Davis’ showstopping performance in “The Little Foxes” proved her depth as an actress. Her character, Regina Hubbard Giddens, was a manipulative, kittenish figure who turned into a haughty and disdainful but secretly haunted older woman. Bette’s portrayal is a tragic mask of fear and dismay.
Davis wanted to make the role her own but Wyler insisted she emulate the interpretation of the actress who played the character on Broadway. Obviously, the demand infuriated Davis, who clashed with the director until she got her way. Davis was nominated for another Academy Award for her performance and with that, she decided to never work with Wyler again.
Brash or Bold?
In January 1941, Davis was appointed as the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This was an incredible honor, but it wouldn't last long, as committee members would go on to say that she was antagonistic, and brash and put forth radical proposals.
We don't know about you, but to us, it sounds like the people at the Academy couldn't handle a woman having power and actually making use of it. She had to face a lot of resistance from the committee and before the year was up, she gave in and voluntarily resigned.
A Welcome Change
After leaving her position as the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Davis knew by now that she should dedicate her time solely to acting. She starred in three movies in 1941, the first being "The Great Lie," with George Brent.
It was a welcome change for Davis from her usual characters, which were not typical for women at the time and featured a certain edge. Instead, this time, she portrayed a kind and compassionate woman. Davis also starred in "The Little Foxes" which was directed by William Wyler, but the two clashed over her character.
A Perfectionist in Her Craft
Davis became known for her intense acting style, gaining her a reputation as a perfectionist who would often be at odds with film directors and studio executives. Her confrontational reputation preceded her and she expected the same dedication from her co-stars.
Though she might have been a pain to work with, she made everyone around her give their best. And honestly, if a man in her position was to behave in such a way, he would have been celebrated for his determination. Her straightforward manner, distinctive speech, and the ever-present cigarette in her hand contributed to her celebrity status which has been often imitated.
Following the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Davis wanted to contribute to the war effort and started selling war bonds. Putting her celebrity status into good use, Bette Davis managed to sell close to $2 million worth of bonds in just two days, along with a poster of herself for $250,000. Wow! That must be the most successful crowdfunding campaign we have ever heard of.
Bette Davis, Cary Grant, and Jule Styne opened a servicemen's club called the Hollywood Canteen, where Hollywood's most influential stars volunteered to entertain visiting soldiers and servicemen. Now, THAT'S what star power is for!