Johnny Lewis’s murder of Catherine Chabot Davis is resonating in Hollywood, where the 81-year-old woman was looked on as a patron saint of young actors looking for their first break or down on their luck.
Although neighbors in her wealthy Los Feliz neighborhood have described her in less than glowing terms, Val Kilmer, Parker Posey, Thomas Jane, Paula Poundstone, Chris Parnell and others all lived at her house at one time, according to actor and comedian Taylor Negron, who also resided there and knew Davis well.
Given some of the negative comments about Davis, Negron’s taken it on himself to explain just what she meant to so many actors. He’s written a touching tribute to her on Web site xojane.
“Johnny Lewis isn’t accused of murdering an 81-year-old woman. He is accused of murdering a saint,” he writes. “Cathy Davis was a woman of astounding energy and clear-minded self-creation.”
The house, he said, was known as the “Writer’s Villa,” a sprawling Spanish style mansion built in 1927 in one of Los Angeles’ wealthy neighborhoods. Davis attended UCLA, married, had a child, and later became a “‘Sesame Street feminist.’ Bold and colorful, simple, direct.”
“This quintessentially modern California lady living life on her own terms, armed with only a stack of Sunset Magazines and 100-watt smile,” he added.
“Over time, I stayed in every room in the house and became a part of that household, made up of equally eccentric types that came to Lowey Road to stay while in artistic transit or retreat.”
Davis’ body was found Sept. 27 bludgeoned to death. Her pet cat was also killed. Lewis was found dead in the driveway. He either slipped or jumped from a roof or high wall. One neighbor had a different impression of the villa.
“I was praying to God. ‘God,’ I said, ‘Clean up this mess here, because this is evil place. All kind of people, by the way, coming, different people, coming, going couple of days, disappearing, coming, other people,” the neighbor said.
But Negron argues that’s not how she should be remembered. “She was much more important to Los Angeles culture than her killer. We must all keep telling our stories of her generous spirit and her magical Villa.”
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