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Miriam Deering is the main antagonist of the 1964 film Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte. She is portrayed by Olivia de Havilland.

She is Charlotte's cousin, who conspires with her doctor to drive Charlotte insane.

History

Miriam is a poor cousin of Charlotte Hollis who lived with her family as a girl. In 1927, Charlotte's married lover, John Mayhew, plan to elope during a party at the Hollis family's mansion. Charlotte's father confronts John over the affair and intimidates him with the news that John's wife visited the day before and revealed the affair. John pretends he no longer loves Charlotte and tells her they must part. John is then brutally murdered and decapitated in the summerhouse with a cleaver, with one hand severed. Charlotte discovers his body. She returns traumatized to the party in a bloody dress, and most of the guests assume Charlotte is the murderer.

Years later, in 1964, Charlotte still lives at the same house, now a wealthy spinster. Charlotte's father died the year after Mayhew's murder, believing his daughter guilty. All these years, Charlotte has believed that her father killed John Mayhew. Everyone else assumes that Charlotte is responsible.

Needing help in her fight against the Highway Commission, she calls upon Miriam. Miriam arrives and renews her relationship with Drew Baylis, a local doctor who jilted her after the murder. However, Drew and Miriam are actually in cahoots together to drive Charlotte insane. It is also revealed that Miriam was the one who revealed John and Charlotte's affair to his wife, Jewel, and Mr. Hollis.

After Miriam arrives, Charlotte's sanity begins to slip. Her nights are haunted by a mysterious harpsichord playing the song Mayhew wrote for her and by the appearance of Mayhew's disembodied hand and head. Velma, her housekeeper, suspects that Miriam and Drew are after Charlotte's money and seeks help from Mr. Willis, an insurance investigator who is still interested in the Mayhew case. Miriam fires Velma. However, Velma returns and discovers that Charlotte is being drugged. Miriam finds Velma trying to take Charlotte out of the house and the two argue at the top of the stairs. Velma tries to escape but Miriam smashes a chair over her head, causing Velma to fall down the stairs to her death.

One night, a drugged Charlotte runs downstairs in the grip of a hallucination, believing John has returned to her. Miriam and Drew decide to trick Charlotte into shooting Drew with a gun loaded with blanks, after which Miriam helps dispose of the "body" in a swamp. Charlotte returns to the house and sees the supposedly dead Drew at the top of the stairs, reducing her to whimpering insanity.

Now believing Charlotte completely mad, Miriam and Drew go into the garden to discuss their plan: to drive Charlotte insane in order to get her money. Miriam then reveals to Drew that Jewel is responsible for John's murder and Miriam has been using this knowledge to blackmail Jewel for all these years, while plotting to gain possession of Charlotte's wealth. Charlotte overhears their plans and pushes a huge stone urn off the ledge of the balcony and onto the duumvirate, crushing both to death.

Notes

  • The Freeform series Pretty Little Liars did an episode inspired by the film, titled Hush, Hush, Sweet Liars. In the episode, Miriam's role is given to Mary Drake.