Larry King Live (1985–2010)
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Episode dated 24 February 1988 



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Episode credited cast:
Bette Davis ... Herself - Guest


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24 February 1988 (USA) See more »

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One of Bette Davis' Final Television Interviews?
4 August 2007 | by semioticzSee all my reviews

Since Bette Davis died in October of 1989 & this interview with Larry King was aired in February of 1988 while she was living with terminal cancer, perhaps this is one of her last television interviews.

She was 79 years of age & obviously ailing. Her spiteful, neo-Christian daughter B.D.--the eldest daughter whom she adored--had already published in 1985 (!) a cruel exploitative book about her relationship with her famous mother.

I'd watched Bette Davis on a Phil Donahue show (not listed in any credits here & I can't recall the exact show date & time--but it was very late in her life like this interview) as she addressed the issue of the heartbreak she endured over B.D.'s mean-spirited, higher-than-thou text. Donahue read a short excerpt to his audience of Bette Davis's written response to B.D.. It went something like this--paraphrasing (The book is entitled, "My Mother's Keeper): 'if you've been my keeper than how come it is my name that you will depend upon to sell your book?'

Her own words before Donahue read the actual quote of my paraphrase were the essence of this: 'B.D. & I were very close. This is how she feels now. And that's that'.

She was the consummate lady until the very end of her life. She took her adored daughter's nasty hits like a trooper. That was the very spirit of Bette Davis on & off screen.

That is also how she appeared on this interview with Larry King 20 months before she left this Earth leaving an amazing amount of filmed & written work left for each of us to enjoy--forever.

What it must have been like to be such a hard working actress & mother during the 30's, 40's, 50's & 60's well before it was socially acceptable or socially supported to be a working mother who was among the most famous working mothers in the world in her day.

The emotions Davis' films, candid interviews & writings, plus contributions to WWII supportive efforts like, "Hollywood Canteen," & "Thank Your Lucky Stars," are filled with deep wells of gratitude to a woman I would loved to have known for one single minute.

This was not an actress who ever used her beauty, a beauty that she didn't realize she had!, or sexual bribery of executive producers, to make her way to the very pique of a career as a world renowned actor. It showed in the Larry King interview that who she wanted to be was the best she could be. Never more, never less. Matter of fact & to that point.

As a reference, my favorite interviews of Bette Davis are in 1970 & 71 by Dick Cavett. Those should be considered the classic ones. She was 62 years of age & truly at her prime of being a very wise woman with an absolutely contagious sense of humor. I couldn't sense a pretentious thing about her. She told it like it was. Point blank. Her own autobiography is entitled, "The Lonely Life." It's very difficult for me to think about Bette Davis, who is still ever so beloved today, as lonely. I'd stay by her side & drink her bath water!

As to what B.D. had to say of her good enough mother, I'll trade ya, hon! The fool didn't recognize what a gem she had & then broke the elderly woman's heart when she was dying. Then dares to call herself a "Christian." That was clear on the King interview. Good thing Davis had better children than B.D.. Her son, Michael, disputes what B.D. wrote. I always wondered what B.D. stood for. Now I know it means, "Bad Daughter." Of course, I can think of my more choice adjectives . . . the likes of which her mother used in a great many classic performances.

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