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A Centennial Tribute to Bette Davis


A Centennial Tribute to Bette Davis

Thursday, May 1st at 8:00p.m. at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theatre

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in association with the Film Department of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art presents

A Centennial Tribute to Bette Davis

Hosted by Robert Osborne
With special guests Joan Leslie, Michael Merrill, Gena Rowlands and James Woods

“Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” These memorable lines from All About Eve evoke not only a great character in a great film, but also – and perhaps especially – the extraordinary screen presence of Bette Davis herself.

In the studio era, Bette Davis was a star in a Hollywood constellation that included Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Olivia de Havilland and Barbara Stanwyck. While she was well known for her expressive eyes and instantly recognizable voice, Davis distinguished herself by excelling at untraditional, often unsympathetic characters in a range of genres, earning in the process the considerable respect of her peers. Among her nine Best Actress nominations during that era were an unprecedented five consecutive nominations between 1938 and 1942; she took home Oscars® for her performances in Dangerous in 1935 and Jezebel in 1938.

Born Ruth Elizabeth Davis on April 5, 1908, in Lowell, Massachusetts, Bette Davis was first drawn to stage acting as a teenager. After appearing in a handful of regional theater productions, she made her Broadway debut in 1929, was spotted by a Universal talent scout, and moved to Hollywood a year later. Despite that auspicious beginning, it was not until Warner Bros. picked up her contract in late 1931 that she found success. George Arliss chose her to play opposite him in The Man Who Played God (1932), and Davis earned the first positive reviews of her film career.

Davis stayed with Warner Bros. for nearly 18 years, during which she famously tangled with co-stars, directors and studio executives alike. But also during those years – sometimes on loan-out to other studios – she did some of her best work. Her performances in such notable films as Of Human Bondage (1934), Jezebel (1938), Dark Victory (1939), The Letter (1940), The Little Foxes (1941), Now, Voyager (1942) and Watch on the Rhine (1943) secured not only her stardom, but her reputation as a versatile and fearless performer.

Davis was an equally strong presence off the screen. She was elected the Academy’s first female president in 1941, although her tenure was brief and contentious. A staunch supporter of the war effort, Davis was one of the founders of the Hollywood Canteen and an active fund-raiser on the home front.

Soon after she left Warner Bros. in 1949, she replaced an ailing Claudette Colbert in All about Eve. Margo Channing became, arguably, Davis’s most famous and identifiable role. But as it was for most actresses in their forties and beyond, such splendid screen opportunities were rare. There were a few highlights, including What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, for which she received her 10th and final Academy Award® nomination in 1962, but Davis’s later films were often disappointments. She nonetheless maintained her tremendous work ethic and continued to make film and television appearances throughout her sixties and seventies, even after she had suffered a series of debilitating strokes.

“A Centennial Tribute to Bette Davis” will honor the legendary actress with an evening featuring clips of her indelible screen performances as well as onstage discussions with several of her colleagues and friends.

Tickets available April 1st. Tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members. Tickets may be purchased online, by mail (HTML or PDF format) or at the Academy during regular business hours. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at the 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, beverly Hills. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. All seating is unreserved. For additional information, please call the Academy at (310) 247-3600.

Official Academy Webpage

Hurry, as this event will sell out fast!

A Centennial Tribute to Bette Davis” continues with a screening series at LACMA’s Leo S. Bing Theater. For more information, please call the LACMA box office at (323) 857-6010 or visit



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