theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…
Originally posted on A R T L▼R K.
On the 6th of October 1989, actress Bette Davies died of breast cancer at the age of 81 in the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. On her Hollywood tombstone, the inscription reads: She did it the hard way, summing up a woman’s lifetime of struggle for perfection but also survival. Most of this struggle was by all accounts fought quite ungraciously. In an article in The Guardian (12 January 2012), Anne Billson expressed her disdain at the fact that,
“Great Women of History watered down in the cockamamie belief it’ll turn them into feminist role models (…) Some commentators think that unless female characters are irreproachable icons of empowerment, they’re sexist stereotypes, but they’re wrong – it’s our flaws that make us real.”
Billson gave examples from films such as Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady (2011) portraying Margaret Thatcher, Madonna’s W.E. (2011) about Wallis Simpson or Juraj Jakubisko’s Bathory (2008) about the 16th century Hungarian serial killer Báthory Erzsébet. In all these movies, the heroines’ vices are glanced over and their strong traits enhanced in order to retrospectively turn them into feminist role models. This should not happen with the memory of Bette Davis, be it her stage, or private persona.
The actress’ feistiness was visible early on in her career. Upon her arrival in Hollywood, the studio wanted to change her name to Bettina Dawes, which she promptly refused saying that she will not go through life with a name that sounded like…
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