Bette Davis' Cut Daughters Out of WillSAMUEL MAULL , Associated Press
Nov. 7, 1989 5:27 AM ET
NEW YORK (AP) _ Actress Bette Davis left most of her nearly $1 million estate to her son and a close friend but nothing to her daughters - one of whom wrote about being raised by a ''hateful mother.''
Also left out of the will were Davis' two grandsons.
The 10-page will was filed Monday for probate in Manhattan.
''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,'' Davis said in the will dated Sept. 2, 1987.
Davis, who died of cancer at age 81 on Oct. 6, had been estranged from her daughter, Barbara Davis Hyman of Charlottesville, Va., 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.
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. ''Twenty years from now they'll say, 'That was our grandmother; why didn't we know her.'''
Manhattan Surrogate Court Judge Renee Roth directed Hyman to notify the court by Dec. 5 if she plans to contest the will.
Davis' adopted daughter, Margot Mosher Merrill of Geneva, N.Y., was diagnosed as mentally retarded at age 3 and has been in special schools and institutions since.
The will did not specify how Margot Merrill would be provided for, or how she has been supported in the past.
Davis' adopted son, Michael Woodman Merrill of Chestnut Hill, Mass., receives about half the $600,000 to $1 million estate. His wife, Shu Shu, was left clothing.
Michael and Margot Merrill were adopted when Davis was married to actor Gary Merrill.
Kathryn Sermack, a friend and secretary who lived with Davis in her Los Angeles-area apartment, also gets about half the estate. Sermack also was left cookbooks and recipes, a gold charm bracelet, other jewelry, a desk, furiture and silverware with the initials ''BD.''
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 entitled, ''A Red Barn,'' a photo portrait of Davis, and a pearl and sapphire watch.
Faye Forbes of Peoria, Ariz., daughter of Davis' sister, Barbara Davis Berry, was left six silver condiment holders.
Davis died of cancer at Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, where she was being treated for cancer. Schiff said she had undergone a mastectomy in 1983 and had a stroke a few years later.
Davis was buried at her family's plot at Forest Lawn in Glendale, Calif.
Schiff asked in an affidavit that the court accept the will for probate here because he was her lawyer, business manager and friend for 27 years and his offices are here. He noted, too, that all of her tax returns and those of her production company were prepared by accountants here. He said the only asset in California is a condominium apartment.