Scottsdale, Arizona (October 15, 2008) -– The world will celebrate the life of one of America’s iconic film stars when a stamp honoring actress Bette Davis is dedicated and a car once owned by her is sold at No Reserve during the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company’s inaugural event in Las Vegas. A stamp honoring the centennial of her birth will be commemorated by the U.S. Postal Service tomorrow, during a ceremony at Barrett-Jackson, a day before a Mustang that Ms. Davis originally owned is sold. The celebration will be part of the inaugural Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas event from Oct. 16-18 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. SPEED TV will cover the auction live on high-definition TV.
“Just like Bette Davis, Barrett-Jackson automotive lifestyle events have become part of the fabric of American culture,” said Craig Jackson, Chairman/CEO of Barrett-Jackson. “And she shared our passion for Detroit’s finest cars. Thus, it is fitting that her new stamp be dedicated at our event on the same week that someone will become the new owner of the Ford Mustang that she loved so much.”
Ms. Davis personally called a Los Angeles area Ford dealership to order a 1980 Ford Mustang (Lot #460) for her 72nd birthday. She specified that the car be black with a red interior, which was her signature color. Dubbed “Black Beauty” by Ms. Davis, the Mustang has been on display at the Petersen Automotive museum for seven years and includes sales receipts, correspondence, owner I.D. cards and original license plates. The car was part of Ms. Davis’ estate, which is overseen by Michael Merrill, Bette’s son, and Kathryn Sermak, her longtime personal assistant and friend. In her memory, they created The Bette Davis Foundation, which provides financial assistance to promising young actors (www.bettedavis.com).
Tomorrow, the U.S. Postal Service will celebrate the centennial year of Ms. Davis birth, with her very own stamp. A special dedication ceremony will be held at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino at 10 a.m., with remarks by Ms. Sermak and Las Vegas Postmaster Yul Melonson. Special First-Day Stamp collectibles will also be available throughout the day.
“Bette Davis was one of the brightest lights of Hollywood,” Postmaster Melonson said. “We are honored to celebrate the life and legacy of one of America’s finest actresses through our stamp program.”
Artist Michael Deas based his painting for the stamp on a black-and-white still of Bette Davis made during the filming of “All About Eve” in which Davis brilliantly portrayed Margo Channing. It is the 14th stamp issued in the Legends of Hollywood Stamp Series. Past stamp subjects include James Cagney, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and others.
Often referred to as “The First Lady of the American Screen,” Bette Davis redefined the screen heroine. With a career total of more than 100 films, she earned a reputation as an actress who could play a variety of very strong and complex roles. Over a career spanning six decades, few in the history of film rival the Academy Award winner’s longevity and appeal.
In 1977, she was the first woman to be honored with the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She was also the first woman to be president of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences. At the age of 75, Bette had a mastectomy due to breast cancer; nine days later, she suffered a stroke. Despite her failing health, she continued to act until her death. Bette passed away Oct. 6, 1989.
“Bette Davis set a new precedent for women,” noted Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson. “She was a liberated woman in an industry dominated by men. She knew exactly what she wanted and celebrated her birthday by ordering this special Mustang to her liking. We’re proud to join forces with the USPS to honor Ms. Davis, a true legend of American cinema.”