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Publisher's Summary

She was the tempestuous, strong-willed woman who ignited the movie screen with her legendary performances in Of Human Bondage, Jezebel, and All About Eve. Off-camera, Bette Davis survived four disastrous marriages and earned a larger-than-life professional reputation as an actress to be reckoned with. In this extraordinary biography, fans and film historians will discover a different, darker side of Bette Davis: a woman beset with scarring personal and professional doubts, who fought a lifelong battle with alcohol and had an insatiable need to be loved, often at great emotional cost. Obsessive and compulsive, Davis was happy only when she was working, but did not always choose her projects wisely. A legend, a star, a remarkable woman, Bette Davis lived her life as if it were a coveted role she was desperately afraid she might not win.

©1992 Barbara Leaming (P)2000 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Leaming offers a portrait of Bette Davis that is both sympathetic to the actress and frank about her legendary bitchiness…The book is distinguished by its psychological understanding of the subject." (Publishers Weekly)
“Strong, honest, vivid biography…A rapid but rich full-dress portrait of a matchlessly magnetic actress whose chains of self-centeredness grew ever heavier as she aged… Excellent especially on Davis’ tics and mannerisms and how they undermined her ferocious energy and greater possibilities.” (Kirkus Reviews)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Story

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  • Jason
  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 08-01-16

Love the subject, not so much the book

Any additional comments?

Jeez, talk about character assassination. The author draws outrageously unfair and unsubstantiated conclusions throughout this book. For example, when Bette finds out her adopted child, Margot, is mentally challenged, Barbara Leaming writes, "Bette's decision not to revoke the adoption was less about empathy and care for the child, and more about her fear of bad publicity." Oh really? Says who? Leaming offers not a shred of evidence for this theory. It's one of many nasty suppositions about Davis that actually contradicts just about 75% of everything I've ever read about her. It makes me wonder if the author is just looking for new revelations about the well documented life of Bette Davis. Occasionally she'll sight a letter or memo from Warner Bros. but for the most part she just fills the book with sensationally negative assumptions. Oh and PS, aside from hilariously mispronouncing everything, including "Bette" twice, the narrator is about as exciting as cold meatloaf on a paper plate.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

A Side Unknown

If you could sum up Bette Davis in three words, what would they be?

A Lost Soul

What did you like best about this story?

That the book didn't just give history of Bette Davis but how she became Bette Davis the person. By providing history on her mother, sister, etc.

Which scene was your favorite?

I didn't have one specific part that was my favorite section. I think what I walked away with is that Bette Davis wasn't appreciate as much for being a pioneer, her independence, and standing up for herself.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me want to cry for Bette Davis. I think she was a very misunderstood person - people thought she was a villain or a mean spirited person. She suffered with mental illness in a time where you did not address the problem. At an early age she was encouraged to cover it up with alcohol. She wasn't given the best guidance from her mother or father so she carried on less suitable behaviors in other relationships. She alienated those who loved her, probably as a form of protection, and was somewhat alone at the end of her life. She was a talented woman ahead of her time. What she is remembered for are the negative aspects of her life. I suspected she loved those closest to her deeply and did not know the proper way to show it.

Any additional comments?

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan or looking for a good non-fiction book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Interesting,yet sad story

Would you try another book from Barbara Leaming and/or Grace Conlin?

Yes,if it was about someone who I wanted to read about.This one was done well.

Would you recommend Bette Davis to your friends? Why or why not?

Yes.Her life was more interesting than I thought it would be,given the era she grew up in.

Which character – as performed by Grace Conlin – was your favorite?

I would say her biological daughter.

Could you see Bette Davis being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Not really.

Any additional comments?

No.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • sherry
  • Winder, GA, United States
  • 10-19-17

Great story but terrible reader.

While the story was really great i had to struggle getting through it because of the reading It was awful snd mechanical.

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Pulling an icon from the pidestal!

I have no doubt that a lot if not all is true, but I am left with the question: did I need to know this? I will not like BD any the less for her being who she was,and I will still enjoy watching her movies, that are a lot more watchable today than a lot of other ,"stars", including the ones that the author trashed - one example is "The catered affair" which is a little gem. Death on the Nile is a wonderful whodone it, that I can watch again and again, the little foxes is one that I have seen more often than Dark Victory and All abou Eve!
Davis obviously had several possible psychiatric diagnoses, and therefore deserves more sympathy and understanding than the author is able to give.
Suffice it to say- Davis had an aura about her that very few of the more conventionally beautiful stars had.
She was one of a kind! Bless her memory!

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Great, couldn't wait to listen to it everyday!

the book was riveting, and I looked for other books from this author to listen to. Great Book

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  • Paula
  • 09-16-12

Narrated too quickly!

I'm afraid that this isn't a normal review as I haven't read the book!

I found that Grace Conlin spoke so very quickly that I could not enjoy listening to her. I tried slowing it down a bit but then it was too slow. I think listening to a book should be an absorbing and relaxing occupation but this was so fast I had to concentrate like mad and I gave up after about 10 minutes. Shame. Bette Davis was one of my favourite filmstars and I was really looking forward to listening.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jason
  • 12-28-12

excellent

Little fast however really good book. Would recommend this book if you like true Hollywood royalty.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful