LIFE MAGAZINE
STREEP VS. DAVIS
MERYL IS MAGIC, THE BEST IN THE BUSINESS, BUT MAYBE BETTE WAS BETTTER
Spring 1989
Perhaps nothing better illustrates the changes that 50 years have wrought in the motion picture industry than these two résumés:


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DATE OF BIRTH
Ruth Elizabeth Davis: April 5, 1908
Mary Louise Streep: June 22, 1949

FIRST MOTION PICTURE
Davis: (at 23) Bad Sister, 1931, as a good sister
Streep: (at 28) Julia, 1977, as a snotty acquaintance of Lillian Hellman's

PICTURES MADE
Davis: (1931-1939): 41
Streep: (1977-1989): 15

MOST COMMON ROLE
Davis: Working girl (stenographer in Parachute Jumper, 1933; waitress in Of Human Bondage, 1934; copywriter in Housewife, 1934; reporter in Front Page Woman, 1935; secretary in Special Agent, 1935; waitress in The Petrified Forest, 1936; clip-joint hostess in Marked Woman, 1937; secretary in That Certain Woman, 1937)
Streep: Victim (of a chauvinistic spouse in Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979; of a lover's hypocrisy in The Seduction of Joe Tynan, 1979; of Victorian priggishness in The French Lieutenant's Woman, 1981; of Nazis in Sophie's Choice, 1982; of radiation in Silkwood, 1983; of a philandering spouse in Heartburn, 1986; of alcoholism in Ironweed, 1987; of the media in A Cry in the Dark, 1988)

SIGNATURE SHTICK
Davis: Nicotine addiction  (puffing, for instance, nine cigarettes through Dark Victory)
Streep: Accents (Polish in Sophie's Choice, Danish in Out of Africa, Australian in A Cry in the Dark)

PRICE PER PICTURE
Davis: (1939): some $40,000 (1989 value: $365,000)
Streep: (1980): $2,000,000 to $3,000,000

BOX OFFICE FLOPS
Davis: The Golden Arrow, 1936; Satan Met a Lady, 1936
Streep : Falling in Love, 1984; Plenty, 1985; Heartburn, 1986; Ironweed, 1987

OSCAR NOMINATIONS
Davis: (through 1939): 3
Streep: (through 1989): 8

OSCARS
Davis: (through 1939): 2 (Dangerous, 1935; Jezebel, 1938)
Streep: (through 1988): 2 (Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979, Supporting; Sophie's Choice, 1982)

OSCAR DENIED
Davis: Not even nominated for Of Human Bondage 1934, when Claudette Colbert won for It Happened One Night
Streep : The French Lieutenant’s Woman, 1981, when Katharine Hepburn won her fourth for On Golden Pond.

END