WCW: Bette Davis


She ruled as queens and empresses, she was the tempestuous heart of love triangles, and she didn’t balk at playing an older character or a nasty woman — that’s right, she’s Bette Davis, and her historical costume movie roles are legendary. With her trademark pencil-thin eyebrows and those piercing eyes, Davis made her mark on screen.



Julie Marsden in Jezebel (1938)

Bette Davis, Jezebel (1938)

Davis’ black & white alternative to Gone With the Wind.


Louise Elliott in The Sisters (1938)

Bette Davis, The Sisters (1938)

One of a trio of sisters in 1900s Montana.


Carlota of Mexico in Juarez (1939)

Bette Davis, Juarez (1939)

The Austrian Empress of Mexico, crowned as part of Napoleon III’s attempt to invade the country.


Charlotte Lovell in The Old Maid (1939)

Bette Davis, The Old Maid (1939)

This Civil War-era romance doesn’t go well (hence the movie title).


Queen Elizabeth in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Regal as QEI.


Henriette Deluzy-Desportes in All This, and Heaven Too (1940)

All This, and Heaven Too (1940)

1840s governess, 1940s eyebrows.


Regina Giddens in The Little Foxes (1941)

Bette Davis, The Little Foxes (1941)

So very foxy.


Fanny Trellis Skeffington in Mr. Skeffington (1944)

Mr. Skeffington (1944)

She’s a fabulous portrait of herself.


Miss Lilly Moffat in The Corn Is Green (1945)

Bette Davis, The Corn Is Green (1945)

Looking older than her years for a serious role.


Queen Elizabeth I in The Virgin Queen (1955)

Bette Davis, The Virgin Queen (1955)

Again as QEI, just as magnificent.


Empress Catherine the Great in John Paul Jones (1959)

Bette Davis, John Paul Jones (1959)

Forever ruling.


Mrs. Van Schuyler in Death on the Nile (1987)

Bette Davis, Death on the Nile (1987)

Totally glam 1930s for this Poirot murder-mystery.


What’s your favorite Bette Davis historical costume role?



About the author

Trystan L. Bass

Twitter Facebook Website

A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

5 Responses

  1. Susan Pola

    I’m with MoHub on this. QEI. Although her Julie in Jezebel was terrific and Oscar winning and I prefer it over GWTW, it and the Old Maid are my seconds. But IMHO you can’t go wrong with MS Davis.
    Her ‘modern’ film favourites of mine are Now Voyager and All About Eve.

  2. Valéria Fernandes Da Silva

    I love Jezebel, so it is may top favorite, but she was great in The Old Maid too and in all the other holes. Ah, and just a correction, Carlota was married to as Austrian prince, but she was from Belgium.

  3. ladylavinia1932

    Oh Lord! There is so much to choose from! I’ll have to go with the following:

    Julie Marsden in Jezebel

    Queen Elizabeth in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex

    Henriette Deluzy-Desportes in All This, and Heaven Too

    Regina Giddens in The Little Foxes

    Mrs. Van Schuyler in Death on the Nile