Judith Traherne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Judith Traherne
Ronald Reagan and Bette Davis (center, left to right) in the film's trailer
First appearance Dark Victory (1934, stage production)
Portrayed by Tallulah Bankhead
Bette Davis
Barbara Stanwyck
Sylvia Sidney
Susan Hayward
Elizabeth Montgomery
Gender Female
Spouse(s) Dr. Frederick Steele

Judith Traherne is a fictional character in Edmund Goulding's Dark Victory.


Judith Traherne is a hedonistic socialite who races horse, throws parties, and paints the town red. One day while riding the horses, she crashes into a fence and nearly dies. Later on when her personal secretary and best friend Ann (Geraldine Fitzgerald) asks her what happened, Judith proclaims that she saw double and was uncertain. She later seeks the medical advice of Dr. Frederick Steele (George Brent) and receives a harmful diagnosis. She has a brain tumor and must be operated on immediately.

After this she finds that the effort was worthless and that she only has months to live. She literally begins living life like every day is her last, and becomes romantically involved with Dr. Steele and marries him. They buy a little house in the country and begin a quaint life there. One day while Ann is visiting Judith's end arrives in the form of blindness and she must keep it a secret from her husband not wanting to destroy his feelings. She chooses to stay at home instead of going to New York City to partake in a horse racing competition and it is there that she dies peacefully in her glow of youth.


Judith Traherne was first portrayed on the New York stage by Tallulah Bankhead in 1934 at the Plymouth Theatre; Miss Bankhead played the part in approximately 51 productions.

Originally Dark Victory was to be made in 1935 with Greta Garbo for MGM Studios but that plan never materialized. Instead Warner Bros. bought the screen rights and in 1939 Bette Davis brought the character to screen life. Her endeavors won her a Best Actress Academy Award nomination and in her later years Miss Davis said that Dark Victory was her personal favorite of all the movies she made during her rich career.

On April 4, 1938 Dark Victory was adapted into a radio play for the Lux Radio Theatre starring Barbara Stanwyck as Judith and Melvyn Douglas as Frederick Steele.

In 1952 Dark Victory was made into a TV movie for Broadway Television Theatre starring Sylvia Sidney, Ian Keith, and Christopher Plummer.

In 1963, the film was remade as Stolen Hours with Susan Hayward and in 1976 it was remade into a NBC television movie under its original title starring Elizabeth Montgomery.