In the pantheon of consummately quotable women, Bette Davis, who died 21 years ago today, sits alongside Dorothy Parker, Mae West and Coco Chanel. She has plenty of celebrated lines – “fasten your seat belts,” “what a dump,” “let’s not ask for the moon,” and so on – forever archived in countless YouTube clips, books and DVDs. WWD has its own trove of witticisms and bon mots, some familiar, others new, from an Oct. 5, 1976 interview with the actress at her Connecticut home, tied to her role as Minnie Kennedy in the television film “The Disappearance of Aimee.” Here, a sampling of those thoughts, straight from the lips of Davis.

On being sexy: “From the time I was six years old I felt sexy. And let me tell you, it was hell, S-H-E-E-R hell, waiting to do something about it. As it was I ended up waiting much too long because I was raised badly on that score.”

This story first appeared in the October 6, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

On her “The Disappearance of Aimee” co-star Faye Dunaway, whom she famously disliked: “Listen, what I’m really talking about is the difference between acting today and the time I was coming up through the ranks. It’s not just one person, it’s all the new actors. They simply have no responsibility to their lines… You know a star can wreck a set, my dear. And funnily enough, with all my reputation, I never blew on a set. NEVAH.”

On her Hollywood beginning:
“They simply didn’t know what to do with me. Every executive who first looked at me had the same comment: ‘What man is going to want to end up with her at the end of the movie?'”

On Howard Hughes, whom she reportedly bedded:
“He always had 10 or 12 girls stashed in apartments everywhere around town and, by God, they had better be there when he called, too.”

On women’s lib:
“This resurgence of the female is perfectly right, but, my dear, it is NEVAH, NEVAH, NEVAH going to be a woman’s world. It’s always going to be a man’s world or else men are going to be miserable.”

On alternate careers: “If I were just starting out now, I would never go into acting. I would have been an analyst or a criminal lawyer. I think I would have been a smashing criminal lawyer.”

On censorship: “Oh, boy, would I have been thrilled to have had less censorship. Who knows WHAT I would have done… Nude scenes? Well, if the script called for it and it was done in good taste, I probably would have, yes. But back then, you had to do everything sexual with looks. Fortunately, my dear, I had looks.”

On acting, now vs. then: “One of the young major actresses recently said to me, ‘Miss Davis, back then in your era, what was it really like?’ Well, I looked at her and said, ‘My dear, I have no era. I was acting back then, before back then, and I am acting now.’ My era will end the day they put me in the grave. And even then I will still have learned all of the lines for my funeral before they take me away.”

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus