I Was a Dear Friend of the Woman "Sons of Anarchy" Star is Suspected of Murdering
Hollywood legend Catherine Davis rented me -- and many other actors -- rooms in her home throughout her life. Johnny Lewis isn't accused of murdering an 81-year-old woman. He is accused of murdering a saint.
by Taylor Negron
An early '80s headshot of Taylor Negron at 24, the age when he first moved in as a young actor into the "Writers Villa" run by Catherine Davis.
If you look at initial reports of the death of Johnny Lewis -- the "Sons of Anarchy" actor and, as all the media outlets have made sure to note, the ex of Katy Perry -- the name of the woman he is accused of brutally and horrifically murdering is not even mentioned at all.
Her name is Catherine Davis. And she is a Hollywood legend. A near saint.
And a kind and loving mother to so many, including me.
A writer, artist and entrepreneur, the media later explained her as an “elderly 81-year-old woman." This could maybe be used to describe her bones.
Cathy Davis was a woman of astounding energy and clear-minded self-creation. The house she rented to accused killer Johnny Lewis -- and to me, Parker Posey, Thomas Jane, Chris Parnell, Paula Poundstone, and so many others -- was known to us as the "Writer's Villa." It is located in an affluent part of Los Feliz and was built in 1927 to resemble a Villa in Spain or Italy. The original bathrooms of Malibu tile still exist, reflected by the beveled mirrors in the medicine cabinet. Hand-painted pink. Turquoise and lemon yellow ceramic tiles are inlaid in the sunny staircase that is at the center of the house leading to a carved door that is always open.
Born into humble roots in Texas, Cathy made sure she got into UCLA and there flourished in that atmosphere of 1950s Los Angeles where endless possibilities and vacant lots and a lot of handiwork led to a dream fulfilled.
Marrying and having a baby, Catherine moved into what clearly was a dream house on that gentle hill. The marriage dissolved and the feminist movement took hold and Cathy became what I always called a "Sesame Street feminist." Bold and colorful, simple, direct. Easy. She understood how to flatter men, but was never taken hostage. These were the women who raised my generation -- equal pay for equal work. Independent with the smarts on their sleeves. This quintessentially modern California lady living life on her own terms, armed with only a stack of Sunset Magazines and 100-watt smile.
The ad I answered in The LA Times when I was in my early twenties, read “rooms to rent in Villa." I went there to see. At this point I was making money from acting in movies and needed to settle down and start thinking about buying my own home.
"Well,” Cathy said in her pert Texas twinch, "you're in the right place. I am a real estate agent, and we will find you something you will love.”
I liked that she used the royal "we.” Hollywood is usually more about “me” than “we.” I knew nothing about mortgages or equity.
“Your job is to be an artist, to tell jokes," she told me.
I made Cathy laugh intensely. That is the greatest gift of all that I treasure.
When we make others laugh, the tension grinds away, and the moment is balanced. The “me” becomes a “we.”
Those of us, that fraternity that lived at the Villa, understoond that. They were the sum of our parts.
I took the room on the right upstairs with a large rounded fireplace and a view of succulents hemmed by aromatic sumac bushes. These native plants give off a slight aroma like gasoline. Clean and startling. Over time, I would move in and out of the Villa while Cathy looked around for my first home. She was quick to tell me I was home and that it was “my room … always.”