The New York Times book review of “Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis” notes that Davis left Warner Bros. studio, where she made her most well-known movies, in 1949, with author Ed Sikov calling her at that point “free to be truly impossible.” In 2001, producer William Frye wrote an article for Vanity Fair, provocatively titled “The Devil In Miss Davis,” describing his experiences working with Davis. He recalled making the one-hour TV special “Split Second” with her in 1958, which from the very first day of filming was a series of challenges and arguments. Davis called Frye at five in the morning, an hour before she was due on set, and told him he’d have to get someone else to play her starring role, as she was sick. It turned out that she’d had a fight the night before with her husband, Gary Merrill, that had turned physical, resulting in her falling in their gravel driveway and scraping up one side of her face.
Frye convinced Davis to make “Split Second” anyway, promising to shoot around her face until it was healed, but at one point Davis still held up filming and made reshoots necessary when she insisted on filming a key scene with her back to the camera. Frye claims that when he confronted Davis about the scene later, she screamed at him, “I was acting before you were even thought of!”