Bette Davis


Bette Davis

Original Name Ruth Elizabeth Davis
Lowell, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 6 Oct 1989 (aged 81)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, Departement des Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France
Burial Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Courts of Remembrance section, Map #A37, Distinguished Memorial – Sarcophagus 1; large white tomb to the left of the entrance.
Memorial ID 258 View Source
Suggest Edits

Actress. Bette Davis received world-wide recognition as an award-winning American actress during the 20th Century. Known to have a strong, independent personality, she was called “ The First Lady of the American Screen,” making over 100 films in her nearly sixty-year acting career and by being the “first woman” in many categories, opening doors for other up-and-coming actresses in a mainly male occupation. She was born Ruth Elizabeth Davis. Prior to her tenth birthday, her father, a patent attorney, abandoned his family; this followed with her parents' divorce; and then relocating to New York City, where she and her one-year younger sister, Barbara, were raised by her mother, Ruth Favor Davis. She and her sister attended private boarding schools. Upon graduating from her mother's alma mater, Cushing Academy, she enrolled in John Murray Anderson’s Dramatic School. She made her acting debut on Broadway in the 1929 performance, “Broken Dishes,” which followed with a role in “Solid South.” By 1930 she was in Hollywood for a screen test for Universal Studios. She signed a contract with Universal Studios, but after six small roles, she signed a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers Studios, where in the 1932 film “The Man Who Played God” put her on the path to stardom. This followed with her 1934 film “Of Human Bondage,” which was very successful with her receiving a “write-in” vote for a Best Actress Oscar. For the 1935 film, “Dangerous,” she received a nomination for the Best Actress Oscar, which she did receive. This was the first-ever Oscar that a Warner Brothers female actor had received. After paying for breaking her Warner Brothers' contract, she traveled to England for what she thought was a better role, but returned to Warner Brothers for the 1939 film, “Jezebel.” For that role, she was the recipient of a second Best Actress Oscar, and received Oscar nominations the next five years in a row. By 1942, she was the highest paid actress in Hollywood. During World War II, she was active in establishing Army canteens in New York City and Hollywood. By 1949 her career was declining and her long contract with Warner Brothers was over. In the 1950 film “All About Eve,” she received her eighth Academy Award nomination. In 1952 she received her ninth Academy Award nomination in “The Star.” Playing Queen Elizabeth I, she took the lead in the 1955 film, “The Virgin Queen.” She accepted the lead female role in two horror films, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” in 1962, which gave her the last Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in 1963, and in 1964 “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.” She married four times, had a daughter with her third husband, and adopted two children with her fourth. She had a stroke but continued to act making her last performance in the 1987 film, “The Wales of August.” She was known for her large “Bette Davis' eyes,” flaming red hair with a fiery temperament to match, and a tart sarcastic tongue, which led to unhappy marriages, estranged children, lost friendships, and feuds with her studio and other acting colleagues. All this led to much publicity, which was at times negative. She was the recipient of a Primetime Television Emmy Award for her role in the 1979 made-for-television movie, “ Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter .” She received Emmy nominations for her 1983 supporting role in “Little Gloria,” her 1980 lead role in “White Mama,” and in 1974 for the “Warner Brothers 50-year Salute Award.” When she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 75, she had a mastectomy and suffered yet another stroke nine days later. After that ordeal, she remarked, “Growing old is not for sissies.” In 1987 she was the recipient of the Kennedy Center honors. While accepting an award two years later at a Film Festival in Spain, she became seriously ill and was transported to Neuilly-sur-Seine, France to be admitted to an American hospital, where she died from the complications of breast cancer. Her remains were repatriated to Los Angeles where a small graveside service was attended by only her family and a few close friends. Later a public memorial service was held on a Hollywood sound stage. During her lifetime, she received many honors: The first woman to receive the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1977; the first woman to be president of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences; the New York Film Critics Circle Award; the Volpi Cup Award from the Venice Film Festival; the Cannes Film Festival Award; and for using her own money to transform an abandoned nightclub in Hollywood into a canteen for servicemen during WWII, she received the Defense Department's highest civilian award, the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal. She shares her white marble sarcophagus with her mother and sister. On top of the sarcophagus, a marble statue of a Greek goddess holding a bouquet of flowers watches over them. A few months prior to her death she said, "You know what they'll write on my tombstone, 'she did it the hard way,' and that did happen. In her memory, the managers of her estate created The Bette Davis Foundation, which provides financial assistance to promising young actors and actresses. American actress Meryl Streep received the first Bette Davis Lifetime Achievement Award at Boston University in 1998; Streep had been nominated for a record-setting 21 Best Actress Oscars and received three. Rescuing her two long-lost Oscars, actor Steven Spielberg recently purchased them at two different auctions a year a part and donated both for safe keeping to the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Bio by: Linda Davis


"She did it the hard way"

Family Members



In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees



How famous was Bette Davis?

Current rating:

1,417 votes

to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 258
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Bette Davis (5 Apr 1908–6 Oct 1989), Find a Grave Memorial ID 258, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .