Gwen Davis

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Gwen Davis (born May 11, 1936) is an American novelist, playwright, screenwriter, songwriter, journalist and poet.

Davis has written eighteen novels, including the sexy bestseller The Pretenders. She has also written about travel for the Wall Street Journal Europe, for online publications such as the Huffington Post, maintains a popular personal blog, Report from the Front,[1] and a blog reviewing Broadway theater productions, Will Blog for Broadway.[2]


Davis was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and grew up in New York City, in Manhattan. Her parents were divorced.[3] Her father, real estate developer Lew Davis, later served as mayor of Tucson, winning office in 1961.[4][5][6] Her parents' separation when she was five started a lifetime of gypsying.[5] She attended Bryn Mawr College.[5] In 1954, at the age of eighteen, she went to Paris to study music and sang in a nightclub there until she gave into her mother's pleas to return to the U.S.[3] She moved to California and continued singing, performing at the Purple Onion. She also obtained a master's degree in Creative Writing from Stanford University.

She was part of the Hollywood social scene from the late 1950s, coming into contact with a wide range of celebrities and befriending Dennis Hopper and many others.[5][6] Some of her experiences inspired her first novel, Naked in Babylon. She married businessman and producer Don Mitchell, with whom she had two children, a daughter and a son.[3] One of the Mitchells' mocking Academy Awards parties was the subject of a Time magazine article in 1970, which mentioned some of the celebrities—Shirley MacLaine, ZsaZsa Gabor, Lee Marvin and others—Davis and Mitchell counted among their friends.[7] She authored a famous movie, What a Way to Go, had a play on Broadway, The Best Laid Plans.[5]

Davis continues to write. She travels widely and has lived in Spain, Paris, Rome, London, Venice, New York and Hollywood.[5] She has returned from living in Bali, Indonesia and is living between New York, and Beverly Hills.

Touching lawsuits[edit]

One of her novels, Touching, published in 1971 was not a commercial success, but it resulted in a highly controversial lawsuit. Davis spent twenty hours at Sandstone, a Topanga Canyon therapy center run by E. Paul Bindrim, who was known as the "father of Nude Psychotherapy".[8] Bindrim, once nearly kicked out of the American Psychological Association, was known for holding what he called "nude marathons"—several clients were "placed in a warm pool for long sessions of touching and massaging, talking and sometimes shouting or acting out rage".[9]

Davis always claimed she had used her real-life experiences to inspire fiction, but that Bindrim was not the psychologist in her fictional story, and did not resemble him—her character was overweight, looked like Santa Claus, and had a Ph.D. By the time the case came to trial, Bindrim, who had been bald and clean-shaven and had only a master's degree, changed his appearance, grew a beard, and wound his hair around his head. Time had turned his hair white, so he looked like Santa Claus. He had obtained a Ph.D. from International College, upstairs from the Bruin theater in Westwood. International College was founded in 1970, and which at the time claimed it had "no classrooms, no lecture halls, no resident faculty." It is now out of business. These changes made him appear like the psychologist in the book. He won his suit against Davis and her publisher, Doubleday.[9] Doubleday then sued Davis, which raised the ire of many writers' organizations and won Davis the support of Kurt Vonnegut and others.[10]


  • Naked in Babylon, 1960
  • Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinah, 1962
  • The War Babies, 1966
  • Sweet William, 1967
  • The Pretenders, 1969
  • Touching, 1971
  • Kingdom Come, 1972
  • Changes, 1973
  • The Motherland, 1974
  • How to Survive in Suburbia When Your Hearts in the Himalayas, 1976
  • The Aristocrats, 1977
  • Ladies in Waiting, 1979
  • Marriage, 1981
  • Romance, 1983
  • Silk Lady, 1986
  • The Princess and the Pauper: An Erotic Fairy Tale, 1989
  • Jade, 1991
  • Happy at the Bel Air, 1996
  • West of Paradise, 1998
  • Lovesong, 2000
  • Scandal, 2011
  • The Daughter of God, 2012

Film and television writing credits[edit]

  • "Desperate Intruder," 1983 (TV)[11]
  • "Better Late Than Never," 1982 [11]
  • "What a Way to Go!," 1964[11]

Television and film roles and appearances[edit]

Davis appeared in Rich and Famous, 1981, as a party guest. She was interviewed many times on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1971-1972, and on David Frost and the Virginia Graham Show.[12]


  1. ^ Gwen Davis Blog, "Report From the Front"
  2. ^ Gwen Davis Blog, "Will Blog for Broadway"
  3. ^ a b c People, September 24, 1979 Vol. 12 No. 13,,,20074660,00.html
  4. ^ "Nation: Turnabout in Tucson, Time, Nov. 17, 1961,,9171,939302,00.html,
  5. ^ a b c d e f Gwen Davis's Blog, "Report From the Front"
  6. ^ a b In Memoriam: Remembering Dennis Hopper, Vanity Fair, June 1, 2010,
  7. ^ "Show Business: Mocking the Mockery," Time, Apr. 20, 1970,,9171,944053-2,00.html
  8. ^ "E. Paul Bindrim; Father of Nude Psychotherapy," obituary by Myrna Oliver in the Los Angeles Times, January 8, 1998,
  9. ^ a b "E. Paul Bindrim; Father of Nude Psychotherapy," obituary by Myrna Oliver in the Los Angeles Times, January 8, 1998
  10. ^ "Law: Writers' Rights and Wrongs, Time, Mar. 17, 1980,,9171,950396-1,00.html
  11. ^ a b c IMDB, Gwen Davis on IMDb
  12. ^ Gwen Davis on IMDb

External links[edit]