Bette Davis’ Last Cigarette
In the late ’80’s, photographer Jim Herrington captured Bette Davis’ cigarette upon a visit to her Los Angeles apartment. The following is a piece written by Herrington capturing that experience.
Upon entering Bette Davis’ West Hollywood apartment, even the casual observer couldn’t help but notice the tiny white porcelain vases that seem to be on every horizontal surface, each sprouting a floret of cigarettes. Vantage filters – king size. Ms. Davis, 80 at the time, was as thin as a thread when I encountered her less than a year before she died, though impeccably dressed and with eyelids troweled peacock blue. She had already battled cancer and a stroke and I attribute to those unfortunate circumstances why she kept staring at me and crisply barking, “Who’s the young lady I haven’t met yet?”, which, like most of her verbal expulsions, was accompanied by a sharply exhaled column of smoke that seemed to be directed at some unseen evil force. I was a photo-assistant on this job, and after we had finished and Ms. Davis had retired to the confines of her sprawling apartment, we packed up and were leaving when I saw her freshly snubbed Vantage resting in the ashtray. I flicked it into a Kodak film box where it resided for 12 years until I pulled it out one day and took the photograph that you see here.