When Bette Davis appeared on an 11/16/62 Jack Paar Program (as seen entirely in THE JACK PAAR COLLECTION), she spoke briefly of her latest film, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962). Then Jack showed the dustjacketed cover of this autobiography and inquired about an incident where Davis had been hospitalized for osteomyelitis of the jaw. She was released after six weeks of what the actress described as "sheer hell." That same day, Walter Winchell erringly reported that Davs had jaw cancer, potentially runious gossip, for studios won't risk hiring an actor who may not be able to complete a picture.
Some serious chat about the harmful effects of gossip columnists followed, then, switching gears, the star showed a great capacity to laugh at herself by teaching Jack, Jonathan Winters and Gisele MacKenzie how to smoke a KENT (Paar's sponsor) like Bette Davis does in THE LETTER (puffpuffpuffpuff... "Petah!").
The bulk of THE LONELY LIFE as expected is Bette, probably speaking on tape, in plain launguage. Unfortunately, significant passages are by her unnamed but not invisible ghost writer, who philosophizes in pedantic polysyllabics on a number of unrelated subjects such as the Cold War, African independence, the Moon Race and British actors. Appropriately, Bette's Hollywood career and family life are her main concerns. She's respectful of nearly everyone mentioned, never damns an enemy beyond a mention of animosity. This is definitely not a tell-all exercise in revenge, not by a long shot.
Her early Hollywood struggles to escape typecasting as a sexless kid sister lasted four long years. Certain directors, like Michael Curtiz, simply did not want Bette Davis in their movies, thought her devoid of talent and allure. Others were kinder and helped Bette climb the ladder of fame, if slowly. Her big break (and a first Oscar nomination) came when the actress convinced Warner's to loan her to RKO for OF HUMAN BONDAGE (1934). According to Miss Davis, her own studio actually lobbied AGAINST her winning the statuette, but the ploy backfired. Negative publicity about Warner's devious actions reinforced her celebrity status. Even the doggy roles they gave her for a while longer couldn't hold this winner back.
The subsequent parts of the story that are in Bette's voice make for a fascinating read. The narrative ends with her mom's illness and demise. The book is in fact dedicated to the memory of Ruth Davis with a repro of a note to "Ruthie" signed "Pinky." Two photo sections are included, a total of 76 quite rare snapshots. Highly recommended to all fans of classic era Hollywood.