The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex is the story of Queen Elizabeth I (Bette Davis) and the Earl of Essex as told by Hollywood: it ends badly for him.
Bette was brilliant and Errol Flynn wandered around aimlessly looking for a swash to buckle.
Perc Westmore was the makeup artist.
Bette, then aged thirty-one, courageously agreed to have her appearance drastically transformed for the role of the older queen: her hairline was shaved back three inches; her eyebrows were completely shaved and replaced by thinly penciled lines; her lips were made to seem thinner and pouches were drawn under her eyes. A pasty white Elizabethan ‘beauty’ makeup finished the transformation.
Strangely, she looked far more like images of the older Queen Elizabeth than she did when she played her again some twenty-five years later in The Virgin Queen (1955) when her real age much more closely matched that of the Elizabeth she was portraying.