Bette Davis and Her Top-loading Dishwasher

She even made loading the doing the dishes look elegant!

Bette Davis is known to us today for her mesmerizing blue eyes and for the willful women she played on the big screen. Some of her best films include Dangerous (1935), Now, Voyager (1942), All About Eve (1950), and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). But, in the early 1930s she was still an unknown, hired to appear in lesser roles and B-movies. As was all the rage back then she wore her hair (bleach blonde) in tight waves close to her head- a far cry from the lustrous brown locks and femme fatale look she would later become famous for.

Bette Davis early 1930s promo photo
Via: Warner Bros/Wiki Commons

It was during this early stage of her career that she appeared in a promo for GE praising their newest dishwasher. This short, 13 minute film was called Just Around the Corner (1933) and was a Warner Bros picture. This film highlighted how electrical appliances and lighting made living in the country nearly as easy as living in the city.

These early models of dishwasher were top-loading which I’m not sure would go over as well today. Back then these machines weren’t as common as they are these days. It’s a wonder that they were promoting such a device considering it was the Great Depression and money was tight for just about everyone.

early dishwasher machine in kitchen
Via: Theodor Horydczak/Library of Congress

Back then these top-loaders were fitted into the countertop using the same stainless steel surrounds that sinks had. This meant a visually seamless look and easy cleaning.

In the video Davis loads the machine, all the while explaining to her incredulous friend (actress Ruth Donnelly) that it “washes, rinses, and polishes the dishes and silverware”. When the wash cycle is over she explains that it even dries the dishes, too! With Davis explaining the operation in her apron it’s easy to imagine her as a housewife instead of the glamorous movie star she became.

See Bette Davis in this 1930s promo in the video below. What do you think? Would you use a top-loading dishwasher today?

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