Oct. 13, 1950: Twentieth Century Fox releases the drama film “All About Eve,” starring Bette Davis (1908-1989) and a cast including Gary Merrill (1915-1990), both actors with strong Maine connections. The movie wins six Academy Awards.

Davis and Merrill married each other while the film was in production; they divorced 10 years later after adopting two children. Merrill later had a four-year affair with actress Rita Hayworth. His autobiography, “Bette, Rita, and the Rest of My Life,” was published in 1989, shortly before he died of lung cancer.

Merrill wrote in his book that he and Davis “discovered that we had both spent our childhood summers in Maine – I at Prout’s Neck, she at Ocean Park, a summer community quite close by. Because of her early introduction to the coast of Maine, we found that our love for it was similar – a happy discovery, common ground.”

Davis, in her 1962 book “The Lonely Life: An Autobiography,” recalled that Merrill’s mother was a major hurdle she had to overcome. She records this exchange between Merrill and his mother:

“ ‘Have you gone crazy Gary? Marrying a middle-aged woman who will throw all your antiques into the ocean?’


“Merrill’s defense of me was heroic.

“ ‘But mother – she loves lobsters.’ ”

Davis’ father was from Augusta and is buried there. During their marriage, Merrill and Davis lived with their children in Cape Elizabeth. Merrill, a Bowdoin College graduate, died in Falmouth, where he moved in 1965.

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at islandportpress.com. To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]


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