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Bette Davis: Roles She Missed That Other Actresses Made Famous

By    |   Tuesday, 26 Jan 2016 07:51 PM

Bette Davis earned a name for herself in Hollywood as a remarkable actress with striking eyes and a tough reputation. Even the biography on her official website acknowledges she was difficult to work with and notoriously outspoken, and that was part of her success.

“I was a legendary terror,” she once recalled, her New York Times obituary noted. “I was insufferably rude and ill-mannered in the cultivation of my career. I had no time for pleasantries. I said what was on my mind, and it wasn’t always printable. I have been uncompromising, peppery, intractable, monomaniacal, tactless, volatile, and ofttimes disagreeable. I suppose I’m larger than life.”

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Davis made nearly 100 films and received 10 Oscar nominations over her storied career. But there were roles she left for others, and sometimes, she missed parts that other actresses made famous. Here are a few of those.

1. “The African Queen”
When the movie was first to be made in 1938, Warner Bros. initially bought it with Davis and David Niven in mind, according to Turner Movie Classics. Davis was to play the role of the prim missionary Rose Sayer. But the project didn’t come together until 1949, and Davis was pregnant. Katharine Hepburn made the part famous.

2. “Anna and the King of Siam”
Davis was intrigued by the prospect of appearing in “Anna and the King of Siam,” author Ed Sikov wrote in the biography, “Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis.” But Warner Bros. refused to loan her to Twentieth-Century Fox and the role went to Irene Dunne, opposite Rex Harrison.

3. “Come Back, Little Sheba”
Davis said “one of the really great mistakes of my career,” Turner Movie Classics notes, was turning down the role of Lola Delaney in “Come Back, Little Sheba.” The role won Shirley Booth a Best Actress award at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.

4. “God's Country and the Woman”
Davis was supposed to star in this 1937 movie, but she turned it down and went on suspension, Sikov wrote in his book. It created a legal battle between the star and the studio. She lost the case but didn’t have to do the movie. Beverly Roberts got the part.

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5. “Gone with the Wind”
Losing out to Vivien Leigh for the part of Scarlett O'Hara in “Gone with the Wind” was one of her most bitter disappointments, Sikov wrote. “She rankled at the mention of the film for the rest of her life,” Sikov said.

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Bette Davis made nearly 100 films and received 10 Oscar nominations over her storied career. But there were roles she left for others, and sometimes, she missed parts that other actresses made famous.
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Tuesday, 26 Jan 2016 07:51 PM
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