The Untold Truth Of Bette Davis

Bette Davis was married for the fourth and final time to Gary Merrill, the actor who had starred alongside her in the warmly received “All About Eve” in 1950. The role of acid-tongued thespian Margot Channing, who is finding her authority undermined by the appearance of a fresh-faced young actress, was uniquely appealing to Davis, and she adored the character to such a degree that when she and Merrill adopted a baby girl together in 1951, it was the name she chose for the child. The following year, they adopted a baby boy, Michael.

But while Davis’s marriage to Merrill was the longest of her life — they divorced in 1960, after a decade together — it was also beset by tragedy. According to James Spada, as Margot grew, her parents became concerned about her unusual behavior. Upon examination, experts concluded that the child had suffered from brain damage, perhaps as a result of birth.

Davis and Merrill rowed violently over what they should do. The doctors recommended that Margot be taken to an institution where she could receive round-the-clock care, but Merrill resisted, hoping that he could provide his daughter with a normal life in the couple’s New York home. Eventually, Merrill was convinced, and Margot was enrolled at the Lochland School, a facility where she would remain for the rest of her life.

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