Filmed in 1971, Bette Davis’ THIS IS YOUR LIFE suffered from one major fault – it was far too short! The format should surely have been an hour at least, but it never was.
A 25 minute running time meant Bette’s life and career was literally run through. When asked by Ralph Edwards if Bette was difficult, WILLIAM WYLER merely got to say “No. Easy? No! She was demanding of everyone, mostly of herself.”
Bette made a point of saying Wyler was the best director she ever had. She said, “This is my all time hero as a director.”
The same with OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND who had flown in from Paris.
A few words about being intimidated by Bette initially and that was Olivia’s contribution.
What a waste.
Paul Henreid repeats the famous cigarette-lighting scene from Now Voyager. He mentions that Bette gave him the cigarette case he used after they made Deception.
That’s about the extent of his contribution to the program.
Also interviewed very briefly were Bette’s stand-in, Sally Sage and Victor Buono and Bette’s sister Bobbie .
Almost the highlight of the program was the appearance of impersonator Barbara Heller who did an amazing Bette Davis.
Bette said, “She’s marvellous!”
There was no mention of Bette’s children.
Bette was at a meeting with Robert Wagner and others, discussing their forthcoming film Madame Sin when Ralph Edwards surprised her.
We look back now with regret that more advantage wasn’t taken of the opportunity to have people like William Wyler talk more about their films. But I guess This Is Your Life wasn’t the format for any in depth discussion.