The Portraits

Staff member working in collections and putting a painting away

Bette Davis

Blackglama: What Becomes a Legend Most?
Richard Avedon, 15 May 1923 - 1 Oct 2004
Bette Davis, 5 Apr 1908 - 6 Oct 1989
Associated Institution
Photolithographic halftone poster
Sheet: 70.3 x 55.2cm (27 11/16 x 21 3/4")
Board: 75.6 x 60.3cm (29 3/4 x 23 3/4")
A to G Depth: 7/8"
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number
Exhibition Label
When the Great Lakes Mink Association asked New York advertiser Jane Trahey to rehabilitate the fur industry after a sharp decline in the 1960s, she conceived the famous Blackglama advertising campaign. Launched in 1968, the series of posters paired Richard Avedon's photographs of such mink-garbed celebrities as Bette Davis with the tantalizing caption "What becomes a Legend most?" No identifying name was necessary. Within two years, Blackglama was the most prestigious black ranch mink in the world, the fur industry was thriving, and stars clamored to become a "legend" and take home a mink coat. Bette Davis was in the initial series of posters. The agency representative remembered her nonstop smoking in the car en route to Avedon's studio. But she was a pro. "Ten cigarettes later," he recalled, "we had captured the legend."
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection