April 5, 1908
Lowell, Massachusetts, United States
October 6, 1989
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Bette Davis was born Ruth Elizabeth Davis on Apr. 5, 1908 in Lowell, MA, and moved to New York City with her mother and younger sister at age 13. After graduating from prep school, Davis joined George Cukor's Rochester, NY-based stock theater company, through which she accrued parts in productions like "Broadway" and "The Wild Duck" in 1929. That same year, she made her Broadway debut with the play "Broken Dishes." The following year, Davis moved to Hollywood to transition to screen acting; her earliest film roles included "The Bad Sister" (1931) and "Waterloo Bridge" (1931). It was the following year that Davis earned her big break: a role in "The Man Who Would Be God" (1932), which launched her career in earnest. Her next big winner was "Of Human Bondage" (1934), which earned Davis her first Academy Award nomination. Her next nomination and first win came one year later with "Dangerous" (1935). Success followed Davis as she then appeared opposite Humphrey Bogart in "The Petrified Forest" (1936) and in "Marked Woman" (1937), and then won another Oscar for her work in "Jezebel" (1938). The following year was especially fortuitous for Davis, with box office smashes like "Dark Victory" (1939), "The Old Maid" (1939), "Juarez" (1939), and "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" (1939). Likewise, successful pictures to follow included "The Letter" (1940) and "The Little Foxes" (1941). 1943 saw the death of Davis' then-husband Arthur Farnsworth, which led to a slight hiccup in her productivity. Following this, she endured poor reception to a series of her features, namely "A Stolen Life" (1946) and "Beyond the Forest" (1949). However, it was next that perhaps her most iconic role would find her: that of Margo in "All About Eve" (1950). Successes to follow would include "The Star" (1952), "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962), and the family films "Return from Witch Mountain" (1978) and "Watcher in the Woods" (1980). Davis died at age 81 on Oct. 6, 1989 following a battle with cancer.