BETTE DAVIS TRIBUTE: FAN INTERVIEWS

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Bette Davis is perhaps the most prominent star to ever grace the silver screen. In a career that spanned sixty years, Davis pioneered her way through her chosen profession that consisted of 125 acting credits which resulted in an array of film and television appearances where she showcased her unique versatility and creative flair for transforming the viewer into an enraptured state as she held the audience at the palm of her hand. Even twenty seven years since her passing, Bette Davis continues to enthrall generations of people from all age groups with her diverse range of characters that she embodied from fierce malicious villains to headstrong characters that inhabited an amiable nature.

Three years ago when I was maintaining my old blog which was also dedicated to classic cinema, I had the pleasure of conducting interviews with a plethora of Bette Davis enthusiasts worldwide. The people I interviewed hailed from all walks of life and many had fascinating tidbits to share.

For the special occasion on Tuesday for what would have been Bette’s 108th Birthday, I have decided to share three of these interviews with you all. Enjoy.

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Interview With Bette Davis Fan, Robin Kolodny.

I had the pleasure of conducting another interview on Bette Davis. This time with Robin Kolodny, who currently resides in Florida, USA. Robin explains how she’s been an ardent supporter of Bette since a very young age, and how Bette has helped shaped her life. Growing up Robin dreamed about meeting Bette and hoped that one day her dreams will eventuate. Sadly that dream never evolved, however she did come close, and them moments remain a vivid memory for Robin.

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Q: You have been a Bette fan for quite sometime. When did you first discover Bette and what made you become passionate about her?

A: I first discovered Bette when I was about 9 years old. I was watching TV and stumbled across All About Eve – I was hooked from that moment on. I was simply mesmerized by Bette from the moment I saw her.

Q: Bette is an inspiration to many people of all ages. What inspires you most about Bette?

A: I love that Bette Davis stood up for what she believed in. When she wasn’t getting meaty roles, she challenged the system head on. Although she lost her court battle, Warner Brothers began casting her in better and better roles – so her efforts paid off. She was also never afraid of looking unattractive in films, something many other actresses would shy away from.

Q: Bette is largely popular among young audiences of today. Many young people are starting to discover Bette and admiring her. What do you think attracts the young audiences to Bette?

A: I believe that there are some people who can see beyond the somewhat one- dimensional performers that are our current stars. These young movie lovers can look at someone like Bette Davis and see the difference. She is totally distinctive and her range of roles is unparalleled. She wasn’t a “one hit wonder” or “fly-by-night” star like many of today’s actors who have one great role and then are never seen again.

Q: Bette has starred in many films and has played many diverse roles and always delivered a fine performance. She could portray many different characters, and whatever role she played she always made that character shine. Even though Bette has appeared in so many successful films, everyone has a favorite Bette movie or a film that remains vivid in their memory. What is your favorite Bette movie?

A: All About Eve

Q: Bette has so many unforgettable moments, whether it’s in a film, an interview etc, but everybody has their favorite Bette moment. A moment that really shines in their memory. What is your favorite Bette moment?

A: There are really too many to say – I literally get chills watching her! There are certain scenes in which her performance is SO powerful that I react with emotion every time. One such scene is in Dark Victory as she climbs up the stairs to prepare for her final moments in life.  I find this scene particularly powerful and no matter how many times I watch it, I need tissues! I also love so many of her lines in All About Eve – her delivery is exemplary. So perfect in every way. Other favorite moments are in Now Voyager in the scenes with Gladys Cooper who plays her mother. Her frumpy, uneasy Charlotte descends the stairs to be questioned by Claude Rains – what an unbelieveable transformation comes after this, but her early moments in this film are priceless.

Q: Bette passed away in October 1989. What was your first reaction upon hearing about her death. How did it affect you?

A: I was in college at New York University at the time – I was 20 years old. I knew she was ill and though I had previously seen her at her Lincoln Center honor in April of that year. I had a terrible seat at the back but I was in the same room as Bette. That was the closest I ever got to actually meeting her. When she died, my lifelong dream of meeting my idol was crushed. That made me sad beyond belief. It would never happen. I felt as if the world had lost the greatest actress who ever lived – and there would simply never be a replacement for her. There couldn’t be. She was one of a kind.

Q: Bette has a huge impact on a lot of people. What impact does Bette have on you?

A: Bette had an enormous impact on me from day one. My interest in old movies stemmed from my discovery of Bette. This actually then influenced what I studied in college. I was a Cinema Studies major. I was totally focused on learning everything I could about classic films, their stars and how they were made. I also learned about difference genres, directors and many other facets of the history of film.

Q: No matter what decade, Bette always remained the star of her own pictures. Even in her later years when her pictures began to decline, she always made her character highly notable. What is your favorite Bette period. 30′s, 40′s, 50′s, 60′s, 70′s or 80′s?

A: In general I would have to say both the 30’s and 40’s.

Q: Every fan has a certain Bette item that they cherish the most. What Bette possession do you most cherish?

A: If you are speaking about something I own, I would have to say my autographed letter and personalized photo from her. I did purchase a purse she once owned and have had the unique opportunity to have been able to try on some of her dresses before the auction of her items in NY in 1990. I was an intern at CNN-Showbiz Today at the time and had special access to the items since we were doing a story on it. Also, my great aunt was a high bidder at this auction house, so I had a front row seat at the auction with her and actually sat in FRONT of Bette’s son and other friends and relatives who were there. Unfortunately, my aunt didn’t get anything that day.

Q: You have written to Bette & have been fortunate enough to receive her autograph. Tell us about that? How many times have you wrote to her etc?

A: In the early days, right after I discovered Bette I went on a quest to make contact with her. I wrote her constantly. I sent her photos, valentine cards – you name it. I know they reached her because I received several autographed photos. Then, one day in 1980 (I was not even 11 years old!) I opened my mailbox and saw that distinctive handwriting on an envelope! There was no return address. I opened it and right there on her special ladybug stationary was a personalized letter to me! Then a few days later I received a personalized autographed picture. These remain my prized possessions that I had specially framed and I see every day in my home. These prove that she actually knew I existed and cared so much for her – that meant everything to me.

Q: If you had to introduce Bette to a young person, what films would you recommend?

A: There are so many great ones, but to see the full range of her talents I would probably recommend Of Human Bondage, Dangerous, Jezebel, Dark Victory, The Old Maid, The Letter, Now Voyager, Mr. Skeffington, All About Eve, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte, Dead Ringer.

Q: In your own words how would you best describe Bette?

A: Bette Davis was an actress with her own special aura that nobody could ever even come close to replicating. She was so unbelievably distinctive in her performances, that she made every role her own. I could never even dream of a remake of any of her films. How could there be? Why would anyone want to see anyone OTHER than Bette in these roles? She was a woman whose passion for acting and excellence was upheld throughout her entire life. She never stopped working even when she was really too physically ill to do so. She was no quitter. The world lost a truly unique person when Bette Davis died. The legacy she has left us in her large body of work is something that I hope that future generations for years to come will learn to love and appreciate. There will never be another Bette Davis.

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Thank you Robin for taking the time to answer the questions. It was a great honor to have interviewed you.

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Interview with Bette Davis Fan, Marielle O’Neill.

Hello readers.

I had the pleasure of conducting an interview with longtime Bette fan Marielle O’Neill, who currently resides in the UK. As a teenager Marielle had taken a strong interest in Bette and soon after became an ardent supporter. Marielle was kind enough to answer a few questions about her discovery of Bette Davis and how she remains a strong influence in her life.

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Q: You have been a Bette fan for quite sometime. When did you first discover Bette and what made you become passionate about her?

A: My Mum had told me that Bette Davis was a ‘good actress’ when she noticed one of her films, ‘Death on the Nile’ was on TV when I was a teenager, I watched a bit of it but didn’t become a Bette fan then. A while later I got into Classic Hollywood especially film noirs and eventually watched ‘All About Eve’. When I saw Bette in ‘All About Eve’, I thought she was the most charismatic woman I’d ever seen and I fell in love with her. I also thought ‘All About Eve’ was the most literate and witty film I’ve ever seen and it remains my favourite film. I was about 16 when I fell in love with Bette. It was Bette’s charisma, acting talent, glamour, intellect and wit that made me a fan of her and importantly the fact that she was a very strong woman.

Q: Bette is an inspiration to many people of all ages. What inspires you most about Bette?

A: That she was a strong, intelligent woman who was always completely herself- there was nothing fake about Bette Davis. I also feel she is the greatest actress from ‘The Golden Age of Hollywood’ so I admire her greatly for her acting talents. I love the fact that she actively chose difficult roles and unsympathetic roles realising that these were often the best roles  in terms of acting and in being memorable. I love that although she was a great beauty she always put creating a realistic looking character above looking pretty herself, often making herself look less attractive for a role. Bette was the first leading lady character actress.

Q: Bette is largely popular among young audiences of today. Many young people are starting to discover Bette and admiring her. What do you think attracts the young audiences to Bette?

A: She was a strong woman, a feminist and was always honest, there was nothing fake about her- what you saw what what you got- all these things make Bette very modern in that she doesn’t seem like something artificially created at a movie studio in the 1930s and hence fake or artificial, she seems like a real person so she cuts through the years to remain a vibrant, living person. Bette being someone who was very much take me as I am worts and all means she has aged much better in terms of being a movie star than some of the glamour girls who seem rather passe now as they were artificial products of the studio system. The fact that she made many classic movies also means people are enjoying her work today- her work has definitely stood the test of time.

Q: Bette has starred in many films and has played many diverse roles and always delivered a fine performance. She could portray many different characters, and whatever role she played she always made that character shine. Even though Bette has appeared in so many successful films, everyone has a favorite Bette movie or a film that stand outs in their memory. What is your favorite Bette movie?

A: ‘All About Eve’.

Q: Bette has so many unforgettable moments, whether it’s in a film, an interview etc, but everybody has their favorite Bette moment. A moment that really shines in their memory. What is your favorite Bette moment?

A: Any scene from ‘Eve’ or ‘Baby Jane’.

Q: Bette has a huge impact on a lot of people. What impact does Bette have on you?

A: Bette inspires me to be strong and not care what others think.

Q: What is your favorite Bette period. 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s or 80’s?

A: 1950s- ‘All About Eve’ era.

Q: Every fan has a certain Bette item that they cherish the most. What Bette possession do you most cherish?

A: Gary Merrill’s book and rare pics.

Q: If you had to introduce Bette to a young person, what films would you recommend?

A: ‘All About Eve’, ‘Baby Jane’.

Q: In Your own words how would you best describe Bette?

A: As a very strong woman. As the greatest actress of The Golden Age of Hollywood. As an iron butterfly. As a beautiful, intelligent woman.

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Thank you Marielle for taking the time to answer the questions. It was a great honor to have interviewed you.

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Interview With Bette Davis Fan, Jennifer Johnson.

Hello readers.

I recently had the pleasure of conducting an interview on Bette Davis with long time fan Jennifer Johnson, who resides in Bakersfield, California. Jennifer is a highly noted and dedicated Bette fan. She is the host of the Facebook page titled “The Bette Davis Page”, which was created as a loving tribute in honor of Bette Davis. The page attracts thousands of Bette fans worldwide, and is the most recognized Bette page on Facebook. She is also the host of the website “Bette Davis Online”, which as well as the website also has a Facebook group, which has drawn popular acclaim in recent weeks. Jennifer explains in this interview how she has been enamored by Bette from a young age, and to this day she remains one of Bette’s most ardent supporters and is known within the Bette Davis community and estate.

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Q: You have been a Bette fan for quite sometime. When did you first discover Bette and what made you become passionate about her?

A: I first discovered Bette when I was around 7 or 8 years old. I heard the song Bette Davis eyes and I was not sure who Kim Carnes was talking about so I asked my mom, I don’t get it, who is Bette Davis? My mom told me that she was an actress from the 40’s and that she was a legend. I asked her if she was still alive and she said yes. She said she was very outspoken and was a fantasic actress. She told me one night when she was on Carson to come check it out. I watched that interview and that is when I started to really like her. She was funny, and real. It was much later though, when I was a teenager when I would start to discover her movies thanks to my mother and my late grandmother. ; )

Q: Bette is an inspiration to many people of all ages. What inspires you most about Bette?

A: What inspires me most about her is that she never gave up. She was incredibly strong. She stood up for what she believed in and worked very hard not only in her career as an actress, but in her personal life as well. I believe she inherited her work ethic from her mother Ruthie, which she later worked to take care of in life along with her sister Bobby. Her later years inspired me too, when she battled cancer and numerous strokes. She still worked, and travelled to recieve awards no matter how frail or sick she was. Also dealing with the nasty book her daughter B.D. came out with, My Mother’s Keeper, which hurt her very deeply. She still fought hard to keep going. It showed remarkable courage.

Q: Bette is largely popular among young audiences of today. Many young people are starting to discover Bette and admiring her. What do you think attracts the young audiences to Bette?

A: I think it is her overall appearance as an actress. Bette was larger than life. There was, and still is no one else like her. She was always very real. She didn’t care if her peers liked her. She was not about that. She was about being herself. I think she attracts a younger generation of people because so many entertainers of todays generation are so unrealistic in their demeanor and with their acting. There is so much phoniness in Hollywood today. Not as many entertainers work as hard as she did. Many of these entertainers today seek so much attention for their notoriety that Bette never seeked. She was a REAL actress from a generation that busted their ass to earn their legend. I think people of our current generation can really respect and appreciate that.

Q: Bette has starred in many films and has played many diverse roles and always delivered a fine performance. She could portray many different characters, and whatever role she played she always made that character shine. Even though Bette has appeared in so many successful films, everyone has a favorite Bette movie or a film that remains vivid in their memory. What is your favorite Bette movie?

A: I really do not have just one so I will name the favorites that I like most. They are listed in no order, because I just can’t list any in a particular order. ; ) Some may find my list surprising because not a lot of her big named movies are listed. I guess because some of her most memorable roles to me, were not always her biggest hits. A Stolen Life, Now, Voyager, Dark Victory, The Letter, Old Acquainteince, Of Human Bondage, All This and Heaven Too, and of course, All About Eve. ; )

Q: Bette has so many unforgettable moments, whether it’s in a film, an interview etc, but everybody has their favorite Bette moment. A moment that really shines in their memory. What is your favorite Bette moment?

A: The Dick Cavett Interview in 1971 was fantastic. She was always great on Carson and Letterman too in her later years. Another appearance that I loved with her was the Jack Parr Show from 1962. And another is Andy Williams where she sang Whatever Happend To Baby Jane?. She was just the ultimate star and was just so genuine in real in every appearance and interview she did. She was very professional, but yet, fun, witty, and extremely entertaining. You could tell the interviewers of these shows just enjoyed having her which was delightful to see.

Q: Bette passed away in October 1989. What was your first reaction upon hearing about her death. How did it affect you?

A: I was a teenager when she died, I was 15. I was very much saddened because although at that time, I was not as big of a fan of hers as I am now, I still appreciated her and admired her. I knew that we lost a legend that no one will ever fill the shoes of. It was a huge magnitude of a loss that will never be replaced.

Q: Bette has a huge impact on a lot of people. What impact does Bette have on you?

A: Bette has a large impact on me. She shows me that you can have whatever you want in life if you work hard for it. If you believe in yourself, anything can become possible. She never gave up on her goals and her dreams. Also, by fighting hard in life, battling and illness, which I have myself, to show that still living life to the very fullest is the biggest blessing ever. Her spirit still lives very strongly on this earth. Her spirit still lives on, and for that it continues to inspire so many.

Q: No matter what decade, Bette always remained the star of her own pictures. Even in her later years when her pictures began to decline, she always made her character highly notable. What is your favorite Bette period. 30′s, 40′s, 50′s, 60′s, 70′s or 80′s?

A: This is a hard one because she made so many great films during many of those periods. I would have to say the 30’s and 40’s. That is when she was in her strongest hayday as an actress and where some of her best work was born and vivid on the movie screens. Those two periods were when she was at her very best in her craft.

Q: Every fan has a certain Bette item that they cherish the most. What Bette possession do you most cherish?

A: I have a large collection, and there are so many things that I cherish. So it would be very hard to say what is my absolute favorite. One thing would be the AFI program, because only those who attended got to receive it, I bought it from one of the producers of the show. Also, the very many rare photographs I have obtained, and the movie press books are awesome as well. ; ) I have some of her owned items, like one of her scarves, a purse, a cig case and handkerchief. You just cant put a price tag on those kinds of things and you really cant choose a favorite from them either.

Q: Many people have had the rare opportunity to meet Bette, or others have written to her and have been fortunate enough to attain her autograph. Have you ever had any dealings with Bette. Have you ever sent her a fan letter & she replied, or have you been lucky enough to meet her? You have had correspondence with Michael and Kathryn Sermak?. Tell us about that experience?

A: I never had any chance to meet her when she was alive. I was a teenager when she passed and very young when she was in her later years. I never had the opportunity to write her. Although at that time in my life I spent it writing fan letters to soap stars. I never thought of writing her and if I would get a response from her. I have been in contact with Mike Merrill and Kathyrn Sermak. Both are very nice people and view Bette’s legacy as the highest of importance. They are both very grateful and amazed at the legions of adoring fans Bette still has throughout the world. ; )  

Q: If you had to introduce Bette to a young person, what films would you recommend?

A: I have done this, actually. The movies I have recommended are Of Human Bondage, Now, Voyager, Dark Victory, and All About Eve. I believe those films are some of her most iconic, and some of her best work. These films are the ones I would recommend so any new fan I would recommend her to, could see her powerful nature as an actress and how she can portray so many different characters in various roles.

Q: Bette was a very beautiful person with unique attractiveness. She had the appeal, charm and charisma like any of the well noted Hollywood beauties. In which movie do you think Bette appears the most glamorous?

A: I would have to say All About Eve. She possessed herself as a big star. And she was. She just looked so radiant in that film. She demonstrated how a big star was to be portrayed and how one is to act.

Q: Bette is known for playing a lot of unsympathetic characters. Characters that are mean and evil. Out of all the characters that Bette has portrayed, which character do you think is the most evil?

A: I would have to say its a toss between Regina Giddens from The Little Foxes, and Mildred Rodgers from Of Human Bondage. Both of them were just so manipulative and nasty you just had no sympathy for them. Another would be Stanley Timberlake from In This Our Life, who was another rotten woman who you just despised and had no sympathy for.

Q: In your own words how would you best describe Bette Davis?

A: Bette was real. While many stars of her generation, and todays as well, possessed a certain amount of phoniness to protect an image, Bette didn’t much care about that. She said what was on her mind. She didn’t care what others thought of her. She worked extremely hard. She stood the test of time. No matter how old this world gets, or whenever it comes to an end, Bette Davis has made her mark for millions of lifetimes. Her footprints have left a permanent imprint that will never be removed or replaced.

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Thank you Jennifer for taking the time to be interviewed. It was a real delight being able to grant this interview with you.

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By Crystal Kalyana Crawford.

Here’s the link to Jennifer’s Bette Davis Online Website.

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bettedavisonline.com%2F&h=JAQF-2HTz

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6 thoughts on “BETTE DAVIS TRIBUTE: FAN INTERVIEWS

  1. Silver Screenings says:

    Great interviews – you brought out a lot of interesting observations. I liked that the one fan said Bette Davis helped her become stronger and not care what other people thought. That is a wonderful tribute to Ms Davis.

    Thanks for sharing these interviews with us. 🙂

    Like

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I really enjoyed reading these fan interviews! It’s so interesting that one of the common themes among them was the admiration for her strength. It is one of her attributes that has inspired me as well. She was one of the first classic stars that I got into when I was younger and she still never fails to inspire and amaze me in many different ways. What a great tribute to a great legend!

    Like

  3. girlsdofilm says:

    Wonderful interviews – I love how Bette Davis meant something different-but-similar to almost all the interviewees. They all pick up on her distinctive personality and ‘real-ness’ – I know they’ve been much parodied, but that’s because they are the essence of the actress.

    Like

  4. Summer Reeves says:

    Hi Crystal, I really enjoyed reading your interviews, your interviewees tapped into what makes Bette Davis special she was such a genuine actor.
    I still want to be Bette Davis when I grow up!
    Thanks for a fascinating reading and for hosting such a great event!
    -Summer

    Like

  5. Phyl says:

    These are great!!! You asked some really good questions and got back great answers! I keep thinking I need to write fan letters to some of the few stars left – wish I would have written Bacall…

    Like

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