Friday, April 3, 2009

The Bette Davis Feuds: Round 2, Hopkins

Bette Davis won a second Academy Award for her performance as a spoiled southern belle in Jezebel in 1938 and it is said that Miriam Hopkins cried. The southern born Hopkins had played the plum role of Julie on Broadway and had hoped to play it in the film version at Warner Brothers. Losing the part to Davis was only the tip of the iceberg.

The same year that Jezebel was released, Davis made The Sisters with Errol Flynn. The director was Anatole Litvak and he and leading lady Bette were reportedly having an affair. Mrs. Litvak at the time was none other than Miriam Hopkins. Never a shrinking violet, Hopkins was livid.

The following year the two rivals were cast together in The Old Maid, a story about, what else, two women in love with the same man. Hopkins, a notorious scene stealer, was constantly trying to upstage Davis. Warners played on the star studded cat fight to build publicity for the film. Four years later they would do it all again in Old Acquaintance, where they played professional and yet again romantic rivals. Talk about life imitating art.


  1. I never knew that Bette and Miriam had that much history between the two of them. Thanks for posting that Rupert. Learn something new everyday.

  2. I think that Hopkins is a very underrated actress: she was excellent in anything she did, comedy or romance. Her catlike style can be charming or disturbing but is always very effective.I like her much more than the overrated an often overacting Davis.

  3. It's true, Bette was overrated and overacting, but definitely not in The Old Maid which is one of her most inspired perfomances (the same can be said of Old Acquaintance), I think the match with such a good actress as Hopkins somehow spurred her to give her very best.

  4. Bette Davis was not overrated and did NOT overact. You people are just used to seeing the untalented idiots of today who look like themselves, talk like themselves, and basically play themselves, so you don't know what real acting is.

  5. Bette was a great actress in my opinion and Miriam Hopkins was good, too, but Miriam often chewed up the scenery to the film's detriment. Her acting style often seemed dated...except for her performance in The Heiress. I thought she was masterful! Just my opinion.
    Bette was so good that her performance forced fellow actors to up their games. And Bette led such a rebellious and openly sexual life that it is natural for female castmates to hate her.
    Would you want your husband or boyfriend acting in a Bette davis film?
    If you don't think Bette is a good actress, watch The Sisters. She makes me believe that she loves Errol Flynn's character. Can you imagine what it was like on the set between takes? Wish they had filmed those scenes!

  6. Let us just say 'We are all blessed these two ladies and others got to work their crafts at their very best and inspired. Such is the stuff of legend(s), discussion, and entertainment without regrets.' They will long be the subjects and each subject of teachers and admiring fans.



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