Bette Davis (April 5, 1908 - October 6, 1989), was a two-time Academy Award-winning American actress of stage, screen and television.
Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, and christened Ruth Elizabeth Davis, Bette Davis was renowned for her intense, forceful personae and artistic versatility during a career that spanned six decades and almost one hundred films.
Co-founder of the Hollywood Canteen with actor John Garfield and one of the most respected divas of cinema's Golden Age, Davis is remembered for her tremendous screen presence and portrayals of strong women. Her equally turbulent offscreen life included stormy marriages, affairs, and legendary battles with both male studio bosses and other actresses.
Alternately referred to as the "Queen of Hollywood", the "First Lady of the American Screen", and "the Fifth Warner Brother", Davis held the record for most Oscar nominations (10) for Best Actress until bested by Katharine Hepburn (12). Davis was the first woman to serve as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as the first actress to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award (1977) from the American Film Institute (AFI) (in 1999 AFI voted her the second greatest female film legend of all time, second to Katharine Hepburn). In 2005 Davis tied Vivien Leigh as the actress with the most memorable film quotes (AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes). She has inspired a #1 song, and has been both the author and subject of several books.
Offscreen, Davis was the source of several now-famous quips about womanhood, acting, and Hollywood, often offered with biting wit. Davis also earned a reputation as combative and difficult to work with. Her physical presence, manner of speaking, and frequent histrionic and mannered acting contributed to her status as a gay icon. Film critic Leonard Maltin noted, "by the time she died Davis had won a status enjoyed by no other Hollywood actress", and many fans and film professionals consider her the best screen actress of all time.