Bette Davis

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Bette Davis in The Petrified Forest (1936)

Ruth Elizabeth "Bette" Davis (April 5, 1908October 6, 1989) was a two-time Academy Award-winning American actress of film, television and theatre. Noted for her willingness to play unsympathetic characters, she was highly regarded for her performances in a range of film genres; from contemporary crime melodramas to historical and period films and occasional comedies, though her greatest successes were romantic dramas. In 1999, Davis was placed second, behind Katharine Hepburn, on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest female stars of all time.


  • I love my profession. I would never stop. Relax? I relax when I work. It's my life.
  • 'In the beginning was the Word,' and you must not be tempted with a script just because you have a great part. You want a great role to play, but the whole - the whole - must be good. It'll never succeed if it's just the role you like.
    • Louise Sweeney (December 28, 1987) "Bette Davis: On the heels of a new honor and a new film, a screen legend looks back over her 60-year career", Christian Science Monitor, p. 19.
  • I think Mr. Reagan has done very well under very difficult circumstances. He's had terrific problems physically and he's managed them very well. But my God, the witch hunt today! Is there any human being alive who hasn't done something bad in their youth - like maybe smoke marijuana once? And this man (Judge Ginsburg) found it necessary to admit it! My God! It would be like Mr. Jack Kennedy sitting down and listing all the women (he knew) before he got in.
  • I'm the nicest goddamn dame that ever lived.
  • May each of my grandsons know, at an early age, what his life's ambition is -- and may he be successful in his pursuit of that goal.
    • Cathy Collison (November 16, 1983) "Savitch Remembered Crim In Will", Detroit Free Press, p. 14D.


  • You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good . . . Joan Crawford is dead. Good. (She notoriously detested Crawford, which began over a feud over the affections of the actor Franchot Tone)
  • Miss Bankhead isn't well enough known nationally to warrant my imitating her. (When asked to do an imitation of Tallulah Bankhead on television) Bankhead resented Davis portraying her Broadway Roles on film (Dark Victory, The Little Foxes) and spoke of it incessantly, though Davis privately expressed great admiration for Bankhead.
    • Colin Jarman, The Book of Poisonous Quotes, McGraw-Hill Professional, 1993, ISBN 0809236818, p. 130.
  • Brought up to respect the conventions, love had to end in marriage. I'm afraid it did.
    • Ashton Applewhite, Tripp Evans, Andrew Frothingham, And I Quote: The Definitive Collection of Quotes, Sayings, and Jokes for the Contemporary Speechmaker, Macmillan, 1992, ISBN 0312068972, p. 383.
  • Discipline is a symbol of caring to a child. Discipline is guidance. If there is love, there is no such thing as being too tough with a child.
    • Noah BenShea, Great Quotes to Inspire Great Teachers, Corwin Press, 2001, ISBN 0761945407, p. 78.
  • When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch.
    • William Martin, The Best Liberal Quotes Ever: Why the Left is Right, Sourcebooks, Inc., 2004, ISBN 1402203098, p. 204
  • Attempt the impossible in order to improve your work.
    • Wendy Toliver, The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Inspirational Quotes, Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2005, ISBN 140271159X, p. 123.
  • Old age ain't no place for sissies.
    • Roz Warren, Rosalind Warren, Women's Lip: Outrageous, Irreverent and Just Plain Hilarious Quotes, Sourcebooks, Inc., 2006, ISBN 1402203918, p. 179.
  • You will never be happier than you expect. To change your happiness, change your expectation.
    • Gerhard Gschwandtner, Great Thoughts to Sell By: Quotes to Motivate You to Success, McGraw-Hill Professional, 2007, ISBN 0071475990, p. 89.
  • My passions were all gathered together like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today; I knew it then as purpose.
    • Lorraine A. Darconte, Pride Matters: Quotes to Inspire Your Personal Best, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2001, ISBN 0740718835, p. 56.

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