Bette Davis (April 5, 1908 – October 6, 1989) was an American actress with a career spanning more than 50 years and 100 acting credits. She was noted for playing unsympathetic, sardonic characters, and was famous for her performances in a range of film genres, from contemporary crime melodramas to historical films, suspense horror, and occasional comedies, although her greater successes were in romantic dramas. A recipient of two Academy Awards, she was the first thespian to accrue ten nominations.
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During the 1940s Davis made several successful movies, including The Letter (1940), The Little Foxes (1941), Now, Voyager (1942), Watch on the Rhine (1943), and The Corn Is Green (1945), and she received Academy Award nominations for her performances in the first three films.
However, her career began to falter near the end of the decade. She severed her 18-year relationship with Warner Brothers in 1949 and staged the first of several spectacular comebacks with her virtuoso performance as Broadway diva Margot Channing in All About Eve (1950), which netted her another Oscar nod. She also portrayed Elizabeth I a second time in The Virgin Queen (1955).
Although she was again written off as washed up in the early 1960s, she revitalized her career with the Grand Guignol classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), for which she was again nominated for an Academy Award. In 1977 she became the first woman to receive the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award. Two years later she won an Emmy for her work in the made-for-television movie Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter (1979). She received a Kennedy Center honor in 1987. Davis suffered devastating health problems in her final decade, but she continued working until a year before her death.