My Mother's Keeper
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|Author||B. D. Hyman|
|Publisher||William Morrow and Company|
My Mother's Keeper is a 1985 book by B. D. Hyman, the daughter of actress Bette Davis. The book portrays Davis as a bullying, alcoholic mother, allegations which have been overwhelmingly denounced as false.
My Mother's Keeper is often compared to the 1978 book Mommie Dearest by Christina Crawford, the daughter of Joan Crawford. Published after Crawford's book, My Mother's Keeper depicts Davis as a self-centered, emotionally manipulative alcoholic. Unlike Crawford, Hyman does not accuse her mother of any physical abuse. Indeed, she claims Davis was a battered wife and says Davis's actor husband, Gary Merrill, was a violent alcoholic. Unlike Crawford's book, which was published after the death of its subject, Hyman's book and a sequel titled Narrow Is the Way were published during Davis' lifetime, affording Davis an opportunity to respond to their allegations. Davis tried unsuccessfully to block publication of Hyman's books.
Publication of My Mother's Keeper roused support for Davis, who months earlier had experienced a mastectomy, four strokes and a broken hip. Whereas Crawford's book has drawn mixed denial and vindication, Hyman's account, which Hyman has maintained, has drawn virtually no support from Davis's associates. They have claimed that Davis spoiled Hyman and that Hyman exaggerated and wrote out of context.
Gary Merrill called Hyman's motivation "cruelty and greed". Davis's adopted son, Michael Merrill, severed contact with Hyman, as did Davis. Hyman was disinherited and Davis left her estate to Michael Merrill and her assistant, Kathryn Sermak. Davis's only public response to the allegations was an open letter in her book This 'N That (1987)