In a Hollywood career that spanned 66 years, actor Bette Davis starred in classics like All About Eve, Dangerous, Jezebel and The Little Foxes, won two Oscars, was the subject of a famous 1981 song by Kim Carnes…and became known for her tough-talking, no-nonsense attitude to life. Bette told it how it was and said it like she meant it. Welcome to the Bette Davis Guide to Life…

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On being sexy…

I often think that a slightly exposed shoulder emerging from a long, satin nightgown packs more sex than two naked bodies in bed.

On popularity…

If everybody likes you, you’re pretty dull.

On being you…

It’s better to be hated for who you are, than to be loved for someone you’re not. It’s a sign of your worth sometimes, if you’re hated by the right people.

On love…

Pleasure of love lasts but a moment, pain of love lasts a lifetime.

On happiness…

You will never be happier than you expect. To change your happiness, change your expectation.

On unhappiness…

A sure way to lose happiness, I found, is to want it at the expense of everything else.

On inequality…

When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.

On success…

Success only breeds a new goal.

On courage…

The key to life is accepting challenges. Once someone stops doing this, he’s dead.

On confidence…

I was thought to be ‘stuck up.’ I wasn’t. I was just sure of myself. This is and always has been an unforgivable quality to the unsure.

On weakness…

The weak are the most treacherous of us all. They come to the strong and drain them. They are bottomless. They are insatiable. They are always parched and always bitter. They are everyone’s concern and like vampires they suck our life’s blood.

On needing help…

There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne.

On relationships…

Love is not enough. It must be the foundation, the cornerstone – but not the complete structure. It is much too pliable, too yielding.

On men…

The male ego, with few exceptions, is elephantine to start with.

On marriage…

I’d marry again if I found a man who had fifteen million dollars,
would sign over half to me, and guarantee that he’d be dead within a year.

On affairs…

I would advise any woman against having an affair with a married man believing he will ever leave his wife, no matter how often he says his wife does not understand him. Love is not as necessary to a man’s happiness as it is to a woman’s. If her marriage is satisfactory, a woman will seldom stray. A man can be totally contented and still be out howling at the moon.

On parenting…

Discipline is a symbol of caring to a child. He needs guidance. If there is love, there is no such thing as being too tough with a child. A parent must also not be afraid to hang himself. If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent.

On your 40s…

Anyone who says that life begins at 40 is full of it. As people get older their bodies begin to decay. They get sick. They forget things. What’s good about that?

On ageing…

Men become much more attractive when they start looking older. But it doesn’t do much for women, though we do have an advantage: make-up.

On retirement…

I will not retire while I’ve still got my legs and my make-up box.

On being old…

Old age is no place for sissies.

On dying…

You know what I’m going to have on my gravestone? ‘She did it the hard way’.

On being Bette…

I am just too much!

PA Photos

PA Photos