Did anyone see Bette Davis on Broadway?

BobbyBubbi
Stand-by
joined:1/7/14
I've been immersed in James Spada's book BETTE DAVIS MORE THAN A WOMAN, and I was curious if anyone here had seen Bette on Broadway in any capacity? Her formative days in the late 1920's, or the musical revue Two's Company in 1952, or in The Night of the Iguana in 1961?

I think it's sad Bette couldn't really find success onstage after her film career at Warner's.

What did you think?
Ed_Mottershead
Broadway Legend
joined:10/20/05
I saw her in The Night of the Iguana shortly after it opened. When she first appeared onstage, there was a roar of applause that lasted so long that she broke character and acknowledged the ovation. At the final curtain call, however, there was an ovation for Margaret Leighton and the applause lessened noticeably when Davis took her call. She was absolutely WRONG for the role from the get-go -- light years away from being the sexual, bawdy Maxine that Williams envisioned. I would imagine that her replacement, Shelley Winters, whom I did not see, was much closer to the mark. Watch the movie and see Ava Gardner really get into the role. Davis was too old and had NO sexual charisma whatsoever. Apparently she realized her mistake and got out of the run as soon as she could.
BroadwayEd
Phyllis Rogers Stone
Broadway Legend
joined:9/16/07
I can't wait for the stories from the posters who saw her on Broadway in the 20s!
BobbyBubbi
Stand-by
joined:1/7/14
Thanks for your insight, Ed. The Spada book tells the same story about her entrance.

He also explains Bette was trying to make herself more glamorous and sexy for the role instead of playing it as written, and that the part, of a woman losing her allure and sex appeal, hit too close to home for Bette.

I will definitely check out the movie.

Were you starstruck by Davis? I know I probably would be...
BobbyBubbi
Stand-by
joined:1/7/14
"I can't wait for the stories from the posters who saw her on Broadway in the 20s!"

I guess you're right, my grandma was 8 when Davis made her Broadway debut, it's a long shot but you never know.

Still any information that might have been passed down from Grandparents, friends ect, would be welcome.

Updated On: 7/1/14 at 01:22 PM
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
I saw her my fresman year in college in a thing called Bette Davis in Person and on Film, hosted by John Springer, a legendary theatrical press agent and producer. He had done a series of evenings at Town Hall with Davis, Joan Crawford, Myrna Loy and some other ladies.

David and Crawford were the most successful. He released an audio recording of the Crawford and took Davis around the country and to Australia and then to England.

This is what she looked like, sitting on stage in a big chair, dressed rather campily in a gown and a feather boa and smoking cigarette after cigarette in a long cigarette holder.



There isn't much available on the Internet about this evening, but here is a link to a somewhat cranky review. I don't remember caring about the sound quality or the film quality. It was just a thrill to watch the clips with her there, knowing that she'd soon be onstage and talking to us.

http://tinypic.com/r/1zvzuqr/8



yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
Updated On: 7/1/14 at 01:45 PM
DAME
Broadway Legend
joined:4/15/04
I have a really bad audio recording of this .
HUSSY POWER! ------ HUSSY POWER!
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04

Of the Davis? I thought there was only a recording of the Joan Crawford evening.

Here's a transcript of the the Crawford. Her first line is just perfect and then it keeps getting better.

http://www.joancrawfordbest.com/townhallinterview.htm

yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
DAME
Broadway Legend
joined:4/15/04
PJ I will double check. I have so much of this stuff that I sometimes get confused with what I have.
HUSSY POWER! ------ HUSSY POWER!
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
I saw P.S. Bette Davis at Actor's Playhouse. Does that count?

I thought that Davis was pissed off at someone in the cast and left the show. I can't remember the scenario, but Shelley Winters talks in one of her auto-lie-ographies about coming into the dressing room and Davis had left her a message written on the mirror in lipstick.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
BobbyBubbi
Stand-by
joined:1/7/14
Thanks, Joey for the picture and the info. I was hoping someone here had seen her College/University tour.

I know you said you were excited, but does anything else stick out?

And yes, I guess I should rephrase it, if you have seen her live in any capacity, it counts!
Updated On: 7/1/14 at 02:35 PM
Mr. Nowack
Broadway Star
joined:2/2/14
What about her dead-on-the-road musical adaptation of The Corn Is Green, MISS MOFFAT? It wasn't Broadway, but it was Broadway bound.
I was previously known as Mr. Nowak (Joined: 5/20/13).
Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/05
After Eight's grand daughter was in Bette Davis' 3rd grade school play with her so he saw that a couple of times. According to historical archives, he absolutely hated it.
Ed_Mottershead
Broadway Legend
joined:10/20/05
I have the CD of the Crawford thing at Town Hall -- it's a hoot. When asked about working with Bette in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, she said something to the effect that "Miss Davis, when angry, would scream and holler and shout and make a scene. I preferred to knit when angered and by the time I'd finished working with Miss Davis, I'd knitted a scarf that would stretch from Los Angeles to San Francisco."
BroadwayEd
BobbyBubbi
Stand-by
joined:1/7/14
Nowack- I didn't know if MISS MOFFAT "counted," as it never made it to Broadway when Bette backed out.

To me it counts, absolutely. If anyone saw it chime in please! I'd love to read about it.

I was just trying to keep the discussion to her appearances on Broadway, since that is what the main board is about. I didn't want people to be upset that this topic maybe one for the "off topic" section.

Anyway. If anyone has seen Bette live, in any capacity, please share your stories. I would love to read them. :)
carolineorchange21
Featured Actor
joined:1/21/12
The creators of MISS MOFFAT were under the impression that Davis was going to 'sing-speak' in the manner of Rex Harrison and Robert Preston but she showed up at first rehearsal announcing that she was going to SING the role. This was disastrous by all accounts and through several creative and casting changes, Davis was gradually convinced to 'deliver' rather than sing her songs which made all the difference. Unfortunately, after maybe a week of giving reportedly great performances using the sing-speak method, Davis' old psychologically-related back spasms stemming from a late 50s fall* reared their ugly head and she left the production which, as a star vehicle, closed immediately.





*Davis hurt her back by opening a door and falling down into a stair-less basement. At the time, she was set to guest star on an episode of the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour as 'The Star Next Door' but obviously couldn't and was replaced by rival-in-her-own-mind Miss Tallulah Bankhead who made her episode the best of the series.










We can sandwich toast to orgasms and do our time in peace
Updated On: 7/3/14 at 12:24 AM
BobNC
Stand-by
joined:6/30/13
I'm confused by Jordan Catalano's message: how could anyone still be alive who had a granddaughter who was in Bette Davis's third grade play?


Updated On: 7/2/14 at 06:53 AM
Susanswerphone
Understudy
joined:4/26/14
BobbyBubbi: If you're interested in the real back story about the ill-fated Miss Moffat, grab a copy of the August issue of Opera News. The article is "Bette Davis's Biggest Flop" and it had nothing at all to do with back spasms. If you don't want to purchase, it should be available on the ON website after August 1.
It also has a nice profile on Marin Mazzie and an article by Michael John LaChiusa as well.

VIETgrlTerifa
Broadway Legend
joined:1/18/04
I guess the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour was a very minor payback for the fact that Bette Davis would play in a few of the film versions of the roles that Tallulah Bankhead created on stage.

Interesting that Bette was going to guest star on Lucy's show. If I were to believe that Lucille Ball movie, Bette was a totally bitch to her while they were in drama school together.
"I've got to get me out of here This place is full of dirty old men And the navigators and their mappy maps And moldy heads and pissing on sugar cubes While you stare at your books."
Updated On: 7/20/14 at 12:29 AM
carolineorchange21
Featured Actor
joined:1/21/12
Susanswerphone:

here is the link to the Opera News article:

http://www.operanews.com/Opera_News_Magazine/2014/8/Features/Stage_Fright.html

Bette Davis had a history of physically manifesting deeper psychological issues and frequently fell ill when faced with great pressure. She came down with a mysterious rash and lethargy after getting one of her first paying acting jobs (I'm currently at work and don't have any of my Bette Davis books but I believe the job was either THE WILD DUCK on the road or BROKEN DISHES on Broadway) and had to learn the part while in her sickbed.

Davis' first post-film theatrical endeavor was a revue called TWO'S COMPANY, during which she complained of fatigue and left the show to be hospitalized for osteomyelitis of the jaw.



Bette was a very difficult person who dealt with substance abuse and rage issues. I do believe her lack of faith in the show, creatives, and herself - coupled with her crippling stage fright manifesting itself physically - are what led to Bette Davis abandoning MISS MOFFAT.

Thank you for making me aware of the article - exquisite production photos.

VIETgrlTerifa:

Tallulah always came off as the poor sport when it came to the Bette Davis thing - the moustache quip - sweeping up to Bette at a Hollywood party and saying something about having been better in the stage versions of some of Davis' most popular vehicles. I expect Tallu was down for a rumble but Bette just said, "I agree with you" and walked off.

As for Bette and Lucy's relationship, I think because they were the most legendary figures to come out of John Murray Anderson's school at that time, it just made better dramatic sense for Lucy to encounter Bette in the movie. Lucille didn't attend for that long and claimed that no one knew who she was but that everyone knew who Bette Davis was.

Interestingly, Bette did have a Lucy-related tantrum during the tour of the play THE WORLD OF CARL SANDBURG, in 1960. Basically she threw shade Lucy's way during a backstage visit by mentioning the fact Lucy had been a B-Picture actress before the radio and television fame. Lucy became immediately cold and spent the rest of the visit fixing her makeup.

Bette was a handful - I love her for many reasons and in spite of others :)




We can sandwich toast to orgasms and do our time in peace