brothers/First National, 1936.
- Gabrielle Maple, The Petrified Forest, Warner Brothers, 1936.
- Valerie Purvis, Satan Met a Lady, Warner Brothers, 1936.
- Joyce Arden, It's Love I'm After, Warner Brothers/First National, 1937.
- Louise "Fluff" Phillips, Kid Galahad (also known as The Battling Bellhop), Warner Brothers, 1937.
- Mary Dwight, Marked Woman, Warner Brothers, 1937.
- Mary Donnell, That Certain Woman, Warner Brothers, 1937.
- Julie Marsden, Jezebel, Warner Brothers, 1938.
- Louise Elliott, The Sisters, Warner Brothers, 1938.
- Judith Traherne, Dark Victory, Warner Brothers/First National, 1939.
- Empress Carlotta Von Habsburg, Juarez, Warner Brothers, 1939.
- Charlotte Lovell, The Old Maid, Warner Brothers/First National, 1939.
- Queen Elizabeth I, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (also known as Elizabeth the Queen), Warner Brothers, 1939.
- Henriette Deluzy Desportes, All This and Heaven Too, Warner Brothers, 1940.
- Leslie Crosbie, The Letter, Warner Brothers, 1940.
- nurse, Shining Victory, Warner Brothers, 1941.
- Joan Winfield, The Bride Came C.O.D., Warner Brothers, 1941.
- Maggie Patterson, The Great Lie, Warner Brothers, 1941.
- Regina Hubbard Giddens, The Little Foxes, RKO, 1941.
- Stanley Timberlake, In This Our Life, Warner Brothers, 1942.
- Maggie Cutler, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Warner Brothers, 1942.
- Charlotte Vale, Now, Voyager, Warner Brothers, 1942.
- Katharine "Kit" Marlowe, Old Acquaintance, Warner Brothers/First National, 1943.
- as herself, Thank Your Lucky Stars, Warner Brothers, 1943.
- Sara Muller, Watch on the Rhine, Warner Brothers, 1943.
- as herself, Hollywood Canteen, Warner Brothers, 1944.
- Fanny Trellis Skeffington, Mr. Skeffington, Warner Brothers/First National, 1944.
- Miss Lilly Moffat, The Corn Is Green, Warner Brothers, 1945.
- Christine Radcliffe, Deception, Warner Brothers, 1946.
- Kate and Pat Bosworth, A Stolen Life, Warner Brothers, 1946.
- Linda Gilman, June Bride, Warner Brothers, 1948.
- Susan Grieve, Winter Meeting, Warner Brothers/First National, 1948.
- Rosa Moline, Beyond the Forest, Warner Brothers, 1949.
- Margo Channing, All About Eve, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1950.
- Joyce Ramsey, Payment on Demand (also known as The Story of a Divorce), RKO, 1951.
- Janet Frobisher, Another Man's Poison, United Artists, 1952.
- Marie Hoke, Phone Call from a Stranger, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1952.
- Margaret Elliot, The Star, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1953.
- Queen Elizabeth I, The Virgin Queen, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1955.
- Aggie Hurley, The Catered Affair, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), 1956.
- Alicia Hull, Storm Center, Columbia, 1956.
- Catherine the Great, John Paul Jones, Warner Brothers, 1959.
- Dowager Countess de Gue, The Scapegoat, MGM, 1959.
- Apple Annie/"Mrs. E. Worthington Manville," Pocketful of Miracles, UnitedArtists, 1961.
- Jane Hudson, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Warner Brothers, 1962.
- Margaret de Lorca and Edith Phillips, Dead Ringer (also known as Dead Image), Warner Brothers, 1964.
- Dino's mother, The Empty Canvas (also known as La Noia: L'Ennui et sa diversion and L'Erotisme), Embassy, 1964.
- Charlotte Hollis, Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Twentieth Century- Fox,1964.
- Mrs. Gerald Hayden, Where Love Has Gone, Paramount, 1964.
- title role, The Nanny, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1965.
- Mrs. Taggart, The Anniversary, Hammer, 1968.
- Title role, Bunny O'Hare, American International, 1971.
- Wanda Fleming, Connecting Rooms, London Screen, 1971.
- millionairess, Lo scopane scientifico (also known as The Scientific Cardplayer and The Game), CIC, 1972.
- Aunt Elizabeth, Burnt Offerings, United Artists, 1976.
- Mrs. Van Schuyler, Death on the Nile, Paramount, 1978.
- Letha Wedge, Return from Witch Mountain, Buena Vista, 1978.
- Mrs. Aylwood, The Watcher in the Woods, Buena Vista, 1980.
- Libby Strong, The Whales of August, Alive, 1987.
- Miranda, Wicked Stepmother, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1989.
- Also appeared in Stars on Horseback (documentary), 1943; Second Victory Loan Campaign Fund (short film), 1945; A Present with a Future (short film), 1943; A Day at Santa Anita (short film), Warner Brothers.
Credits; FILM WORK
- Producer, A Stolen Life, Warner Brothers, 1946.
Credits; TELEVISION APPEARANCES; PILOTS
- Beatrice Enters, Stranded (broadcast as an episode of Telephone Time), ABC, 1957.
- the agent, The Star Maker (broadcast as an episode of Studio 57) syndicated, 1958.
- title role, The Elisabeth McQueeney Story (broadcast as an episode of Wagon Train), NBC, 1959.
- Judge Meredith, The Judge and Jake Wyler, NBC, 1972.
- title role, Madame Sin, ABC, 1972.
- Laura Trent, Hotel, ABC, 1983.
- Also Hello Mother, Goodbye, NBC, 1973.
- Marie Hoke, "Crackup," Twentieth Century-Fox Hour, CBS, 1956.
- Dolly Madison, "Footnote on a Dolly," Ford Theatre, ABC, 1957.
- Ella Lindstrom, Wagon Train, NBC, 1959.
- Della Miller, The Virginian, NBC, 1962.
- Also Person to Person, CBS, 1956; "With Malice Toward One," General Electric Theatre, CBS, 1957; "For Better, For Worse," Schlitz Playhouse of Stars,CBS, 1957; "The Cold Touch," General Electric Theatre, CBS, 1958; "Fraction of a Second," Suspicion, NBC, 1958; "Out There--Darkness," Alfred Hitchcock Theatre, CBS, 1959; "Dark Morning," The Dupont Show with June Allyson, CBS, 1959; Wagon Train, NBC, 1961; The Andy Williams Show, NBC, 1962; Perry Mason, CBS, 1963; The Tonight Show, NBC, 1964 and 1968; Gunsmoke, CBS, 1966; The MikeDouglas Show, syndicated, 1966; The Milton Berle Variety Show, ABC, 1966; ItTakes a Thief, ABC, 1970; The Dick Cavett Show, ABC, 1971; The David Frost Show, syndicated, 1971; This Is Your Life, syndicated, 1972; The Dean Martin Show, NBC, 1973; "Directed by William Wyler," American Masters, PBS, 1987; Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, NBC.
- Mrs. Elliot, Scream, Pretty Peggy, ABC, 1973.
- Minnie Kennedy, The Disappearance of Aimee, NBC, 1976.
- Widow Fortune, Dark Secret of Harvest Home, NBC, 1978.
- Lucy Mason, Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter, CBS, 1979.
- Billie Dupree, Skyward, NBC, 1980.
- Estelle Malone, White Mama, CBS, 1980.
- Elizabeth Winfield, Family Reunion, NBC, 1981.
- Alice Claypoole Vanderbilt, Little Gloria ... Happy at Last, NBC, 1982.
- Esther Cimino, A Piano for Mrs. Cimino, CBS, 1982.
- Mini Dwyer, Right of Way, HBO, 1983.
- Carrie Louise Serrocold, Agatha Christie's "Murder with Mirrors," CBS, 1985.
- Hannah Loftin, As Summers Die, HBO, 1986.
- "The Movie Crazy Years," NET Playhouse, PBS, 1971.
- Johnny Carson Presents the Sun City Scandals '72, NBC, 1972.
- Warner Brothers' Movies--A Fifty Year Salute, NBC, 1973.
- The American Film Institute Salute to Henry Fonda, CBS, 1978.
- Variety '77--The Year in Entertainment, CBS, 1978.
- The American Film Institute Salute to Frank Capra, CBS, 1982.
- The Barbara Walters Special, ABC, 1987.
Credits; RADIO APPEARANCES; SERIES
- Host and narrator, The Whispering Streets, ABC, 1958.
- Title role, "Elizabeth the Queen," Judith Traherne, "Dark Victory," and in "The Small Servant," Hollywood Players, CBS, 1946.
- Also Your Hollywood Parade, NBC, 1937; Arch Oboler's Plays, NBC, 1939; "Of Human Bondage" and "Baby," Everyman's Theatre, NBC, 1940; Plays for Americans, NBC, 1942; Julie Marsden, "Jezebel," Academy Award Theatre, 1946; Linda Gilman, "June Bride" and Julie Marsden, "Jezebel," Screen Directors' Playhouse, NBC; "Alien Corn," The Theatre Guild on the Air, CBS; "Skylark," Ford Theatre, CBS; Screen Guild Theatre, CBS; "Of Human Bondage," Everything for the Boys,NBC; Shell Chateau, NBC; Millions for Defense, CBS; Prudential Family Hourof Stars, CBS; Charlotte Vale, "Now, Voyager," Lux Radio Theatre.
- "Chicago, Germany," Treasury Star Parade.
- Texaco Star Theatre. Also Tess Harding, Woman of the Year, 1951; Madame von Meck, Beloved.
- Thank Your Lucky Stars (original soundtrack), Hollywood Soundstage, 1943.
- Two's Company (original cast recording), RCA, 1952.
- Fifty Years of Film, Warner Brothers, 1973.
- Miss Bette Davis, EMI, 1976.
- "Hush ... Hush Sweet Charlotte," MGM, 1965.
- (Author of introduction) Bette Davis (biography), Robinson, 1948.
- (with Sanford Doty) The Lonely Life: An Autobiography, Putnam, 1962.
- (author of commentary) Mother Goddam: The Story of the Career of Bette Davis, Hawthorn, 1974.
- (with Michael Herskowitz) This 'n' That, Putnam, 1987.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
- [New York] Newsday, October 8, 1989.
- New York Times, October 8, 1989.
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