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Bette Davis

"It is true that I never should have married, but I didn't want to live without a man. Brought up to respect the conventions, love had to end in marriage. I'm afraid it did."

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"It all started when I was told that I had a gift. The gods are Yankee traders. There are no gifts. Everything has a price, and in bitter moments I have been tempted to cry 'Usury!'"

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"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."

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"To look back is to relax one's vigil."

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"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."

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent."

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"There are new words now that excuse everybody. Give me the good old days of heroes and villains. The people you can bravo or hiss. There was a truth to them that all the slick credulity of today cannot touch."

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"I do not regret one professional enemy I have made. Any actor who doesn't dare to make an enemy should get out of the business."

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"The act of sex, gratifying as it may be, is God's joke on humanity. It is man's last desperate stand at superintendency."

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"My passions were all gathered together like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today; I knew it then as purpose."

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"Without discipline and detachment, an actor is an emotional slob, spilling his insides out. This abandonment is having an unfortunate vogue. It is tasteless, formless, absurd. Without containment there is no art. All this vomiting and wheezing and bursting at the seams is no more great acting than the convulsions of raving maniacs."

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"Without wonder and insight, acting is just a trade. With it, it becomes creation."

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"I am doomed to an eternity of compulsive work. No set goal achieved satisfies. Success only breeds a new goal. The golden apple devoured has seeds. It is endless."

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"To fulfill a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labor, to be given the chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life. The money is the gravy. As everyone else, I love to dunk my crust in it. But alone, it is not a diet designed to keep body and soul together."

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"Temperament is something that is an integral part of the artist. Not temper, temperament. There is a vast difference."

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"It has been my experience that one cannot, in any shape or form, depend on human relations for lasting reward. It is only work that truly satisfies."

Bette Davis, The Lonely Life (1962)

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"The person who wants to make it has to sweat. There are no short cuts. And you've got to have the guts to be hated. That's the hardest part."

Bette Davis, in Mary Brannum, When I Was 16 (1967)

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"I see -- she's the original good time that was had by all."

Bette Davis, in Leslie Halliwell, The Filmgoer's Book of Quotes (1973)

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"I may not have been wearing a mink coat, but I was traveling with a dog. That should have made you think I was an actress!"

Bette Davis, Mother Goddamn (1974)

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"This became a credo of mine: Attempt the impossible in order to improve your work."

Bette Davis, Mother Goddamn (1974)

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"Wave after wave of love flooded the stage and washed over me. This was the beginning of the one great durable romance of my life."

Bette Davis, on her first solo curtain call, in People (1977)

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"We movie stars all end up by ourselves. Who knows? Maybe we want to."

Bette Davis, in Christopher P. Anderson, The New Book of People (1986)

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"Old age ain't no place for sissies."

Bette Davis, with Michael Herskowitz, This 'N That (1987)

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"Among the reasons marriages fail, sex ranks no higher than fourth, behind money, having only one bathroom, and an inability to communicate, reasons one, two and three."

Bette Davis, with Michael Herskowitz, This 'N That (1987)

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"Almost as many inhumanities are committed in the name of love as in the name of religion."

Bette Davis, with Michael Herskowitz, This 'N That (1987)

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"I firmly believe, however, that if your children have never hated you, you have failed as a parent."

Bette Davis, with Michael Herskowitz, This 'N That (1987)

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

Bette Davis, with Michael Herskowitz, This 'N That (1987)

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"The man, my dear, is never going to make a marriage work. If it works, the woman does it."

Bette Davis, 1976, in Nancy Collins, Hard to Get (1990)

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"The real actor, like any artist, has or finds a direct line to the collective heart."

Bette Davis, in Charlotte Chandler, The Girl Who Walked Home Alone: Bette Davis (2007)

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"Success is built on disappointment, and disappointment is inherent in all success."

Bette Davis, in Charlotte Chandler, The Girl Who Walked Home Alone: Bette Davis (2007)

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"People stood on their chairs, cheering and waving. And it was all for me! Waves of love flooded the stage and washed over me. I started to cry. The sweetness of such a moment is impossible to describe. One is both lover and beloved. ... I'd found the one true, enduring romance of my life."

Bette Davis, in Charlotte Chandler, The Girl Who Walked Home Alone: Bette Davis (2007)

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"If you want a thing well done, get a couple of old broads to do it. "

Bette Davis

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"When I heard that people were talking about me, I consoled myself with what my mother, Ruthie, used to say: 'Birds peck at the best fruit.'"

Bette Davis, in Charlotte Chandler, The Girl Who Walked Home Alone: Bette Davis (2007)

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

Bette Davis

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"Joan Crawford is a movie star. I am an actress."

Bette Davis

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"I'd luv to kiss ya, but I just washed my hair."

Bette Davis

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"If a man stands up for his rights, he's admired. If a woman stands up for her rights, she's a bitch."

Bette Davis

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"When a man gives his opinion he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion she's a bitch."

Bette Davis

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"I have eyes like a bullfrog, a neck like an ostrich and long, limp hair. You just have to be good to survive with that equipment."

Bette Davis

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"Home is where you go to when you've nowhere to go."

Bette Davis

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"Some young Hollywood starlets remind me of my grandmother's old farmhouse -- all painted up nice on the front side, a big swing on the backside, and nothing whatsoever in the attic."

Bette Davis

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"[On gay men:] Let me say, a more artistic, appreciative group of people for the arts does not exist ... They are more knowledgeable, more loving of the arts. They make the average male look stupid."

Bette Davis, in The Advocate (1977)

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"I would take a bad script and a good director any day against a good script and a bad director."

Bette Davis

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"There's only one way to work -- like hell."

Bette Davis

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"I often think that a slighty exposed shoulder emerging from a long satin nightgown packed more sex than two naked bodies in bed."

Bette Davis

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"[On Jayne Mansfield:] Dramatic art in her opinion is knowing how to fill a sweater."

Bette Davis, in James Robert Parish, The Hollywood Book of Extravagance (2011)

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"I'd marry again if I found a man who had $15 million and would sign over half of it to me before the marriage, and guarantee he'd be dead within the year."

Bette Davis

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"It's a rare man who can stand being around an intelligent woman, let alone married to her."

Bette Davis

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"One begins to realize that one is getting old when the birthday candles weigh more than the cake."

Bette Davis

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"I was so uncomfortable at a party recently when the conversation droned on about women who are constantly getting married. I was on the edge of my chair, close to squirming in embarrassment because I myself was guilty of four husbands. I finally leaned forward and squeaked, 'But one died!'"

Bette Davis, in Jane Wilkie, Confessions of an Ex-Fan Magazine Writer (1981)

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"I think that sex is God's joke on human beings."

Bette Davis, in Jane Wilkie, Confessions of an Ex-Fan Magazine Writer (1981)

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Bette Davis, U.S. actor
(1908 - 1989)

Some of the unsourced quotes are actually lines said by Bette Davis in films but often attributed to her. Others are possibly apocryphal.