A look at library book sales through ‘Bette Davis’ eyes’

Stuart Michner

I’ve been collecting stuff. I don’t consider myself a materialist, but things do make me feel good. rest assured. It’s easier to know them than to know people, because objects accept you as you are.

—Bette Davis (1908-1989)

TonFriday’s friends and mystery guest at the Library Book Sales Foundation might say the same about collectible books. Bette Davis’ first husband, Harmon “Oscar” Nelson, knew from experience. According to the New York Times of December 7, 1938, the reason for the divorce was her “too much reading.”Nelson claims she “reads to an unnecessarily level…. It’s all very frustrating.” As for accepting her as she is, it was at his insistence that she had two abortions that may have saved her career career, as she admitted in an interview with Charlotte Chandler in the 1980s The Girl Who Comes Home Alone: ​​Bette Davis, Biography (Simon and Schuster 2006).

When Chandler asked Davis what she thought of the title, based on why Groucho Marx brought two girls to the party (“because I hate seeing a girl walk home alone”), she said, “Of course I want that title. This is me. This is the story of my life.” The title of “Alone” somewhat softened Davis’ image as an outspoken cynic, saying “how dump,” she looked at Joseph Cotton’s apartment beyond the forest (1949) – Elizabeth Taylor as Richard Burton’s George in Edward Albee’s film Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?(1966). Betty was desperate to play Martha, but the two-time Oscar winner, once Hollywood’s highest-grossing star, couldn’t compete with the mid-’60s media like Dick and Leeds.

oh those eyes

The first recorded reaction to Bette Davis’ eyes was simple and to the point. When she was about to be fired from Universal before making the film, a cameraman told the studio president that her “cute eyes” made her a natural fit for the film’s sweet, unassuming sister role. bad sister (1931), which proved to be her film debut. Fifty years later, Kim Carnes recorded “Bette Davis Eyes,” a 1981 hit with lyrics that improvised stereotypes (“She’s fierce, she knows how to make the pros blush / All the boys think she’s a spy) , she has Bette Davis eyes”). Davis, who was 73 at the time, liked the song because it “made my grandkids think I was cool.” She told Chandler that her secret ambition was to become a “femme beauty.”There’s a hint in the lyrics: “She’ll make fun of you and upset you, just to please you.” Photo on bad sister The Wikipedia page shows that the teasing/disturbing aura already exists.

“She might roll you”

A great star of Hollywood’s golden age can be found in the old and unusual section of the library book sale, as the song goes, “She’ll Let You Take Her Home,” but she’s not a cheap date, she might” Roll you like dice until you’re blue.” But how many times have you seen a book plate with soulful Scotty, with sadness and loneliness, give me a good home Bette Davis’s Eyes staring at you?

At the upcoming auction, viewers will find Bette Davis’s bibliography in three bound volumes of Harper’s Magazine, two from 1869 and one from 1891. I flipped through the books the other day to see if I could find clues as to why there’s a well – the actresses who read them thought they were worthy of her plate. The first thing I noticed was that in the context of “divorce by overreading”, George du Maurier had a full-page drawing of a down-to-earth woman at a formal party with her husband, titled “What prompted him to marry her?” studio executives and many others, as Davis knew, asked the same question, substituting “hire her,” with film critic David Tom In Sen’s words, the “far from pretty girl” and “throbbing eyes” could “be a movie star forever,” not to mention, as Thomson put it, “spread sable on the ground with Queen Elizabeth before Raleigh. All the pre-emptive ingenuity of tracking the show’s theme in the audience’s path.”

Davis as Elizabeth I

The most important connection between Harper Article and a famous Bette Davis character is Walter Besant’s “The Good Queen Beth’s London”.Whether she’s reading this before or after playing the queen, when actress Ruth Elizabeth Davis first expressed interest in Elizabeth, John Ford’s Mary of Scots, she was rejected.Four years later, she won two Oscars and will star in The private lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) with Errol Flynn, the same year various polls called her “America’s Most Popular Star”.she plays elizabeth again virgin queen (1955). At the time, it was rumored last week that the world’s second Queen Elizabeth had been monarch for three years.according to girl going home aloneWhen Princess Diana invited “her favourite actresses” to tea at Kensington Palace in 1987, Davis told her messenger, “I’ve never met the royals, it’s too late.” , she did send a copy of her memoir, this and thattitled “We in America admire what you have done for the royal family.”

brave librarian

As the embattled small-town librarian, who else but Bette Davis could go from the Elizabethan era into the Red Scare hysteria of 1950s America. storm center? Now as timely as it was in 1956, the film follows her refusal to withdraw a book (communist dream). A key scene on YouTube shows her defending her right to keep the book in the collection. As might happen today, when the town council found out that she had previous ties to an organisation that was discovered to be the Communist Front, she deleted the book and lost her job, the town turned against her instead of supporting her. While the film ends with the librarian returning to work and determined not to succumb to censorship, storm center Although it won a special award at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival for “Movie of the Year Most Contributing to the Expression of Freedom and Tolerance,” it was a critical and financial disappointment.

“Now, Voyager”

Given the variety and scope of Bette Davis’ epic career, it’s no surprise that she’ll rendezvous with Walt Whitman at some point, as happened in one of her iconic films, Now, Voyager (1942), where one of the “far from pretty girls” read Walter’s short poem “Needs of the Unknown” and followed the line “Now, Voyager, set sail, to seek and discover,” she so Did, sailed back from her like a stylish Bette Davis, seemingly changed by Walt Whitman’s words.

IIt’s safe to say that of the thousands of books auctioned this year, among them Ernest Hemingway, Albert Camus, George Orwell, Raymond Chandler and Albert Love Einstein’s first edition, which is bound to have numbers of or about Walter, whose “savage yawp” will be heard again at the 19th annual “My Own Song” marathon for the first time in three years Group reading on site. Held at the Granite Prospect in Brooklyn Bridge Park, this Saturday at 3 p.m., 52 readers read 52 parts of Whitman’s epic. For information, visit waltwhitmaninitiative.org.


Book sales will be available for pre-orders on Friday, September 16th from 10am to noon. The first 25 tickets are $20 per person, the next ticket is $5 per person, and admission is free for Friends of the Library. Numbered ticket patrons at the door will enter the sale in numerical order starting at 8am, and the number of patrons in the room will always be limited to 25. Free admission for the remainder of the sale on Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting at noon on Friday. Hours of operation are Friday noon to 5:30 pm, Saturday 10 am to 5:30 pm, and Sunday noon to 5:30 pm.

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