cover image Bette Davis

Bette Davis

Laura Moser. Haus Pub., $15.95 (180pp) ISBN 978-1-904341-48-2

This slim summary of the Oscar-winning actress's tempestuous life is the newest volume in the UK publisher's Life & Times series of compact biographies of notable historical figures. Davis (1908-89) certainly led a fascinating life, with a 50-plus year career filled with awards, comebacks, more than 100 movies and a personal life littered with feuds, self-destructive behavior and four failed marriages. But, with more than 10 full-length biographies in print (along with two autobiographies and a tell-all by her daughter), there really isn't anything new to say. Moser's chief task is to cut and paste attributed quotes from previous biographies (she chastises James Spada's 1993 bio More Than a Woman for its ""tabloid prose and sizzling invented dialogue"" but she quotes from it more than any other source). A 12-page chronology at the book's end wastes half its space on things that have nothing to do with Davis, while a ""select filmography"" details only 40 films. Davis once said of herself, ""I'm just too much."" Unfortunately, this condensation is just too little. Photos.