Bette Davis Unwilling

Posted: November 07, 1989

Death did not still the pique Bette Davis felt over a nasty tell-all book by an "ungrateful" daughter.

She has reached out from the grave to snatch riches from the offending offspring.

The late and legendary actress, whose estate is worth close to $1 million,

cut her daughter, Barbara Davis Hyman, off without a dime in a will filed for probate in New York yesterday.

And that goes for her grandchildren, too.

Davis, who died of cancer at 81 in France on Oct. 6, had been estranged

from her daughter since Hyman's 1985 book, "My Mother's Keeper."

Hyman wrote that Davis had been "an abusive, domineering and hateful mother," and "a grotesque alcoholic" largely responsible for her own mistreatment by some of her three husbands.

Davis replied in a 1987 book, "This 'n' That," that she had been victimized by a "lying and ungrateful child." She also admitted she was ''pained" by the estrangement.

Davis' grandchildren, Hyman's two sons, Ashley and Justin, also received no bequest. The actress' lawyer, Harold Schiff, explained: "Unfortunately, their mother chose to have them follow her rather than their hearts.

"Down the road they'll be sorry," Schiff said. He said Davis was important in American cinema history, and "Twenty years from now they'll say, 'That was our grandmother; why didn't we know her?' "

Davis' adopted son, Michael Woodman Merrill of Chestnut Hill, Mass., receives about half the estate. His wife, Shu Shu Merrill, was left clothing.

Kathryn Sermack, a friend and secretary who lived with Davis in her Los Angeles apartment, also gets about half the estate.

The actress also failed to leave anything to her adopted daughter, Margot Mosher Merrill, of Geneva, N.Y. Margot was diagnosed as mentally retarded at age 3 and has been in special schools and institutions since.

Davis said in the 10-page will, dated Sept. 2, 1987: "I declare that I have intentionally and with full knowledge omitted to provide herein for my daughter, Margot, and my daughter, Barbara, and-or my grandsons, Ashley Hyman and Justin Hyman."

Michael and Margot Merrill were adopted when Davis was married to actor Gary Merrill.

Robin Brown of Westport, Conn., described by Schiff as "an old, old, old friend" of Davis from their childhood in Massachusetts, was bequeathed a painting titled "A Red Barn," a photo portrait of Davis, and a pearl and sapphire watch.

comments powered by Disqus