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On March 1, 1977, Bette Davis became the first woman recipient of the prestigious Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. Host Jane Fonda reminded Bette that it was her birth that made it necessary for Bette to recite her lines to a stand-in rather than to Henry Fonda in "Jezebel;" and Olivia de Havilland good-naturedly complained that Bette "got all the roles I always wanted." Also on hand were mentor-director William Wyler, Mia Farrow, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Henry Fonda, Lee Grant, Paul Henreid, Celeste Holm, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Martin Manulis, Liza Minnelli, George Stevens Jr., Cicely Tyson, Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood. Film clips included "Of Human Bondage," "Dangerous," "Jezebel," "Dark Victory," "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex," "The Letter," "The Little Foxes," "Now, Voyager," "Mr. Skeffington," "Beyond the Forest," "All About Eve," and "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" Written by
It's always interesting to see a well-deserved tribute to one of Hollywood's busiest actresses during the Golden Age, and especially when so many of her friends and co-stars were still living and able to attend such a ceremony.
The AFI's salute to BETTE DAVIS was a star-studded event, including brief talks from such luminaries as GERALDINE FITZGERALD, PAUL HENRIED, ROBERT WAGNER, NATALIE WOOD, OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND, WILLIAM WYLER and others.
I read afterwards that NATLIE WOOD was annoyed that Olivia brought up the fact that she too had won two Oscars while talking about Bette--as if she was taking some of the spotlight away from Bette's success. I do recall de Havilland saying something like: "I always wanted the career that Bette had." But since she and Bette Davis remained good friends, I don't think Olivia was trying to upstage Bette at all.
All in all, a fun evening--especially for fans of Bette Davis and the Golden Age of movies.
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