Bigger than life, born on this day in Lowell, Massachusetts, Ruth Elizabeth Davis (1908-1989) was a tomboy who liked to be called "Fred." She blossomed into one of Hollywood's most original and charismatic actresses--Bette Davis, with those incredible eyes.
"Strong women only marry weak men," she once responded when asked about her failed relationships.
Film goers loved Davis' on-screen strength and off-screen candid views. Women identified with her sufferings in the name of love. Critics hailed her intensity and wit. She won Oscars for Dangerous (1935) and Jezebel (1938).
"I do not regret one professional enemy I have made," admitted the outspoken actress. "Any actor who doesn't dare to make an enemy should get out of the business."
As Margo Channing, the aging Broadway star in All About Eve (1950), Davis warned while swallowing her martini, "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride."
In the thriller Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962), Davis wore rice-white makeup and used black kohl around her eyes, in imitation of the silent stars. She wanted drama and impact.
"Attempt the impossible in order to improve your work," she advised.
Davis and co-star Joan Crawford fought bitterly off-camera, but still rocked the screen. They followed their success with Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964), an even bigger hit.
"Old age is not for sissies," Davis declared.
The screen icon never stopped dreaming, never gave into fear, and continued acting, despite a stroke and breast cancer diagnosis. Not long before her death, she said, "You know what they'll write on my tombstone? 'She did it the hard way.'"
More Film-Making Quotations
Believe it and make it so.