She was born Ruth Elizabeth Davis on April 5, 1908 in Lowell, Massachusetts. After her parents divorced, she and her sister were sent to boarding school. When she was eighteen, she saw Cue Entwistle in a play and decided to become an actor. Bette worked briefly as a chorus girl and appeared on Broadway in the play Broken Dishes. She made her film debut in the 1931 drama The Bad Sister. In 1932, she was signed by Warner Brothers and married musician Harmon Nelson. During their marriage, she had two miscarriages because she thought a baby would hurt her career. Her big break came when she was cast opposite Leslie Howard in the 1934 drama Of Human Bondage. The film was a hit and made her a star. Bette won an Oscar in 1935 for her performance in Dangerous. She won her second Oscar in 1938 for the Southern drama Jezebel. With hit films such as Now, Voyager, The Great Lie and Mr. Skeffington, she became one of the most successful actresses in Hollywood.
Her nickname was “The First Lady Of Film”. After divorcing Harmon, she was romanced by Howard Hughes and began an affair with married director William Wyler. He was her great love and their affair continued on and off for decades. Bette married innkeeper Arthur Farnsworth on December 31, 1940. Tragically, he died just three years later after an accidental fall. During World War II, she sold war bonds and volunteered at the Hollywood Canteen. She also became the first female president of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Bette married the artist William Grant Sherry in 1945 and they had a daughter named Barbara. At the age of 42, she was cast as Margo Channing in the drama All About Eve. The film became the biggest hit of her career. During filming, she fell in love with her co-star, Gary Merrill. She divorced her husband and married Gary in July 1950.