Miss D & Me: Life with the Invincible Bette Davis

There are more than a dozen full-length biographies devoted to volatile two-time Oscar-winning actress Bette Davis (1908-1989), but none offer the up-close and personal view of Davis's final decade as Kathryn Sermak's engaging, outrageous and heartfelt memoir Miss D & Me. Davis hired the 23-year-old Sermak as her personal assistant in 1979, and immediately lived up to her difficult reputation. She started retraining Sermak on how to walk, talk, eat, dress and act in public. Davis even convinced her to change the spelling of her name from Catherine to Kathryn. On their first trip abroad, fire alarms forced the two to evacuate their hotel, but Davis insisted that Sermak run back in--not to save her family photos or passport, but her cigarettes.

After a rocky start, the two developed a friendship. Sermak's devotion helped Davis through some devastating health crises. In 1983, Davis's breast cancer diagnosis resulted in a mastectomy. Nine days later, Davis suffered a major stroke, paralyzing her left side and slurring her speech. Although Sermak describes Davis as "a fighter, a champion, and a bon vivant--and always a survivor," the road back from her debilitating stroke was long and hard fought. "No heartache or tragedy... had ever thrown her into such hopelessness," writes Sermak. Then came the betrayal of Davis's daughter's scathing tell-all book.

Sermak's affectionate, intimate and clear-eyed memoir lucidly explores Davis's conflicting actions and emotions as an actress who often put work above relationships--to her personal detriment. Film buffs will appreciate discovering new shadings to the movie icon. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

Powered by: Xtenit