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Dick Cavett cut to the chase interviewing the 63yo Bette Davis. With a
colorful 'flower power' transition screen to break between commercials
and his interview, Cavett asks Davis extremely personal questions.
Unashamed of her life and usually quite direct and forthcoming, Bette
Davis responded to Cavett's question, "How did you loose your
virginity?" His question itself had the live audience on the floor
rolling with laughter. Davis's answer (after a commercial break of
course) . . . is classic, the truth, and reveals her sexosophy on life.
Cavett's interview reveals much more detail about Davis's career life experiences than any of the biopics about her (such as "Stardust"). Davis recalls so much with keen insight to the politics of show business. I can watch this interview repeatedly and find new morsels of genuine Davis being a down to Earth as a human gets. To know her from this interview is surely to fall in love with her. It's incredible to learn how she worked the show business system in order to invent one of the most brilliant acting careers of the 20th century. To imagine that she began at the age of 15 and was a star by 25 years old makes a head spin.
Cavett's interview helps Davis convey that becoming a great actress early one wasn't as difficult as remaining a great actress with the best scripts for the long haul of her lifetime. The Queen of the Screen has quite a sense of humor, as is evident throughout this show. Watch and thoroughly enjoy!
Cavett had a style, like Johnny Carson, of bringing the truth out of
many of his guests. This interview of Bette Davis, who is 63 years
young, reveals what a fun-loving, straight-talking, career-devoted
actor par excellance she had turned out to be.
Not nearly finished with acting, she wasn't looking for 'stardom'. Davis said, flat out, that she wanted to be the best actor she could be, period. She wouldn't allow herself to settle for less.
Bette Davis said that she'd act 'as long as she still had high heels and a make-up bag'. That she did until 1986-87 when she was literally dying of cancer, in "The Whales of August." Sixteen years after this interview, Bette Davis was still playing the leading roles of remarkably strong women, with all star casts (in "Whales,"--Lillian Gish, Vincent Price & Ann Southern).
Davis spent her cancer-struggling days traveling around the world to present awards to peer actors in the public. Still, like so many of her characters, willing to be seen by the public as someone less than a glamor-puss who was star-struck on herself.
If anyone knows how to lay hands upon the full copy of this Cavett-Davis interview to buy please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whatever she was - and there was nothing easy about Bette Davis - she
was a riot! This relaxed, funny, intelligent, animated interview with
Dick Cavett is stupendous. Much as I loved his interview with Katharine
Hepburn, the no-holds barred Bette in this interview is something to
Because he knew Davis, Cavett was much easier with her than he was with Hepburn, and while Hepburn had a wonderful sense of humor, this was a much more raucous interview. Davis fed off that audience as if it was mother's milk.
It wasn't all laughs. This is a nearly 40-year-old interview, and when she talks about the people that filmdom had lost up to then - one thinks about where we are now, with her gone and nearly everyone else - and it's sobering.
The other sad moment is when she talks about her daughter - we know B.D.'s betrayal is coming as well as the estrangement - and it's sad. For those who think Bette deserved "My Mother's Keeper," remember this: she let her daughter get married at a young age to a man she loved, giving her a beautiful wedding and supporting the two of them all the way; she never missed an opportunity to use B.D. in her films; and even Gary Merrill, from whom Davis was divorced, defended her when the book came out, stating that you could say what you wanted about Bette, but never that she was a bad mother. The point is - B.D. and her husband had no way to support themselves and had probably tapped Bette for her last loan. And let's just see how Bette treated her other daughter, Margo, whom she adopted and who turned out to be mentally challenged. She refused to return the child to the adoption agency and made sure that she had care for life. When I saw Davis in person in Boston in 1974, her son was in attendance, and she had him stand in the audience.
Davis' perspectives on life, love, sex, and stardom are all evident here. When Cavett asked if he could light her cigarette, she said, "yes, I'm not woman's lib." Too much.
I'll never forget seeing her in person when she toured with John Springer as part of an interview series - the largest, bluest eyes you've ever seen - she looked beautiful and petite. Bette Davis was a true star. We will never see anyone like her again. The world has changed, and there seems to be no place for quirky individualists. Too bad. Our loss.
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