For ten years Kathryn Sermak was at Bette Davis's side--first as an employee, and then as her closest friend--and in Miss D and Me she tells the story of the great star's harrowing but inspiring final years, a story fans have been waiting decades to hear.
Miss D and Me is a story of two powerful women, one at the end of her life and the other at the beginning. As Bette Davis aged she was looking for an assistant, but she found something more than that in Kathryn: a loyal and loving buddy, a co-conspirator in her jokes and schemes, and a competent assistant whom she trained never to miss a detail. But Miss D had strict rules for Kathryn about everything from how to eat a salad to how to wear her hair...even the spelling of Kathryn's name was changed (adding the "y") per Miss D's request. Throughout their time together, the two grew incredibly close, and Kathryn had a front-row seat to the larger-than-life Davis's career renaissance in her later years, as well as to the humiliating public betrayal that nearly killed Miss D.
The frame of this story is a four-day road trip Kathryn and Davis took from Biarritz to Paris, during which they disentangled their ferocious dependency. Miss D and Me is a window into the world of the unique and formidable Bette Davis, told by the person who perhaps knew her best of all.
The Sexy Nerd ‘Revue’
I was never fortunate to meet Miss Davis in person, but I’ve seen quite a few of her films, and after having read this beautiful story by Kathryn Sermak, I feel as though I got to know the real legend, Bette Davis. Oh my, this book was amazing!
It was so refreshing to read how Miss D came to hire Kathryn. And even though Kathryn was a bit green when she was first hired, Miss D, in her typical fashion, groomed and guided Kathryn to become the woman she is. Their working arrangement was a bit rocky in the beginning, as Miss Davis could be overly dramatic and quite overbearing. It took all Kathryn had to get to learn Miss Davis. What people often mistake when they see their favorite Hollywood actors is that to work for them is quite different than what you see up on screen. However, that wasn’t Kathryn’s problem. Miss Davis began molding Kathryn from an era in which she came up. I believe Miss Davis was seventy-three when she began working for her. Kathryn was in her early twenties. There was a huge age difference, but the lessons that Miss Davis taught her were golden.
I loved the stories she recounted about their trips to Paris and London, while Miss Davis was working on films. The arguments and disagreements the two of them had. But what really stood out for me was the love the two of them shared for one another. I remember when Bede Hyman, Miss Davis’s daughter, wrote a book about her famous mother. I’m glad I never read her book because this book is the true impression of what I believed to be Bette Davis. In fact, if you ask me, I feel Kathryn was more of a real daughter to Miss Davis than Bede. I can’t begin to imagine how painful it must have been for Miss Davis to read the words her daughter had to say about her. After you read about Miss Davis’s learning of her daughter’s ultimate betrayal, you’ll feel the pain. I know I certainly did. Not to mention, her daughter didn’t even give the respect to her mother to tell her that she wrote it. Miss Davis had to learn this through her closest confidantes, Kathryn, and Harold.
I love memoirs and this was well written and so heartfelt. What I truly loved about the way Kathryn attacked this book is that she told what needed to be said instead of going for the jugular vein and sucking all the dollars she could to tell a story about Bette Davis. This story felt honest and sincere and I’m positive Miss Davis would be proud of Kathryn’s real words. At least Kathryn received Miss Davis’s blessing on writing her story, which is more than I can say for how her own daughter treated her before she passed. But, I’ll say this, at least she betrayed her mother while she was here to see it, unlike Miss Davis’s archrival, Joan Crawford’s daughter did with Mommie Dearest. I’m not saying that parents are perfect because they aren’t, but to deliberately write untruths about your famous mother to make money off those lies and to try and destroy her reputation is downright cruel and vicious. Thank you, Kathryn, for setting the record straight. I truly believed her words. It touched me in ways I will never forget. The ending was hard for me to read. I kept thinking about my own mother and how I’ll one day have to deal with her death. My God, that was so touching the way Kathryn handled Miss D’s death. I sat and cried my heart out trying to read the words through my tear-filled eyes. Wow, what an incredible woman Bette Davis was.
The Sexy Nerd gives Miss D and Me five star-studded Oscars. What an award-winning performance. I absolutely fell in love with this story. If you’re a memoir fan, I highly recommend you read this. You will not be able to put this book down. I hated when I had to, but I quickly picked it up as soon as I was done with work. Kathryn, what an incredible life you’ve led, and you can rest easy knowing you did right by a legendary woman and actress, Miss Bette Davis. Thank you for sharing your story with us!