Few actors or actresses could dominate a film with raw talent as Bette Davis could, as the scene from Juarez (1939) amply demonstrates. Forgotten today is the fact that this actress of such rare ability was also an ardent patriot.
After America entered World War II, Davis organized the Hollywood Canteen that served millions of servicemen and women free of charge throughout the War. There soldiers could find stars like Bette Davis waiting on tables, serving food and chatting with them. It was an unforgettable experience and it reflected superbly on the patriotism of the Hollywood community during World War II. Davis also sold war bonds, in one memorable forty-eight hour period she sold $2,000,000.00 in bonds. When Hollywood mogul Jack Warner objected to her hard sell tactics in regard to her bond sales, she told him that the public loved her in films where she portrayed a b–ch, and thus they responded favorably to her peremptory demands that they buy bonds.
She performed for black troops, the only white participant in a troupe formed by black star Hattie McDaniel to perform for black servivemen.
Davis took pride for the rest of her life in her role in the war effort, and in 1980 she received the Distinguished Civilian Award Medal, the highest honor that the Pentagon can bestow on a civilian, for her work with the Hollywood canteen. For many veterans of World War II, that was her finest performance.