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faces I have ever seen. Oh, there are times, when I am dressed to go out in the evening, when I catch a slight glimpse of myself and think, 'Not so bad, Davis, not so bad.' The only other allowance I can make for myself, and it's rather a plaintive one, considering how I have just described my eyes, is that, buU-froggishness and all, my eyes are really my best feature.
"And I love beauty, too," said Bette fiercely. "I envy beautiful women. I love sumptuousness in every way. I'm not extravagant, but I would certainly adore to have one wild splurge in my life. I'd love to buy myself luxuries from the skin out. I'd love to have my room entirely cleaned out and then begin all over again, with every single thing new and simply too elegant. I'd like to have wonderful underwear, which I've never had in my life. I'd love to have dozens of pairs of mules, the kind that look like butterflies on the feet. I'd buy dozens of dresses, with millions of accessories. I'd buy ten skin sables, the kind that goop all over you. Not minks nor ermines. They don't mean a thing to me. I'd buy dozens of wonderful tailored blouses, the kind that Claudette Colbert wears so often. Just once in my life," cried Bette, "I'd like to sow my wild oats about luxuries.''
And as Bette went on, indulging in her mental orgy, I thought that she was doing a better job of skinning the star and revealing the woman beneath than even she knew. For with this confessed love of luxury has gone a common sense, a balance, an economy of living which, like giant indicators, point to a character which deserves a hand off the screen, as well as on. For Bette has, in every way, lived her private life as her husband's wife, thus proving a rare sensitiveness to a situation which could have been intolerable to any man, and usually is.
I CAME to to hear Bette saying, "If I have anything to offer professionally, it's certainly not my beauty. It is, if anything, reality. It's the love of being other people. That's something I was born with. It's something of the same quality, if I may make so proud a boast, that Spencer Tracy gives — that sense of reality so real that you believe he is the character he is playing. I love to be other people and I believe that I give to the 'other people' I play a certain uncompromising honesty. Also, I'm conscientious about my work._ I strive to please. I treat my work as a job to be done as competently as possible. I don't pull cute tricks on the set. I don't waste my time or the time of others by being late for work, by not knowing my lines. I realize that other people are there to work, too, not to play audience to Davis being the diva.
"I love fame. It's a bad business to go onto the stage or screen just for the sake or the hope of becoming famous. But once you're in the profession, fame is your tangible reward. I thank God for autograph seekers ! Annoy me ? I love them ! But for the fact that people recognize us, we would have no visible indications that our work is being appreciated. I love admiration. I eat it up. I don't always believe it, but it's tonic just the same. I love people. I can't bear to be alone for four minutes.
"You said you wanted a personal story?'' Bette went on, with that vehemence which is a Davis characteristic. "Well, you're getting one. I'm practically taking myself to pieces, turning myself inside out. I'll
now trot out all of my little virtues and most beastly little vices and set them up in neat rows like the nine-pins children play with. This should be the Davis story to end "all Davis stories, for it is the ivhole truth.
"Of my' virtues, the greatest is, that I'm considerate of other people. I sort of seem to know how other people feel, not only how / feel, which is awfully white of me, wouldn't you say?" (I would say, and so have others . . . such as the prop man Bette rescued from going to jail when he was arrested, a frame-up, for drunk driving. Bette came to the rescue, then, with money for bail and money for a lawyer, time and money both . . . and saved the fellow from a miscarriage of justice and from imprisonment . . . and Margaret, Bette's hairdresser, who told me that Bette will hurry with her make-up, do her own hair if necessary, when she knows that Margaret has a date and would like to get off early . . . ) "I appreciate things people do for me," Bette was saying.
"My worst fault, the one that sticks its ugly head out beyond its fellows, is my impatience with slow-thinking people, stupid people. I cannot suffer fools gladly. I simply can't. I'm intolerant of incompetency in servants. I'm intolerant of incompetency in any job. If my car is dirty I'm simply furious. If a servant polishes only one vase a day I want that vase polished flazvlessly and if it isn't I am very disagreeable about it.
"I'm intolerant of false flattery, the brand saleswomen hand out when they tell you that you look too, too divine in a hat which you know makes you resemble a starving Armenian. I'm so intolerant of that kind of false flattery that I feel positively ugly about it.
"I'm fairly intolerant of people who don't fight for what they want from life; people who sit back and sigh with puling patience and say, 'It's the breaks.' They are always the people who, when things are riding high for them pat themselves on the back and say, 'What a bright boy am I !' I can't bear people who are always expecting other people to do for them what they should be doing for themselves. I never answer letters frorn girls who write and ask me to 'get them' in the movies. There's only one person who can get you in the movies, or anywhere else, and that's yourself. No one ever 'got me'
"Wasn't that killing?" William Gargan asks Frank Morgan. And merrily they laugh!