Ruth Elizabeth (Bette) Davis

Born: 5 Apr 1908, Lowell, MA
Died: 6 Oct 1989, Paris, France


Common Ancestor:
Thomasine Lumpkin
9th Gr Grandmother
of Merle G Ladd
7th Gr Grandmother
of Ruth E Davis
Mary Mayo Sarah Mayo
Edward Bangs Mary Freeman
Jonathan Bangs Samuel Hinckley
Allen Bangs Josiah Hinckley
Phebe Bangs Kezia Hinckley
Allen Crowell Eliza Seavey
Charles Crowell Eliza J Morrell
Freeman S Crowell Harlow M Davis
Graceland M Crowell Ruth E Davis
Allen D Ladd  
Merle G Ladd  
Relationship to Merle G Ladd:
8th Cousin, 2 Times Removed
Ruth Elizabeth Davis was born April 5, 1908, in Lowell, Massachusetts. She passed away from cancer October 6, 1989, in France. Her parents divorced when she was a child and she and her sister were raised by her mother, Ruthie. Bette demanded attention practically from birth, which led to her pursuing a career in acting.

After graduation from Cushing Academy she was refused admittance to Eva Le Gallienne's Manhattan Civic Repertory because she was considered insincere and frivolous. She enrolled in John Murray Anderson's Dramatic School and was the star pupil.

She was in the off-Broadway play "The Earth Between" (1923), and her Broadway debut in 1929 was in "Broken Dishes". She also appeared in "Solid South." Late in 1930 she was hired by Universal. When she arrived in Hollywood, the studio representative who went to meet her train left without her because he could find no one who looked like a movie star. An official at Universal complained she had "as much sex appeal as Slim Summerville" and her performance in The Bad Sister (1931) didn't impress. In 1932 she signed a seven-year deal with Warner Brothers Pictures. She became a star after her appearance in The Man Who Played God (1932). Warners loaned her to RKO in 1934 for Of Human Bondage (1934), in which she was a smash. She had a significant number of write-in votes for the Best Actress Oscar, but didn't win (she finally did win it for Dangerous (1935) and Jezebel (1938)). She constantly fought with Warners and tried to get out of her contract because she felt she wasn't receiving the top roles an Oscar-winning actress deserved, and eventually sued the studio. When she came back after the lawsuit her roles improved dramatically. The only role she didn't get that she wanted was Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939). Warners wouldn't loan her to David O. Selznick unless he hired Errol Flynn to play Rhett Butler, which both Selznick and Davis thought was a terrible choice.

It was rumored she had numerous affairs, among them George Brent and William Wyler, and she was married four times, all of which ended in divorce (she admitted her career always came first).

She made many successful films in the 1940s, but each picture was weaker than the last and by the time her Warner Brothers contract had ended in 1949, she had been reduced to appearing in such films as the unintentionally hilarious Beyond the Forest (1949). She made a huge comeback in 1950 when she replaced an ill Claudette Colbert in (and received an Oscar nomination for) All About Eve (1950). She worked in films through the 1950s, but her career eventually came to a standstill, and in 1961 she placed a now famous "Job Wanted" ad in the trade papers.

She received an Oscar nomination for her role as a demented former child star in 1962's What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), which brought her a new degree of stardom. In 1977 she received the AFI's Lifetime Achievement Award and in 1979 she won a Best Actress Emmy for Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter (1979) (TV).