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BETTE DAVIS DIES AT 81 OF CANCER

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Bette Davis, the two-time Oscar winner whose toughness, huge eyes and haughty, cigarette-smoking style made her a movie industry legend, died Friday of cancer at age 81, her longtime lawyer Harold Schiff said Saturday.

Davis died in a Paris hospital after returning there from the San Sebastian film festival in Spain, Schiff said.Davis - who appeared in more than 80 films, including "Jezebel," "All About Eve" and "Of Human Bondage" - had suffered from cancer after undergoing a mastectomy about five years ago, Schiff said.

She is survived by two adopted children, Michael Merrill and Margot Merrill, and a daughter, Barbara Hyman.

Davis was nominated for Academy Awards 10 times and won an Emmy in 1979 for the television production "Strangers - The Story of a Mother and Daughter."

She won two Academy Awards for best actress, for "Dangerous" in 1935 and "Jezebel" in 1938.

Her screen heroines were often strong women - as uncompromising as the actress was off-screen.

She once suggested the lines for her own epitaph: "Bette Davis - She Did It the Hard Way." That included a 1985 comeback after suffering from breast cancer, a stroke and a broken hip in quick succession.

Schiff said Davis' breast cancer had begun to spread "about 1 1/2 years, one year ago. It just apparently spread all over her body."

Schiff, who said he had worked for Davis since 1962, said doctors knew that Davis' cancer was terminal but hadn't known when she would pass away.

"I'm just very sad," he said.

Her success story was one of Hollywood's most unlikely tales. Lacking the looks of a traditional Hollywood glamour girl, the skinny youngster with the huge eyes relied on her acting skill and took roles nobody else wanted, playing nasty women more often than nice ones.

"My entire career was never based on looks or glamour or sex," she once said. "It was an absolute miracle that people came to watch me act."

She sought happiness in marriage but after four husbands declared that she had failed and would never marry again. When she wrote her autobiography, she titled it "The Lonely Life."

She was born Ruth Elizabeth Davis on April 5, 1908, in Lowell, Mass., the elder of two daughters of Harlow and Ruth Favor Davis. Her parents were descended from early New England settlers - Pilgrims and Huguenots - and Davis was always proud of her heritage.

Davis' parents separated when she was 7, and through her childhood she lived alternately with her mother and in boarding schools. As a teenager she showed talent in school theatrics and decided to become an actress.

She won a scholarship to study with drama coach John Murray Anderson, ushered at New England theaters in the summer and won small roles in stock company shows before making her New York stage debut in "The Earth Between" in the 1920s.

During her first Broadway hit, "Broken Dishes," Davis was given a screen test by movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn. Unimpressed, he scolded a talent scout for wasting his time.

However, her stage reviews caught the attention of Universal Pictures, which offered a three-month contract and brought her to California in 1930.

Her film debut came the next year in "Bad Sister." Five other pictures followed.

When the studio dropped her contract, Warner Bros. picked it up and in 1932 gave her a co-starring role as an ingenue in "The Man Who Played God."

It was the beginning of her 18-year association with Warner's, a sometimes stormy period in which Davis was known for her famous quarrels with studio chief Jack Warner. Yet when Warner was asked in later years to define the term "movie star," he said simply, "Bette Davis."

In 1934, Davis was loaned to RKO for the role that would establish her reputation - the sullen heroine Mildred in "Of Human Bondage."

*****

In the marquee lights

Here is a list of feature films starring Bette Davis.

1. "Bad Sister" 1931.

2. "Seed" 1931.

3. "Waterloo Bridge" 1931.

4. "Way Back Home" 1932.

5. "The Menace" 1932.

6. "Hell's House" 1932.

7. "The Man Who Played God" 1932.

8. "So Big" 1932.

9. "The Rich Are Always With Us" 1932.

10. "The Dark House" 1932.

11. "Cabin in the Cotton" 1932.

12. "Three on a Match" 1932.

13. "20,000 Years in Sing Sing" 1932.

14. "Parachute Jumper" 1933.

15. "The Working Man" 1933.

16. "Ex-Lady" 1933.

17. "Bureau of Missing Persons" 1933.

18. "Fashions of 1934" 1933.

19. "The Big Shakedown" 1934.

20. "Jimmy the Gent" 1934.

21. "Fog Over Frisco" 1934.

22. "Of Human Bondage" 1934.

23. "Housewife" 1934.

24. "Bordertown" 1934.

25. "The Girl From Tenth Avenue" 1935.

26. "Front Page Woman" 1935.

27. "Special Agent" 1935.

28. "Dangerous" 1935.

29. "The Petrified Forest" 1936.

30. "The Golden Arrow" 1936.

31. "Satan Met a Lady" 1936.

32. "Marked Woman" 1937.

33. "Kid Galahad" 1937.

34. "That Certain Woman" 1937.

35. "It's Love I'm After" 1937.

36. "Jezebel" 1938.

37. "The Sisters" 1938.

38. "Dark Victory" 1939.

39. "Juarez" 1939.

40. "The Old Maid" 1939.

41. "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" 1939.

42. "All This and Heaven Too" 1940.

43. "The Letter" 1940.

44. "The Great Lie" 1941.

45. "The Bride Came C.O.D." 1941.

46. "The Little Foxes" 1941.

47. "The Man Who Came to Dinner" 1941.

48. "In This Our Life" 1942.

49. "Now, Voyager" 1942.

50. "Watch on the Rhine" 1943.

51. "Thank Your Lucky Stars" 1943.

52. "Old Acquaintance" 1943.

53. "Mr. Skeffington" 1944.

54. "Hollywood Canteen" 1944.

55. "The Corn Is Green" 1945.

56. "A Stolen Life" 1946.

57. "Deception" 1946.

58. "Winter Meeting" 1948.

59. "June Bride" 1948.

60. "Beyond the Forest" 1949.

61. "All About Eve" 1950.

62. "Payment on Demand" 1951.

63. "Another Man's Poison" 1952.

64. "Phone Call From a Stranger" 1952.

65. "The Star" 1952.

66. "The Virgin Queen" 1955.

67. "Storm Center" 1956.

68. "The Catered Affair" 1956.

69. "John Paul Jones" 1959.

70. "The Scapegoat" 1959.

71. "Pocketful of Miracles" 1961.

72. "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" 1962.

73. "Dead Ringer" 1964.

74. "The Empty Canvas" 1964.

75. "Where Love Has Gone" 1964.

76. "Hush . . . Hush, Sweet Charlotte" 1964.

77. "The Nanny" 1965.

78. "The Anniversary" 1968.

79. "Connecting Rooms" 1971.

80. "Bunny O'Hare" 1971.

81. "The Game" 1972.

82. "Burnt Offerings" 1976.

83. "Death on the Nile" 1978.

84. "Return From Witch Mountain" 1978.

85. "Watcher in the Woods" 1980.

86. "Whales of August," 1986.