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.”