All About Eve

Bette Davis is one tough broad. We all know that. Although she is one of my favorite actresses, it seems she was not overly liked in Hollywood among her peers. One of my favorite movies of hers is “All About Eve.” My Marilyn even has a small part in this one! Here are some behind the scenes facts about the film. Check it out if you’ve never seen it!

–Claudette Colbert was originally cast as Margo Channing, but suffered a ruptured disc during filming on Three Came Home (1950) and had to withdraw. Bette Davis stepped into the role, even though 20th Century-Fox studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck and Davis couldn’t stand each other, going back to when Davis walked out from her post as president of the Motion Picture Academy in 1941.

–Although he received screen credit, actor Eddie Fisher’s scene was cut before the film’s release.

–Darryl F. Zanuck envisioned Marlene Dietrich as Margo Channing, Jeanne Crain as Eve Harrington, and José Ferrer as Addison DeWitt. Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s early choices for the Margo Channing role were Claudette Colbert and Gertrude Lawrence. When Crain became pregnant, Mankiewicz’s final choice for the Eve Harrington part was Anne Baxter because she displayed a “bitch virtuosity” that he believed Crain could not provide. Other actresses were also named and considered for the part of Margo Channing, among them Tallulah Bankhead and Susan Hayward.

–Donna Reed was also considered for the part of Eve Harrington.

–Bette Davis’ marriage to William Grant Sherry was in the throes of breaking up while she was making the film. Her raspy voice in the film is largely due to the fact that she burst a blood vessel in her throat from screaming at her soon-to-be-ex-husband during one of their many rows. Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz liked the croaky quality so he didn’t have Davis change it.

–Zsa Zsa Gabor kept arriving on the set because she was jealous of her husband George Sanders in his scenes with the young blonde ingénue Marilyn Monroe.

–Ingrid Bergman was another actress considered for the part of Margo Channing but she had just fallen in love with Italian director Roberto Rossellini and didn’t want to leave Italy.

–Holds the record for the film with the greatest number of female acting Oscar nominations.

–In real life, Bette Davis had just turned 42 as she undertook the role of Margo Channing, and Anne Baxter, still an up-and-comer, not only wowed audiences with her performance, but successfully pressured the powers that be to get her nominated for an Oscar in the Best Actress category rather than Best Supporting Actress. This is thought to have split the vote between herself and Davis. The winner for the 1950 Best Actress was Judy Holliday for her noticeable turn in Born Yesterday (1950), so Baxter’s actions in effect blocked Davis’ chances for the win.

–The theatre scenes in the film were shot at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre at 445 Geary Street a couple of blocks from Union Square.

–According to the casting director’s list, future White House occupants Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis were considered for the roles of Bill Sampson and Eve Harrington.

–Bette Davis admitted later on that Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s casting her in this movie saved her career from oblivion after a series of unsuccessful movies. She said in a 1983 interview, “He resurrected me from the dead.”

–Bette Davis fell in love with her co-star Gary Merrill during the shoot of this movie and the two married in July 1950 a few weeks after filming was completed.

–In the theatre scene, Bette Davis mentions playwright Arthur Miller. Marilyn Monroe, who had one of her first roles in this film, later married Miller.

–Co-star Celeste Holm spoke about her experience with Bette Davis on the first day of shooting: “I walked onto the set . . . on the first day and said, ‘Good morning,’ and do you know her reply? She said, ‘Oh shit, good manners.’ I never spoke to her again – ever.”

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Join the Discussion!

  1. I too want to attend the Copacabana School of Acting!

    “Oh waiter!”
    “Darling, he’s not a waiter, he’s a butler.”
    “Well, I couldn’t yell butler now could I! What if someones name is butler?”

  2. I love Bette Davis. I love watching her movies when it’s raining outside – it just adds to the atmosphere of some of her more sombre roles. These facts are fascinating. Thanks.

  3. One of my favorite old films! Also my favorite Bette Davis movie of all. Thanks for all the fun facts, and have a wonderful weekend Kori!
    Take care,

  4. I love that movie. soo glad none of those other actresses got the role. Bette Davis was channing, seemed like she barely had to act.;)

  5. I love the movies from this era and the fashions and hairdos. How do you know so many facts about the old stars? It’s fascinating! Bette Davis always creeped me out!

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you’ll come back soon.

  6. I tracked you down from your award that my daughter gave me. Your blog brings back something I forgot I had. My aunt use to work for Malco theaters in Memphis and she gave me lots of black and white glossies. I need to find them and make me a room for them! I will be stopping back by.

  7. As a kid, I used to be afraid of her..Perhaps it was her character in “What ever happened to Baby Jane”…that movie freaked me out.


  8. This is one of our favorite movies too; I love the fact that Davis wasn’t afraid to take on a role that pointed out the fact that she was aging. I enjoyed reading the behind the scenes stuff!

  9. Another great post – I don’t think I have ever seen this movie tho – must see if the local video library has a copy – would love to see Marilyn in this flick :D

  10. thank you so much for posting all of this — bette davis is my favourite actress of all time. “she’s the nicest goddamn dame you’ll ever meet.” :)

    do you know the story about bette davis and the swear jar? evidently, loretta young, a really treacly goody-goody had a swear jar on a movie set and every time someone said “damn” or “hell” or whatever, she made them put in a nickle. as you can imagine, bette davis had to put in a lot of loose change. one day, she got so fed up with loretta young and her sweetness and light that she said:


  11. One of my very very favourites!Fantastic acting-unbelievably high standard really…you’re just NOT aware that there is acting going on as you’re SO enthralled in the plot. LOVE this movie & I never get fed up watching it! Great post Kori.

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