My Mother's Keeper
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|Author||B. D. Hyman|
|Publisher||William Morrow and Company|
An exposé of sorts, 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, Hyman also paints a very unflattering portrait of her mother, depicting her as a self-centered, emotionally abusive alcoholic. Unlike Crawford, Hyman does not accuse her mother of any physical abuse. Indeed, she claims Davis was a battered woman and states that Davis' 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, thereby affording the actress an opportunity to respond to their allegations. Davis tried unsuccessfully to block publication of the books.
Publication of My Mother's Keeper roused support for Davis, who months earlier had experienced a mastectomy, crippling stroke, and broken hip. Whereas Christina Crawford's Mommie Dearest has drawn mixed denial and vindication, Hyman's account, which Hyman has maintained, has seemingly drawn no support from Davis's associates. They have claimed that Davis had spoiled Hyman, and that Hyman exaggerated and wrote out of context.
Denying Hyman's allegations, Gary Merrill called Hyman's motivation "cruelty and greed". Also asserting the falseness of Hyman's allegations, Davis's adopted son Michael Merrill—who is Hyman's adoptive brother—severed contact with Hyman, as did Davis, too, who also disinherited Hyman and left her estate to Michael and to her own assistant, Kathryn Sermak. Davis's only public response to the allegations was an open letter in Davis's own book This 'N That (1987)