Frequently confused as A Lonely Life, Bette Davis’ story, although more tragic than some, is not anymore isolated than any other actor. Stars, celebrities, objects of our admiration, they have a radius of flashing lights only fit for one. Sadly, the case of such gets stronger every day.
But for now, The Lonely Life by Bette Davis is a model for artists. Of the wherewithal, the work, the stubborn drive all creative persons need to be successful in this industry, it is all outlined in this memoir. Davis is one of the most memorable stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She’s so well-known that she makes guest appearances in nearly everyone else’s biographies. Lauren Bacall and Lucille Ball, for instance, both had memorable interactions with the starlet, documented in their respective memoirs.
For everything we do know of Davis, having lived most of her life in the public eye, there were so many behind the scenes fights we never got to hear about. Davis was a contract player. Every actor was in those days, just a factory worker in the machine of cinema. A machine that was known for high output, not necessarily having good output. Quality was ever-shifting then. Even first-grade stars, such as Davis, were thrown every script imaginable. Many of which were less than favorable or, to put it in laymen’s terms, just bad.
Davis perpetually fought the studios for artistic control. Refusing scripts to the point of contract suspension and hefty legal battles. Her work and her lack thereof cost her, her marriages, her children, and some familial relationships. So it was a lonely life, but not for lack of trying.
Davis attempted to create a stable home environment for her children, despite her less than savory husbands, greedy family, and professional detriments. It’s not easy being a star, and harder being an artist. Her memoir is attest to that.
Although I must mention that her first two chapters are an attest to the growth of the psychological field. No matter how those early years are framed, or the literary devices she used to try and shadow a lot of it, it doesn’t take a trained psychologist to see that she needed one. She needed one then, throughout her life, and indisputably during the daughter-gate. But that’s getting ahead of myself and my willingness to spoil the book. For now, I’d recommend any creatives and non-creatives to read this book.