Davis personally auditioned every mutt in L.A.

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Davis personally auditioned every mutt in L.A.

She was one of the last screen goddesses. But get on the wrong side of Bette Davis and she was liable to detonate with all the force of a thousand classy A-bombs. Her mood could turn on a dime. Writing in Vanity Fair, the producer William Frye recalled meetings with the star that began well, only to end in the social equivalent of Armageddon.

 

One time, Davis and Frye were meeting the director Herschel Daugherty for a meal when Daugherty made the mistake of wagging his finger in Davis’ face. As Frye recalls it, Davis unleashed such a tirade on the director that she managed to clear out half the restaurant. Immediately afterward, she snapped back to being her usual self, like nothing had happened.

Legendary as Davis’ temper was, her obsessive attention to detail was almost equally notorious. Another Vanity Fair article details her work casting a dog for her film A Stolen Life. Rather than let a pet casting director (those exist) get involved, Davis personally auditioned every mutt in L.A. The dog didn’t even have a huge role; it was only in one key scene. According to the director, Davis’ efforts were wasted anyway. The dog was too scared of her to do any canine acting.

Finally, there was her endless feud with Joan Crawford. Not to rehash every detail, but Davis once spent an entire movie manipulating the crew to get Crawford fired, in a scheme Machiavelli himself would have thought too Machiavellian.

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