19 October 2017

Bette & Vivien

In 1964, when Joan Crawford needed to be replaced in Robert Aldrich's Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, several actresses were considered to play the part opposite Bette Davis, including Vivien Leigh. Vivien declined the role and reportedly said: "I could almost stand to look at Joan Crawford's face at 6am, but not Bette Davis." I don't know what had made Vivien say that (or if indeed she had) but at any rate, a decade earlier Vivien and then-husband Laurence Olivier had been hosts at their home Notley Abbey to a party of people that included Bette and then-husband Gary Merrill. Following the visit, Vivien received flowers from Bette accompanied by a lovely letter as seen below. Bette seemed quite sincere in her admiration for the Oliviers and how she enjoyed her visit with them. While I have tried to find information on how Vivien felt about Bette, apart from the above-mentioned quote, alas I could find nothing.

Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh and Kitty Carlisle visiting Danny Kaye backstage in London.

Via: divinevivienleigh.tumblr.com

Transcript: 

Dear Vivien,

It is seldom one sees talent combined with gracious living and gracious people.

Yesterday was magic for us- I was so stimulated by it all I had to take a sleeping pill! ☺-
Gary is writing later from the boat - to Larry.

In the meantime- please accept these flowers as our only possible token, at the moment, of our thanks.

One day maybe we can spend a day by the sea in Maine- with the hope you will enjoy it one quarter as much as we enjoyed yesterday.

Our love
Bette

P.S. I hope these will prove suitable for the benefit tonight.

P.P.S. Tell Danny to try and keep in step with you!☺[see photo below]

The benefit mentioned in the post-script of Bette's letter was probably the Sid Field tribute, held on 25 June 1951, where Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier and Danny Kaye were doing the Triplets act.

1 comment:

  1. Two of my favourite actresses ever, but had no clue they had ever met or were friends. Such a pleasant surprise! I would have never known if it weren't for your fabulous work, thank you!

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