Fading Fast

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The Lonely Life by Bette Davis, published in 1962

One of the hallmarks of an Ayn Rand character is his/her singular drive and ability to pave his/her own path. In Rand's books, her heroes are individualists who passionately but unemotionally pursue their goals - calm in the face of adversity and, even, brutal mendacity. As she chose for the title of her magnum opus, they are Atlases holding the world aloft despite the world's best effort to break them.

In real life, stringent individualists in singular pursuit of a goal can be a handful for the rest of us - emotional, screamers, breakers of glass, egotists - basically, pains in the arses, but they do move the world forward through their ardent will, egotism, effort, almost-miniacial commitment and relentless drive. They might work with others, but their success is only a collective effort in the broadest sense of the word; the world's achievements - its accomplishments - belong to, let's just say it, the arrogant individuals.

Bette Davis is one such arrogant individual and she wouldn't and doesn't deny it one bit. While a liberal in her political views - a huge fan of FDR - Davis is a Randian libertarian at heart. She believes that those with outsized talent and drive have a right to break the rules, push others out of the way and do whatever it takes to, in her case, make the play or movie better. If feelings get hurt, people get fired - so be it; the goal of making the best movie, with the best acting is what matters / those who can't keep up and contribute should find another line of work. Howard Roark would be proud.

While all the other elements of a normal biography are here - family (emotionally cold father, insanely devoted mother, overshadowed sister), early life, career ups and downs, one failed marriage after another (she really was married to her career first and her husbands' egos couldn't stand that or her out earning them), her work is her life and the heart and soul of the biography.

And it doesn't disappoint. She gives credit aplenty to others - and names names - and assigns blame and failure - without naming names - but not holding back otherwise. And this inside Hollywood stuff is the real fun of the book - she drops in plenty of anecdotes about her movies, her costars, her directors and the Brothers Warner, Jack in particular.

Published in '62, it seems to have just predated her '62 career-boosting comeback "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane," but it probably doesn't matter as Bette Davis was born Bette Davis, lived her entire life as Bette Davis and, from other things I've read, died as Bette Davis - one of the world's best actresses who pushed whatever she had to out of the way to let her talent shine through.

I'm sure its varnished - whoever wrote a an autobiography that didn't blend in a little hagiography? - but it's short, fast and unvarnished enough to make it one of Hollywood's better reads. Plus this, the great "ridding crop habit flip" maneuver ⇩ from Jezebel was self taught in a marathon overnight session followed by forty-five takes: something an actress - and Ayn Rand hero - not a star, would do. Bette Davis was, above all else, an actress.
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Cassadine

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View attachment 33260
The Lonely Life by Bette Davis, published in 1962

One of the hallmarks of an Ayn Rand character is his/her singular drive and ability to pave his/her own path. In Rand's books, her heroes are individualists who passionately but unemotionally pursue their goals - calm in the face of adversity and, even, brutal mendacity. As she chose for the title of her magnum opus, they are Atlases holding the world aloft despite the world's best effort to break them.

In real life, stringent individualists in singular pursuit of a goal can be a handful for the rest of us - emotional, screamers, breakers of glass, egotists - basically, pains in the arses, but they do move the world forward through their ardent will, egotism, effort, almost-miniacial commitment and relentless drive. They might work with others, but their success is only a collective effort in the broadest sense of the word; the world's achievements - its accomplishments - belong to, let's just say it, the arrogant individuals.

Bette Davis is one such arrogant individual and she wouldn't and doesn't deny it one bit. While a liberal in her political views - a huge fan of FDR - Davis is a Randian libertarian at heart. She believes that those with outsized talent and drive have a right to break the rules, push others out of the way and do whatever it takes to, in her case, make the play or movie better. If feelings get hurt, people get fired - so be it; the goal of making the best movie, with the best acting is what matters / those who can't keep up and contribute should find another line of work. Howard Roark would be proud.

While all the other elements of a normal biography are here - family (emotionally cold father, insanely devoted mother, overshadowed sister), early life, career ups and downs, one failed marriage after another (she really was married to her career first and her husbands' egos couldn't stand that or her out earning them), her work is her life and the heart and soul of the biography.

And it doesn't disappoint. She gives credit aplenty to others - and names names - and assigns blame and failure - without naming names - but not holding back otherwise. And this inside Hollywood stuff is the real fun of the book - she drops in plenty of anecdotes about her movies, her costars, her directors and the Brothers Warner, Jack in particular.

Published in '62, it seems to have just predated her '62 career-boosting comeback "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane," but it probably doesn't matter as Bette Davis was born Bette Davis, lived her entire life as Bette Davis and, from other things I've read, died as Bette Davis - one of the world's best actresses who pushed whatever she had to out of the way to let her talent shine through.

I'm sure its varnished - whoever wrote a an autobiography that didn't blend in a little hagiography? - but it's short, fast and unvarnished enough to make it one of Hollywood's better reads. Plus this, the great "ridding crop habit flip" maneuver ⇩ from Jezebel was self taught in a marathon overnight session followed by forty-five takes: something an actress - and Ayn Rand hero - not a star, would do. Bette Davis was, above all else, an actress.View attachment 33261

Great actress. Interesting gal. Her quip on Joan Crawford, upon Ms. Crawford's death, if true, is one of the most sardonic and biting remarks I've ever read. She allegedly said, "You should never say bad things about the dead, only good… Joan Crawford is dead. Good.” Man alive, they really hated each another.
 

TKI67

Super Member
1,218
United States
Texas
Austin
I’m nearing the end of the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. They take the protagonist through WWI and WWII. As murder mysteries they are excellent, but the nuanced look at British life during this era is terrific as well.
 

Peak and Pine

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^

Have mentioned this before, but a little more info this time. I grew up about a mile from Davis' creaky old mansion on the Maine coast in the period between her golden years and the later years when she went Baby Jane nuts. I never saw her, but her hubby was around and when they split, she went west and he bought and lived in a decomissioned light house in my town. He is a particular hero of mine and I got to work with him later, on a crazy project as a young adult. I modeled my speakng voice on his and was somewhat successful in this. After the breakup the house was sold to friends of my family who had a kid my age. It was vacant for a few weeks and the kid and I wondered through this strange old place, which I imagine must have reeked of cigarette smoke still, she having a nine pack a day habit, but since H---- and I also smoked, we didn't notice. Because of our age, we weren't around for her vixen days and since this was before Baby Jane, we hardly who she was. But Merrill, Gary Merrill her ex, drove a '54 Corvette, the first year made I believe, was out and about and was so damn smooth. I've never forgotten him.
 

Cassadine

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United States
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^

Have mentioned this before, but a little more info this time. I grew up about a mile from Davis' creaky old mansion on the Maine coast in the period between her golden years and the later years when she went Baby Jane nuts. I never saw her, but her hubby was around and when they split, she went west and he bought and lived in a decomissioned light house in my town. He is a particular hero of mine and I got to work with him later, on a crazy project as a young adult. I modeled my speakng voice on his and was somewhat successful in this. After the breakup the house was sold to friends of my family who had a kid my age. It was vacant for a few weeks and the kid and I wondered through this strange old place, which I imagine must have reeked of cigarette smoke still, she having a nine pack a day habit, but since H---- and I also smoked, we didn't notice. Because of our age, we weren't around for her vixen days and since this was before Baby Jane, we hardly who she was. But Merrill, Gary Merrill her ex, drove a '54 Corvette, the first year made I believe, was out and about and was so damn smooth. I've never forgotten him.

That is a audacious memory. The mansion must've seemed spooky to kids.
 

Fading Fast

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8,370
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Great actress. Interesting gal. Her quip on Joan Crawford, upon Ms. Crawford's death, if true, is one of the most sardonic and biting remarks I've ever read. She allegedly said, "You should never say bad things about the dead, only good… Joan Crawford is dead. Good.” Man alive, they really hated each another.
I've read that and often thought, my God, if she really just fired that out extemporaneously, it belongs in the Brickbat Hall of Fame. Heck, even if she thought it out in advance, she still deserves an honorable mention.

^

Have mentioned this before, but a little more info this time. I grew up about a mile from Davis' creaky old mansion on the Maine coast in the period between her golden years and the later years when she went Baby Jane nuts. I never saw her, but her hubby was around and when they split, she went west and he bought and lived in a decomissioned light house in my town. He is a particular hero of mine and I got to work with him later, on a crazy project as a young adult. I modeled my speakng voice on his and was somewhat successful in this. After the breakup the house was sold to friends of my family who had a kid my age. It was vacant for a few weeks and the kid and I wondered through this strange old place, which I imagine must have reeked of cigarette smoke still, she having a nine pack a day habit, but since H---- and I also smoked, we didn't notice. Because of our age, we weren't around for her vixen days and since this was before Baby Jane, we hardly who she was. But Merrill, Gary Merrill her ex, drove a '54 Corvette, the first year made I believe, was out and about and was so damn smooth. I've never forgotten him.
Good stuff - always neat when someone has a connect.

I'm aware she smoked like a chimney and often wondered if that is why, IMO, she aged pretty quickly. Prior to the internet, when information wasn't available (accurate or not) on everything, I remember thinking, when I saw "All About Eve," that BD must have been in her early 50s when that was filmed. I was stunned to find out years later that she was only 42.

While I'd rank the top two male voices in classic Hollywood as Cary Grant, first, and James Mason, second, Gary Merrill definitely had a good one.

I know they are said not to be particularly great cars mechanically, but I love the look of the first generation Vette.
 

eagle2250

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^^
Indeed, Ms Davis aged all too young and not well at all. Long term, heavy smoking will do that to a body and can greatly curtail one's potential lifespan. I will never understand why people choose to do that to themselves? ;)
 

The Irishman

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In print... THE NIBELUNGENLIED.

Audiobook... Just finished Erasmus' THE PRAISE OF FOLLY and shopping around for which of the translations of Thomas More's UTOPIA is the way to go.
 

Cassadine

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United States
Pennsylvania
Butler
I've read that and often thought, my God, if she really just fired that out extemporaneously, it belongs in the Brickbat Hall of Fame. Heck, even if she thought it out in advance, she still deserves an honorable mention.



Good stuff - always neat when someone has a connect.

I'm aware she smoked like a chimney and often wondered if that is why, IMO, she aged pretty quickly. Prior to the internet, when information wasn't available (accurate or not) on everything, I remember thinking, when I saw "All About Eve," that BD must have been in her early 50s when that was filmed. I was stunned to find out years later that she was only 42.

While I'd rank the top two male voices in classic Hollywood as Cary Grant, first, and James Mason, second, Gary Merrill definitely had a good one.

I know they are said not to be particularly great cars mechanically, but I love the look of the first generation Vette.
What about Yul Brynner and Orson Welles?
 
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