5 Facts About Bette Davis: Those Eyes, A Presidential Dis, Famous Last Words & More

Bette Davis was born on April 5, 1908. The trailblazing Hollywood icon survived over half a century in show business, multiple marriages, a mastectomy and stroke — but never lost her spit-fire comebacks and tell-it-like-it-is persona.
Bette Davis

Bette Davis (Photo: via Bluxome Street Post)

Bette Davis, "The First Lady of American Screen," was born on April 5, 1908. Though she stood tall at a diminutive 5'3", Davis had a larger than life persona and a career that spanned from the beginning of Hollywood's Golden Age until the late 1980s.

Born To Be Bette

Bette Davis was born Ruth Elizabeth Davis and took the name “Bette” from French author Honoré de Balzac’s novel "Cousin Bette."

"I do not wish to be told what to do!” – Bette Davis

"Bette Davis Eyes"

After Kim Carnes’ song "Bette Davis Eyes" became a hit, Davis wrote the singer letters saying she was a fan and thanked her for making her “a part of history."

"The best time I ever had with Joan Crawford was when I pushed her down the stairs in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" – Bette Davis

Bette vs. Joan

Bette Davis

Bette Davis (Photo: via The 80s Man)

The epic feud between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis and Joan Crawford is well-known and continues to live on in Hollywood lore. In one infamous incident, Crawford found herself on the board of the Pepsi Cola Company as the wife of its deceased CEO. Davis in turn had a Coca-Cola machine installed on the set of a movie they were filming together.

"Hollywood always wanted me to be pretty, but I fought for realism." – Bette Davis

Telling It Like It Is

Full of opinions and not shy about sharing them, in one of her autobiographies, Davis called her former co-star Ronald Reagan dull and Faye Dunaway unprofessional.

Ronald Reagan with Bette Davis, White House photo, Coutesy Ronald Reagan Library, official government record, PD

Ronald Reagan with Bette Davis (Photo: White House, Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library)

“Old age is no place for sissies.” – Bette Davis

Last Words

Davis is buried at Forest Lawn cemetery in Los Angeles. Her tombstone reads, “She did it the hard way.”

Bette Davis tombstone