20 of the Bitchiest Bette Davis Quotes

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She had a gift for playing unlikable characters and a reputation for being tough off-screen. Bette Davis, the “First Lady of the American Screen,” wasn’t afraid to behave badly and often relished the notion that others thought she was an A-class bitch. In an era when women who spoke their minds were dismissed as difficult — a stereotype we still struggle against — Davis was a beacon. Interviews with the silver screen’s grande dame reveal the actress was a pro when it came to throwing shade — and nobody was off-limits, including rival Joan Crawford. We’ve gathered some of Bette’s bitchiest quotes in good fun to celebrate her birthday.

Why am I so good at playing bitches? I think it’s because I’m not a bitch. Maybe that’s why [Joan Crawford] always plays ladies.

“There was more good acting at Hollywood parties than ever appeared on the screen.”

“I will never be below the title.”

“The best time I ever had with Joan Crawford was when I pushed her down the stairs in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

“I never did pal around with actresses. Their talk usually bored me to tears.”

“[referring to fourth husband, Gary Merrill] Gary was a macho man, but none of my husbands was ever man enough to become Mr. Bette Davis.”

“[on her greatest rival Joan Crawford] She has slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie.”

“[on Crawford] I wouldn’t piss on her if she was on fire.”

“[commenting on the death of long-time nemesis Joan Crawford] You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good… Joan Crawford is dead. Good.”

“[on Errol Flynn] He was just beautiful… Errol. He himself openly said, ‘I don’t know really anything about acting,’ and I admire his honesty because he’s absolutely right.”

“The male ego, with few exceptions, is elephantine to start with.”

“I am a woman meant for a man, but I never found a man who could compete.”

“I’d marry again if I found a man who had fifteen million dollars, would sign over half to me, and guarantee that he’d be dead within a year.”

“I survived because I was tougher than anybody else.”

“[when Ed Sullivan offered Davis $10,000 to do an imitation of Tallulah Bankhead on television] Miss Bankhead isn’t well enough known nationally to warrant my imitating her.”

“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.”

“Old age is no place for sissies.”

“If everybody likes you, you’re pretty dull.”

“[during tension on the set of The Whales of August (1987) about her esteemed costar Lillian Gish] She ought to know about close-ups! Jesus, she was around when they invented them!”

“Today everyone is a star — they’re all billed as ‘starring’ or ‘also starring’. In my day, we earned that recognition.”