The last time I saw Bette Davis, she was in her dotage, the painful ravages of cancer and a paralyzing stroke cruelly evident. We had tea in a Manhattan hotel room, and she admitted her two favorite words were “What’s next?” Her days in front of a camera were mortgaged beyond revival, but with her flaring nostrils and incendiary nicotine butts, and still walking like an anchovy, she slashed the air with one parting shot: “You have not seen the end of Bette Davis!”
Apparently she was right. Eighteen years after her death, they are still writing books about her. This is as it should be. She created a template for movie acting that generations of starlets have tried but failed to follow. So the obsession with Bette Davis continues to resonate, redefining Hollywood “longevity.” Few of yesterday’s divinities affect audiences with the same force. But after so many friends, enemies, colleagues and poseurs — even her daughter B. D., who logged in with her own controversial “Mommie Dearest”-type broadside — have written everything they know, the question is “What else is there to say?” With Ed Sikov’s “Dark Victory” as evidence, I submit that the answer is a reluctant “Nothing much.”
more from the NY Times Book Review here.