Bette Davis

"I was two women"
An excerpt from an interview that was published in the Sunday Magazine, September 11, 1977

By Joan Wixen, Sunday Magazine Special Writer

A women who has won every acting award a person can win, Bette Davis, going on 70, continues to radiate glamour, vitality, and yes - vulnerablity.

She isn’t really beautiful, never was; yet, she has an intangible something that lets everyone know here is someone extraordinary.

She is tiny, not even 5 feet, but with her head held erect she stands straight and tall.

When she speaks it is in clear, articulte sebntences. Nor is she afraid to reveal her inner self.

When I asked her a particularly audacious question she’d suddenly plop herself down horizontally on the sofa, grab her head and say, “My God. What are you trying to do to me? Don’t you know you shouldn’t ask something like that?” But then she’d sit up and proceed to answer the question.

When it was all over and the Disney Studio public relations man came to escort me back to my car she exclaimed, as only she can exclaim with that staccato inflection of hers, “Where in the world did you ever get this woman? Quick. Quick. Get her out of here before she comes at me with something else.”

But then as explosively her arms were around me in a big hug and she told me she really appreciated being asked meaningful questions.

So I looked into her eyes and smiled and said, “then how come there were a couple you really didn’t answer?”

She grabbed her head again and said, “Oh my God,” and closed the door.

Later that night, close to midnight, my phone rang, and it is Bete Davis.

“I hope I didn’t wake you up,” she says.

I lied and assured her she didn’t.

“I just came back from dinner and it has been driving me crazy all night, but i think I figured out what you wanted to know when you asked how come one person at 70 is full of life and someone else isn’t? Well, I think the key to life is to never stop accepting its challenges. And as far as I’m concerned, once someone stops accepting challenges he’s dead.”

I interviewed her in her room at the Universal Sheraton Hotel. She would be here for six weeks making her 83rd movie, “Return From Witch Mountain,” where she plays the role of a woman who is involved in abducting a boy with supernatural powers.

“It must be an enormous transition from once being the highest paid actress in the world to playing a character role in a Disney film,” I say.

“I’ve played character parts,” she says. “Only now because i’m older I’m having a harder time getting leading roles. But any part that comes along that is good I’ll take. I never want to stop working and I like to do at least one movie a year.”

“It’s funny,” I say, “you’ve played every kind of woman imaginable, yet a lot of people feel you seem to have a rather special ability for playing bitch roles. Hmmmmm. “

“Have you ever seen a genuine bitch try to play a bitch?” she says. “She just can’t do it. It hits too close to home. Now if you asked a real bitch that kind of question, if she didn’t drop dead first, she’d either belt you one or she’d deny having this kind of talent.”

“To play a real bitch, my dear, you merely have had to have lived in this world.”

To read the entire interview, please contact the Detroit Free Press.

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