Take a look below, and if you’d like, let us know how you did. Here we go:
Question: Where did Davis’ celebrated legal battle with Warner Bros. play out, and what was it about? 1) In Hollywood over the studio’s demand that she marry Errol Flynn; 2) in England over her studio suspension after refusing several projects proffered by management; or 3) in the Bahamas over expensive beachfront property contractually obligated to be purchased for the actress.
Answer: 2) In England, in the British court system. At issue was the actress’ celebrated refusal to take several roles assigned to her by Warner Bros. in violation of her contract. Bette lost her case in court but achieved her larger goal when Warner Bros. welcomed back their top star with a flourish of good roles.
Question: Davis was not the first choice for perhaps the most celebrated role of her career, that of Margo Channing in 1950’s All About Eve. Who was? 1) Joan Crawford; 2) Claudette Colbert, 3) Tallulah Bankhead; or 4) Loretta Young?
Answer: 2) Colbert. Believe it or not, Bette was Twentieth Century-Fox’s last-minute replacement after Claudette had suffered a serious back injury, making her unavailable. Davis not only won the role of a professional lifetime but the movie introduced her to her fourth and final husband, costar Gary Merrill. “Claudette’s loss was my gain,” Bette wrote. “On what strange circumstances are whole lives changed. No broken back — no Gary Merrill. I must confess, in the years that followed I felt less and less thankful.”
Question: Davis was known to be unusually blunt and outspoken by Hollywood standards, and more than occasionally abused people who worked for her, especially publicists. True or false?
Answer: False. Davis respected professionalism on the set and in the studio front office when she found it. Although many classic Hollywood stars disdained their handlers, especially publicists, Davis never did. “Studio press agents are your shield,” she wrote, “your moat, your fortress against the world. How they maintain their sanity and loyalty in the face of the characters they work with is a major mystery….I was to know many of these men and will always be in their debt.”
Question: Who was the driving parental force in Bette’s life? Her father, Harlow Morrell Davis, or her mother, Ruth?
Answer: Her mother, Ruth. Davis’ autobiography begins with a handwritten letter. “This book I dedicate to you, my mother. Without your belief in me, this story would have been a different one….You will always be in the front row.”
Question: Twentieth Century Fox tried to coerce Davis into starring in a sequel to All About Eve, which prompted a legal response from the actress, who was adamantly opposed. True or false?
Answer: False. In fact, it was Bette and costar Gary Merrill who came to director-scriptwriter Joseph Mankiewicz to ask that he write an All About Eve sequel. Nothing came of the discussion, perhaps a blessing. How do you top a classic?