Saturday, November 8, 2014

Bette Davis and her Eyes



Bette Davis Eyes came on the radio yesterday morning as I was driving to work, which started me wondering about the song and about Bette Davis herself.

Some bits of information on each . . . 

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The Song:

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The song was written in 1974 by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon, the latter recording it the same year as a R & B number with steel guitar and horns. In 1981 Kim Carnes recorded the number in a different style, sending it to No 1 in the Billboard chart, where it stayed for 9 consecutive weeks. It also hit No 1 in 31 countries and won a Grammy for Song of the Year.

Bette Davis and Kim Carnes

Bette Davis (1908-1989) was a high profile American actress well known for her acting ability, New England accent and her eyes:


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Confusion remains over whether the lyrics are "she knows just what it takes to make a crow blush" or "... pro blush". Jackie DeShannon sings "crow" in her version, and Kim Carnes recorded it as "pro". The phrase "could make a crow blush" is an early 20th-century Midwestern US colloquialism meaning that someone could be unsettled with little effort. It is believed that the arranger from Carnes' version was unfamiliar with the term and that the lyrics in Carnes’ version are in error.

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According to DeShannon, she got the idea for the song after watching the 1942 Bette Davis movie Now Voyager.

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After this song became a hit single, Bette Davis wrote letters to Kim Carnes and the songwriters to say she was a fan of the song and thank them for making her "a part of modern history." One of the reasons she loved the song was that her granddaughter thought her grandmother was "cool" for having a hit song written about her.

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Carnes' raspy vocals led many listeners to believe Rod Stewart was the vocalist.

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Kim Carnes was originally with The New Christy Minstrels but embarked on a solo career. Her distinctive gravelly voice came from removal of nodules from her vocal cords.

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The medical condition which produces “Bette Davis eyes” – eyes that are large, bulging and glistening – is known as Graves Disease, which can ultimately lead to blindness. Graves is a dangerous thyroid and immunological disorder which causes antibodies to form against eye tissue, causing the eyes to protrude and appear large. It is unknown whether Bette Davis suffered from Graves Disease but her appearance did display the symptoms of early Graves.



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Lyrics:

Her hair is Harlowe gold
Her lips sweet surprise
Her hands are never cold
She's got Bette Davis eyes
She'll turn her music on you
You won't have to think twice
She's pure as New York snow
She got Bette Davis eyes

And she'll tease you
She'll unease you
All the better just to please you
She's precocious and she knows just
What it takes to make a pro blush
She got Greta Garbo stand off sighs
She's got Bette Davis eyes

She'll let you take her home
It whets her appetite
She'll lay you on her throne
She got Bette Davis eyes
She'll take a tumble on you
Roll you like you were dice
Until you come out blue
She's got Bette Davis eyes

She'll expose you, when she snows you
Off your feet with the crumbs she throws you
She's ferocious and she knows just
What it takes to make a pro blush
All the boys think she's a spy
She's got Bette Davis eyes

And she'll tease you
She'll unease you
All the better just to please ya
She's precocious, and she knows just
What it takes to make a pro blush
All the boys think she's a spy
She's got Bette Davis eyes

She'll tease you
She'll unease you
Just to please ya
She's got Bette Davis eyes
She'll expose you, when she snows you
She knows ya
She's got Bette Davis eyes

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See and hear Kim Carnes performing the song:


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The woman . . . 

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Was one of the founders of the Hollywood Canteen, a club offering food, dancing and entertainment for servicemen, usually on their way overseas. Even though the majority of visitors were U.S servicemen, the canteen was open to servicemen of allied countries as well as women in all branches of service. A serviceman's ticket for admission was his uniform, and everything at the canteen was free of charge. The Canteen was operated and staffed completely by volunteers from the entertainment industry. By the time the Canteen opened its doors, over 3000 stars, players, directors, producers, grips, dancers, musicians, singers, writers, technicians, wardrobe attendants, hair stylists, agents, stand-ins, publicists, secretaries, and allied craftsmen of radio and screen had registered as volunteers. Stars volunteered to wait on tables, cook in the kitchen and clean up. One of the highlights for a serviceman was to dance with one of the many female celebrities volunteering at the Canteen

Bette Davis helps Spencer Tracy put on his apron

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he was elected as first female president of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in October 1941. She resigned less than two months later, publicly declaring herself too busy to fulfil her duties as president while angrily protesting in private that the Academy had wanted her to serve as a mere figurehead.

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Was the first person to accrue 10 Academy Award nominations for acting, and was the first woman to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute.

Spencer Tracy with Best Actor Oscar for Boys’ Town and Bette Davis with Best Actress Oscar for Jezebel

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When she first came to Hollywood as a contract player, Universal Pictures wanted to change her name to Bettina Dawes. She informed the studio that she refused to go through life with a name that sounded like "Between the Drawers".

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While touring the talk show circuit to promote "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?", she told one interviewer that when she and Joan Crawford were first suggested for the leads, Warner studio head Jack L. Warner replied: "I wouldn't give a plugged nickel for either of those two old broads." Recalling the story, Davis laughed at her own expense. The following day, she reportedly received a telegram from Crawford: "In future, please do not refer to me as an old broad!"

Joan Crawford, Jack Warner & Bette Davis

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Joan Crawford and Davis had feuded for years. During the making of "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?", Bette had a Coca-Cola machine installed on the set due to Crawford's affiliation with Pepsi (she was the widow of Pepsi's CEO). Joan got her revenge by putting weights in her pockets when Davis had to drag her across the floor during certain scenes.

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Some eye candy pics . . .








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. . . and in later years . . .

 

. . . and the last Bette Davis eyes pic:




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