Marcie Bianco, in this piece for Quartz, points out something my co-author and I didn’t really comprehend as we wrote MISS D & ME: LIFE WITH THE INVINCIBLE BETTE DAVIS. She talks about how Bette is usually portrayed as something of a bitch and a drunk, a cold-hearted and calculating woman out for herself. In truth, in the decade my co-author Kathryn Sermak lived with Miss D, she rarely saw those qualities.
What Bianco points out is the difference between men, like Ryan Murphy the auteur of The Feud, telling Bette’s story and seeing her through a woman’s eyes. The Bette Davis on The Feud is haughty and disdainful, a woman irritated by a world that does not live up to her standards. While that was a quality of Miss D’s, it was not the dominant one and to see her that way is to miss her generosity and her humanity. Kathryn saw her as a stern judge, but one who always had her best interest guiding her reactions. In this way, Miss D was a great mentor who transformed Kathryn and offered her a world she never would have had access to on her own.
Thanks Marcie Bianco for this fresh take on Miss D!