Davis, Bette

Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on March 5, 2004


    The leading lady of Warner Brothers during the thirties and forties (one nickname for her was “The Fifth Warner Brother”) who was noted for having stormy relations with production head Jack Warner. Davis nearly won an Oscar in 1934 on a write-in vote for her role as the nasty waitress in Of Human Bondage, and did win for a less consequential role in the tearjerker Dangerous in 1935. She won another Oscar for her role in Jezebel in 1938, and gave a memorable performance in All About Eve (1950). Davis holds the record for Oscar nominations, according to Katz, with ten. Davis was best known for playing hard-nosed selfish women in a number of tearjerkers.

    Davis herself is caricatured wonderfully, reprising her role in The Petrified Forest (1936) with Leslie Howard in She Was An Acrobat’s Daughter (Freleng, 1937), and again quite well in Hollywood Daffy (Freleng, 1936). Davis is caricatured in what appears to be her role opposite Errol Flynn in The Private Life of Elizabeth and Essex in Malibu Beach Party (Freleng, 1940). Bugs does a tearjerker turn in The Big Snooze (Clampett, 1946), attempting to convince Elmer Fudd not to quit cartoons, pausing briefly to comment to the audience that Bette Davis was going to hate him for it. Davis is also seen in The Coo-coo Nut Grove (Freleng, 1936). Daffy attempts to lure Porky away from the cartoon business by dangling the prospect of being leading man opposite Davis in You Ought to Be in Pictures (Freleng, 1940). A table for Davis is reserved at Ciro’s (one of the great Hollywood hotspots of the 30s and 40s) in Hollywood Steps Out (Avery, 1941), next to the one for Kate Smith.

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