The Irrepressible Bette Davis Recalls Her Good and Bad Days Kissing in the Movies

In 1971, a year before Last Tan­go in Paris was released in the US,  Bette Davis went on The Dick Cavett Show to dish on a career’s worth of onscreen kiss­es. Four decades on, when access to Net­flix is all that’s required to enjoy a visu­al inti­ma­cy bor­der­ing on the gyne­co­log­i­cal with Halle Berry or Maria Bel­lo, Davis still cap­ti­vates. Watch the above excerpt and don’t feel ashamed if you spend the rest of the day try­ing to guess the iden­ti­ty of the actor who—in Cavet­t’s words—“was so repul­sive that you just could­n’t stand to do it.”

Glenn Ford? Paul Hein­reid? Pop­u­lar opin­ion points to Edward G. Robin­son.

Who­ev­er he was, she cashed her pay­check and took one for the team, just as she did in 1930, when under con­tract to Uni­ver­sal, the self-described “Yan­kee-ist, mod­est vir­gin that ever walked the earth” was pressed into ser­vice as a “test girl.” This involved lying on a couch as a suc­ces­sion of 15 audi­tion­ing actors demon­strat­ed their pas­sion­ate kiss­ing abil­i­ties.

That ses­sion was filmed, but evi­dence has yet to sur­face on the Inter­net. Fans will just have to con­tent them­selves with sneak­ing onto a three-acre pri­vate arbore­tum in Mass­a­chu­setts for a glimpse of an Anna Col­man Ladd foun­tain fea­tur­ing four frol­ic­some nudes. Word has it a cer­tain mod­est vir­gin Yan­kee served as the mod­el for one of these fig­ures while still in her teens. Or so a leg­endary actress revealed to Play­boy at the age of 74.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Woody Allen on The Dick Cavett Show Cir­ca 1970

Dick Cavett’s Wide-Rang­ing TV Inter­view with Ing­mar Bergman and Lead Actress Bibi Ander­s­son (1971)

George Har­ri­son in the Spot­light: The Dick Cavett Show (1971)

Ayun Hal­l­i­day recalls Lau­ren Bacall shilling for a lip aug­men­ta­tion pro­ce­dure in No Touch Mon­key! And Oth­er Trav­el Lessons Learned Too Late. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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