My Take on This ‘N That by Bette Davis

Book Reviews

This ‘N That, a book written by Bette Davis on her life and especially that around the time of her mastectomy and stroke in 1983 is a must for Davis fans. It shows us what a strong woman she was on and off the set. The reader is brought into the life of Davis through her own words and it is captivating.

We are introduced to Kathryn, her assistant who is by her side throughout. There is even a chapter in the book written by Kathryn as how she saw Bette Davis. She had great respect and fondness for Ms. Davis from the very start. A quote from her diary states as much. “She is divine. Last night she cooked me a marvelous dinner of Cornish hen, squash with green peas. She is delightful and charming and has a heart. A good person, I can tell…Her home is beautiful, filled with warmth and loving pieces from parts of her life…”

Bette Davis lived for acting, she loved it. After her operation and stroke she did not know if she would work again, but work she did. She was a woman with drive and determination and obvious talent.

Of course there was heartache along the way. Four failed marriages did not prove easy for Bette Davis. Davis wanted to do the best at all she did and these failures were always a disappointment for her. There is also her daughter’s book, My Mother’s Keeper, that did not speak too highly of her, that was a surprise and shock to her.

In This ‘N That, Davis speaks of her ‘feud’ with Joan Crawford. She is open and honest in telling her feelings about other actors (the good and the bad). She admitted to being nervous when working with other actors who impressed her. She gives credit to others where it was due.

The accomplishment Bette Davis was most proud of was The Hollywood Canteen. The Hollywood Canteen was a place for servicemen to meet Hollywood stars. There was entertainment by Hollywood stars, dancing, and a snack bar. For her work with The Hollywood Canteen in World War II, she was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, the Defense Department’s highest civilian award. I found this chapter very interesting as I did not know of The Hollywood Canteen.

Bette Davis was a talented actress and one of my favorites. I found the book interesting and from it I learned a lot about Bette Davis the woman as well as Bette Davis the actress. Before reading this book I would suggest watching a few of her movies, if not familiar with Bette Davis the actress. This is because she does refer to some of her movies and other actors in the movies and it would help to form a better picture.

This ‘N That has got me excited to see some more of Bette Davis. I would also like to re-watch a few of her movies now and see them again for a comment or two about them peaked my interest. Makeup, scenes, etc… I would like to see again from a new perspective. So I will be popping some corn and having some movie nights soon. Happy Reading!

My Take on The Lonely Life by Bette Davis

Book Reviews

I became a fan of Bette Davis a few years back. My daughter and I were visiting my parents and the movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane came on. We were about to leave and then got captivated in the film. My daughter, who usually isn’t captured by movies so easily, also did not want to leave. We were glued to the television mesmerized by Bette Davis. What an actress!

Bette Davis could go from a normal, lovely character and change into a deranged lunatic in the blink of an eye. Such control! We had to have more! We rented many more of her movies including Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte which was another of our favorites. Her characters were more demented in her later works.

Bette Davis – Whatever Happened to Baby Jane
Bette Davis – Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte

So, needless to say, it was inevitable that I would eventually want to read Bette Davis’ autobiography. I can honestly say that I didn’t want to put it down. She led a fascinating life. There was so much I didn’t know about her. The Lonely Life, her first autobiography, starts from the beginning of her life in Lowell, Massachusetts where she was born Ruth Elizabeth Davis in 1908 to around the time of the death of her mother who was so important in her life. It leads us through her start in theatre and then the move to California and motion pictures. We get to see what she thought of other actors, the work she did, her contributions to society, her personal life, family, marriages, and the struggles she faced rising to the top all from her point of view. We get to see what Hollywood was like back in the day when silent pictures were transitioning to talkies. Most of all we get to picture the woman behind the actress.

This is a highly recommended read from me. The Lonely Life by Bette Davis was well written, interesting, and entertaining. In answer to that famous question: “If you could have dinner with any three people (dead or alive) who would they be?”… One of mine would definitely be Bette Davis. Happy Reading!