The elite club of Oscar nominees is flush with failure, just look at Rosamund Pike, Daniel Craig, Carey Mulligan, and Hugh Jackman—all who were turned away from acting schools. But the original flunkie was Bette Davis, who despite graduating from prestigious New England college prep school Cushing Academy, failed to be accepted to Eva Le Gallienne’s prestigious Manhattan Civic Repertory in 1928. Le Gallienne’s theater company was the forerunner to off-Broadway, and by the time Davis applied several of the era’s notable actors hard already tread its boards.
The now-defunct institute never issued an explanation for missing this diamond in the rough. The James Spada written biography, Bette Davis: More Than a Woman, implies that attitude and lack of control was an issue, noting that LeGallienne called Davis both “insincere” and “frivolous.” But even when she was Ruth Elizabeth, Davis, who would have celebrated her 110th birthday today, she was as resilient as the characters she’d go to play on screen. Eventually the budding actress would go on to attend the John Murray Anderson/Robert Milton School of Theatre and Dance, where Lucille Ball was a classmate.
It wasn’t the first or last time Davis would be cast as a real life “difficult woman.” Her refusal to suffer fools cut her yearlong stint as the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences short by eight months. (Doing away with dinner and dancing at the Oscars was, understandably, not a popular proposal.) Likewise, she was released from her contract at Universal (and considered leaving Hollywood for Broadway) after six films failed to hit.
But when Davis signed a seven-year contract with Warner Bros in 1932, she finally began her string iconic roles, including 1951’s All About Eve and 1963’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. Eventually she would on to be nominated for a staggering eleven Oscars, winning Best Actress in 1936 for her role in Dangerous and then again in 1939 for Jezebel.
It’s like that old saying is always reminding us: If a first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt if you’ve also got Bette Davis eyes.END
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createdAt:Thu, 29 Mar 2018 20:46:21 +0000