BETTE DAVIS: An Intimate Memoir by Roy Moseley

BETTE DAVIS: An Intimate Memoir

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Moseley's brief memoir is indeed the most intimate book ever published about Bette Davis. The writing, while not distinguished, neither hypes nor veils its great subject, although it does show Moseley himself as star-smitten and full of an uplift just short of gush. Whatever failings Moseley may have as a writer, he gets us right up beside Davis and keeps us there through the wars that Davis herself brings on. Nearly all of Davis' battles as seen here spring from a massive ego that needed constant reassurance and total devotion. Moseley was her closest confidant for 15 years, during her long professional downslide, exit from horror movies, and entry into dozens of small-scale productions in TV, films abroad, and in Hollywood. At one point, they considered marriage--she asked him, but later thought better of it--although Moseley had made clear to her that he wanted no sexual tie because he wanted to remain her friend and sex would have killed their closeness. The Davis who emerges here is somewhat warmer than that who appears in earlier biographies, and is not quite the monster of Davis' daughter B.D.'s autobiography, My Mother's Keeper. But monster she is, flying off into rages, blowing up at slights that are never meant as slights. A small measure of alcohol could bring on the well-known Jekyll/Hyde change, with Bette viciously high and mighty. Moseley knew that his day would come when Bette dismissed him from her life, but he weathered their long intimacy by subservience to her whims, by being her greatest fan, lighting her cigarettes, arranging rooms and restaurants for her comfort--and so got to sit by the bathroom door while she bathed and lie abed with her to watch TV into the night. From this we get the inside story of her most famous battles and the secrets about which stars she liked (Harlow, Garbo, Crawford) and disliked (Faye Dunaway, Ingrid Bergman) and why. A must for the Davis shelf.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1990
Publisher: Donald Fine