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Fast Facts

Birth Name: Ruth Elizabeth Davis
Nickname: The Fifth Warner Brother, Fred, The First Lady of American Screen

Birth Date: April 5, 1908
Birth Place: Lowell, Massachusetts
Death Date: October 6, 1989
Death Place: American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Burial Location: Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills; Courts of Remembrance, Los Angeles, California

Height: 5'3 ½"
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Blue
Measurements: 34C-21-34 (36C-25-35 in 1940)

Occupation: Actress, author, producer
Nationality: American
Schooling: Attended Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, Massachusetts; Mariarden School of Dancing; studied acting at Robert Milton-John Murray Anderson School of the Theatre, New York.
Famous Tagline/Quote: "Old age is no place for sissies."

Parents: Harlow Morrell Davis and Ruthie Favor Davis
Siblings: Barbara Davis
Children: B.D. (Barbara Davis Sherry) Hyman, Michael Merrill, Margot Merrill Spouse(s): Married Harmon Oscar Nelson (a bandleader), August 18, 1932 (divorced); married Arthur Farnsworth (a businessman), December, 1940 (died, August, 1943); married William Grant Sherry (an artist), November 30, 1945 (divorced); married Gary Merrill (an actor), August, 1950 (divorced);

Broadway Debut: "Broken Dishes" (1929)
Film Debut: "Bad Sister" (1931)

Did You Know?

  • On her tombstone is written "She did it the hard way."
  • Lucille Ball was her classmate at John Murray Anderson's Dramatic School.
  • Joan Crawford and Davis had feuded for years and during the making of "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" Bette had a Coca-Cola machine installed on the set due to Joan Crawford's affiliation with Pepsi. (Joan was the widow of Pepsi's CEO.) Joan got her revenge by putting weights in her pockets when Davis had to drag Crawford across the floor during certain scenes.
  • Nominated for an amazing 10 Best Actress Oscars She won the Best Actress Oscar twice, for "Dangerous" in 1935 and "Jezebel" in 1938.
  • In 1977, Bette was the first woman to receive the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • In 1980, she was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, the Defense Department's highest civilian award, for founding and running the Hollywood Canteen during World War II.
  • Her real Christian name was Ruth. The Bette came from Balzac's novel "Cousin Bette."