What: Kathryn Sermak’s Miss D & Me Book Signing at Harvard Coop. We will be raffling off a Bette Davis moment, having a Q&A session, and have some of Miss D’s memorabilia on display. When: October 7, 2017. 6:00PM PT Where: Harvard Coop
Join East End Books Ptown as we welcome Katryn Sermak to Provincetown. THERE WILL BE A RAFFLE FOR A PERSONAL ITEM FROM THE PROPERTY OF BETTE DAVIS A FREE BETTE DAVIS BOOKPLATE WITH ALL BOOK PURCHASES A TABLE OF BETTE DAVIS MEMORABILIA Q & A […]
“Miss D & Me: Life with the Invincible Bette Davis” (Hachette Books), by Kathryn Sermak with Danelle Morton
Bette Davis battled studio bosses, husbands and rivals during her long acting career, establishing a tough persona in real life to match her enduring Hollywood image. She would need all that strength when she faced illness in her final years, knowing that she could achieve a dark victory by meeting death on her terms.
Her personal assistant during much of that time, Kathryn Sermak, depicts a lioness in winter in her memoir, “Miss D & Me: Life With the Invincible Bette Davis.” The actress, in her 70s, still showed some bite in dealing with family feuds and the demands of stardom even as she suffered from cancer and a stroke.
Davis (1908-89) found solace in activity, especially acting. “People will leave you,” she told Sermak more than once, “but your work will always stand by you.” She wrote another book and, amazingly, appeared on camera a few more times, most notably for “The Whales of August” in 1987.
Sermak had come into Davis’ life in 1979, a 22-year-old ingenue hired for the summer who was to learn how an aging movie star lived — this particular movie star, anyway. Davis accommodated her celebrity by pleasing fans and shrugging off criticism. When a tabloid featured an unflattering photograph with the headline “Bette Davis doesn’t give a damn how she looks!” the two-time Oscar winner advised her assistant, “Remember that it is always the best food that the birds pick at.”
Davis had her way of doing things. In a hotel room she would re-arrange the furniture and add personal photos to the decor. She spent hours trimming shrubbery around a rented house to make it just so. The mercurial Miss D also decided to play Pygmalion, grooming Sermak to become a young lady with the poise and discretion befitting her position.
That meant learning how to dress appropriately, project her voice, choose the right fork at meals and even change the spelling of her first name to make it more distinctive. Miss D’s criticism hurt at times, yet Sermak realized that graduating from the Bette Davis finishing school had its advantages for a woman of her generation. She also learned a lot about the movie business.
Life on Davis’ terms included her trademark cigarettes; it’s hard to imagine her without a curl of smoke in the air. During a fire drill at a hotel she sent Sermak back to their room for her cigarettes. They were bound to kill her one way or another. Davis continued smoking after her cancer surgery and stroke — and after she suffered second-degree burns from a smoldering mattress.
Poignant with touches of humor, “Miss D & Me” is a fitting fade-out for an actress who made it look easy to stay tough. Davis chose the epitaph for her tomb at Forest Lawn Hollywood: “She did it the hard way.” Yet Sermak’s book brings to mind a different Davis reflection that her fans will find more perceptive with each passing year: “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.”
Miss D & Me is released today but the first reviews are already in, and they’re raves: “I read this book in one day – a must read for all Bette Davis Fans” — Marcie Bianco, Vanity Fair. “A delightful new book by Davis’ one-time assistant, who recounts […]
What: Kathryn Sermak’s Miss D & Me Book Signing at Book Soup. We will be raffling off a Bette Davis moment, having a Q&A session, and have some of Miss D’s memorabilia on display. When: September 16, 2017. 3:00PM PT Where: Book Soup. 8818 Sunset Boulevard, […]
What: Kathryn Sermak’s Miss D & Me Book Signing at Book Passage. We will be raffling off a Bette Davis moment, having a Q&A session, and have some of Miss D’s memorabilia on display.
When: September 26, 2017. 6:00PM PT
Where: Book Passage. Ferry Building, #1, San Francisco, CA 94111
What: Kathryn Sermak’s Miss D & Me Book Signing at Barnes & Noble. We will be raffling off a Bette Davis moment, having a Q&A session, and have some of Miss D’s memorabilia on display. When: September 30, 2017. 2:00PM PT Where: Barnes & Noble. […]
What: Kathryn Sermak’s Miss D & Me Book Signing at Book Passage. We will be raffling off a Bette Davis moment, having a Q&A session, and have some of Miss D’s memorabilia on display. When: October 2, 2017. 7:00PM PT Where: Tattered Cover. Aspen Grove, 7301 […]
For ten years Kathryn Sermak was at Bette Davis’ side first as an employee and then as her closest friend, and in MISS D AND ME she at last 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 bright and willing assistant whom she trained never to miss a detail. Kathryn Sermak helped the two-time Oscar winner’s renaissance in her later years and in her recovery from her debilitating stroke. Kathryn also witnessed daughter Barbara Hyman’s humiliating public betrayal of her mother, and how that blow nearly killed Miss D.
The frame of this story is a four-day road trip Kathryn and Miss D took from Biarritz to Paris during which they disentangled their ferocious dependency. The book fulfills Kathryn’s promise to Miss D in the hours before she passed that when she told their story she would start in Biarritz. Although there have been dozens of biographies about Bette Davis, none has the fierce intimacy and true heart of MISS D AND ME.
On Sale September 12, 2017. Preorder your copy of MISS D & ME today!
The documentary, Bette Davis Bids Farewell, will air internationally on October 6, 2015. The compelling documentary pays homage to Bette Davis and tells the story of her last days spent at the San Sebastian Film Festival. The documentary will air in the following countries: MENA, […]