Edie Sedgwick

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Edie Sedgwick

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Edie Sedgwick
Edie1.jpg

Edie Sedgwick (center) in the 1972 film Ciao! Manhattan
Born Edith Minturn Sedgwick
(1943-04-20)April 20, 1943
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
Died November 16, 1971(1971-11-16) (aged 28)
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
Cause of death Barbiturate overdose
Resting place Oak Hill Cemetery
Nationality American
Other names Mazda Isphahan
Edith Sedgwick Post
Education The Branson School
St. Timothy’s School
Harvard University
Occupation Actress, model
Years active 1965–1971
Spouse(s) Michael Post (m. July 24, 1971 – November 16, 1971; her death)
Parent(s) Francis Minturn Sedgwick (1904–1967)
Alice Delano de Forest (1908–1988)
Relatives Henry Dwight Sedgwick (grandfather)
Henry deForest (grandfather)
Edith Minturn Stokes (aunt)
Lilian Swann Saarinen (cousin)
Signature
Edie sedgwick autograph.svg

Edith Minturn Sedgwick (April 20, 1943 – November 16, 1971) was an American actress and fashion model. She is best known for being one of Andy Warhol’s superstars. Sedgwick became known as “The Girl of the Year” in 1965 after starring in several of Warhol’s short films in the 1960s.[1][2] She was dubbed an “It Girl“,[3] while Vogue magazine also named her a “Youthquaker“.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Edie Sedgwick was born in Santa Barbara, California, the seventh of eight children of Alice Delano de Forest (1908–1988) and Francis Minturn Sedgwick (1904–1967), a rancher and sculptor.[5] She was named after her father’s aunt, Edith Minturn Stokes, who was famously painted with her husband, Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes, by John Singer Sargent.[6]

Despite her family’s wealth and high social status, Edie’s early life was troubled.[7] The Sedgwick children were raised on the family’s California ranches. Initially schooled at home and cared for by nannies, their lives were rigidly controlled by their parents. They were largely isolated from the outside world, and it was instilled into them that they were superior to most of their peers. It was within these familial and social conditions that Sedgwick by her early teens developed an eating disorder, settling into an early pattern of bingeing and purging. At age 13 (the year her grandfather Henry Sedgwick died), Sedgwick began boarding at the Branson School near San Francisco. According to her older sister Alice “Saucie” Sedgwick, she was soon taken out of the school because of the eating disorder. Her father severely restricted her freedom when she returned home. All the Sedgwick children had conflicted relationships with their father (whom they called “Fuzzy”). The children adored Fuzzy, but by most accounts, he was narcissistic, emotionally remote, controlling, and frequently abusive. He also openly carried on affairs with other women. On one occasion, Edie walked in on him while he was having sex with one of his mistresses. She reacted with great surprise, but Fuzzy claimed that she had imagined it, slapped her, and called a doctor to administer tranquilizers to her.[8] In 1958, she was enrolled at St. Timothy’s School in Maryland. She was eventually taken out of the school due to an eating disorder that had progressed to anorexia.

In the fall of 1962, at her father’s insistence, Sedgwick was committed to the private psychiatric hospital Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut. As the regime was very lax, Sedgwick easily manipulated the situation at Silver Hill, and her weight kept dropping. She was later sent to Bloomingdale, the Westchester County, New York division of the New York Hospital where her anorexia improved markedly. Around the time she left the hospital, she had a brief relationship with a Harvard student, became pregnant, and procured an abortion, citing her present psychological issues, with her mother’s intervention.[citation needed]

In the fall of 1963, Sedgwick moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and began studying sculpture with her cousin, artist Lily Saarinen. Saarinen said of her cousin Sedgwick, “She was very insecure about men, though all the men loved her.”[9][10] During this period, she partied with members of an elite bohemian fringe of the Harvard social scene, which included many gay men. Sedgwick was deeply affected by the loss of her older brothers, Francis Jr. (known as “Minty”) and Robert (known as “Bobby”), who died within 18 months of each other. Francis Sedgwick, who had a particularly unhappy relationship with Fuzzy, suffered several breakdowns, eventually committing suicide in 1964 while committed at Silver Hill Hospital. Her second oldest brother, Robert Sedgwick also suffered from mental health problems and died when his motorcycle crashed into the side of a New York City bus on New Year’s Eve 1965. It was ruled an accident, but Edie told friends that she considered this a suicide as well.[citation needed]

Family background[edit]

Sedgwick’s family was long established in Massachusetts history. Her seventh-great grandfather, English-born Robert Sedgwick,[11] was the first Major General of the Massachusetts Bay Colony settling in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1635.[12] Sedgwick’s family later moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts where her great-great-great grandfather Judge Theodore Sedgwick had settled after the American Revolution. Theodore married Pamela Dwight of the New England Dwight family[13] who was the daughter of Abigail (née Williams) Dwight. Ephraim Williams, the founder of Williams College, was Sedgwick’s fifth-great grandfather.[14] Judge Theodore Sedgwick was the first to plead and win a case for the freedom of a black woman, Elizabeth Freeman, under the Massachusetts Bill of Rights that declared all men to be born free and equal.[15] Her paternal great-great-great grandfather, William Ellery, was a signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence.[15]

Sedgwick’s mother, Alice, was the daughter of Henry Wheeler de Forest, the President and Chairman of the Board of the Southern Pacific Railroad, and a direct descendant of Jessé de Forest, of Huguenot ancestry, whose Dutch West India Company helped to settle New Amsterdam.[16] Jessé de Forest was also Edie’s seventh-great grandfather.[17] Her paternal grandfather was the historian and acclaimed author Henry Dwight Sedgwick III; her great-grandmother, Susanna Shaw, was the sister of Robert Gould Shaw, the American Civil War Colonel; and her great-great-grandfather, Robert Bowne Minturn, was a part owner of the Flying Cloud clipper ship and is credited with creating and promoting Central Park in New York City.[18] She was the first cousin once removed of actress Kyra Sedgwick. Kyra is the daughter of Henry Dwight Sedgwick V (Edie’s first cousin), the son of Robert Minturn Sedgwick, who was the older brother of Francis Minturn Sedgwick.

The Factory[edit]

With her twenty-first birthday, celebrated in Cambridge, and with her coming of age, Sedgwick received an $80,000 trust fund from her maternal grandmother and sought a new life in New York City to pursue a career in modeling. For years she had been receiving prescribed medication, due to her father’s insistence on her living in institutions, but in New York around this time, it is supposed she took her move into recreational drugs and was reportedly[citation needed] introduced to LSD by friends from Cambridge who knew Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (two prominent Harvard professors who advocated LSD use for its therapeutic and spiritual value).

In March 1965, Sedgwick met artist and avant-garde filmmaker Andy Warhol at a party at Lester Persky‘s apartment. It was far from Warhol to remain unimpressed with the social depth of Sedgwick’s background nor with her radiant beauty and she received the suggestion that, with her friend Chuck Wein, she might call in at The Factory, where he always was, his already famed working art studio. During one of her subsequent visits, Warhol was filming Vinyl, his interpretation of the novel A Clockwork Orange. Despite Vinyls all-male cast, Warhol put Sedgwick in the movie. She also made a small cameo appearance in another Warhol film, Horse, when she entered towards the end of the film. Sedgwick’s appearances in both films were brief, but generated enough interest that Warhol decided to create vehicles using her presence to the fullest.

The first of those films, Poor Little Rich Girl, was originally conceived as part of a series of films featuring Sedgwick called The Poor Little Rich Girl Saga. The series was to include Poor Little Rich Girl, Restaurant, Face and Afternoon. Filming of Poor Little Rich Girl began in March 1965 in Sedgwick’s apartment. Like the majority of Warhol’s avant-garde films, Poor Little Rich Girl saw a limited release to underground film theaters and viewings at The Factory. Sedgwick’s next film for Warhol was Kitchen (1965). Written by Factory scriptwriter Ronald Tavel, the film stars Sedgwick, Rene Ricard, Roger Trudeau, Donald Lyons and Elecktrah. After Kitchen, Chuck Wein replaced Ronald Tavel as writer and assistant director for the filming of Beauty No. 2, in which Sedgwick appeared with Gino Piserchio.

Warhol’s films were not commercially successful and rarely seen outside The Factory circle and underground film theaters, but Sedgwick’s notoriety grew. Mainstream media outlets began reporting on her appearances in Warhol’s films and her unusual fashion sense. During this period, she developed her ‘ look ‘ – black leotards, mini dresses, large chandelier earrings and a trademark eye make-up. Sedgwick also cut her naturally brown hair short and was to colour it with silver spray, creating a twin look with the hair-pieces Warhol wore. Warhol christened her his “Superstar” and both were photographed together at various social outings.

Throughout 1965, Sedgwick and Warhol continued making films together – Outer and Inner Space, Prison, Lupe and Chelsea Girls. However, by late 1965, Sedgwick and Warhol’s relationship had deteriorated and Sedgwick, as best she could, made a demand that Warhol no longer show her films. The edited footage of Sedgwick in Chelsea Girls would eventually become the film Afternoon.

Lupe is often thought to be Sedgwick’s last Warhol film, but Sedgwick filmed The Andy Warhol Story with Rene Ricard in November 1966, almost a year after she filmed Lupe. The Andy Warhol Story was an unreleased film that was only screened once at The Factory. Along with Sedgwick, the film featured Ricard satirically pretending to be Andy Warhol.

Post-Factory years[edit]

Following her estrangement from Warhol’s inner circle, Sedgwick began living at the Chelsea Hotel, where she became close to Bob Dylan. Dylan and his friends eventually convinced Sedgwick to sign up with Albert Grossman, Dylan’s manager. According to Paul Morrissey, Sedgwick had developed a crush on Dylan that she thought he reciprocated as the start of a romantic relationship. She was also under the impression that she and Dylan would star in a mainstream film together. Unbeknownst to Sedgwick, Dylan had secretly married his girlfriend Sara Lownds in November 1965. Morrissey claimed that Sedgwick was informed of the marriage by Warhol (who reportedly heard about it through his lawyer) in February 1966. Friends of Sedgwick’s later said that she saw the supposed offer of doing a film with Dylan as a ticket to a mainstream film career. Paul Morrissey claimed that Dylan likely never had plans to star in a film with Sedgwick, and Dylan “…hadn’t been very truthful.”[19]

Since Sedgwick’s death, Bob Dylan has routinely denied that he ever had a romantic relationship with Sedgwick but did admit to knowing her. In December 2006, several weeks before the release of the controversial Factory Girl,[20] the Weinstein Company and the film’s producers interviewed Sedgwick’s older brother, Jonathan, who said that Sedgwick told him she had aborted a baby she claimed was Dylan’s.[21] Jonathan Sedgwick claimed that Edie had the abortion soon after she was injured in a motorcycle accident. As a result of the accident, doctors consigned her to a mental hospital where she was treated for drug addiction. No hospital records or Sedgwick family records exist to support this story. Nonetheless, Sedgwick’s brother also claimed “Staff found she was pregnant but, fearing the baby had been damaged by her drug use and anorexia, forced her to have the abortion.”[22][23]

Throughout most of 1966, Sedgwick was involved in an intense but troubled relationship with Dylan’s friend, Bob Neuwirth. During this time, she became increasingly dependent on barbiturates. In early 1967, unable to cope with Sedgwick’s drug abuse and erratic behavior, Neuwirth broke off their relationship.

Later years[edit]

After breaking with Andy Warhol and The Factory scene, Sedgwick attempted to forge a legitimate acting career. She auditioned for Norman Mailer. His stage adaptation of his novel The Deer Park was being produced. But Mailer “turned her down….—She was very good in a sort of tortured and wholly sensitive way—…She used so much of herself with every line that we knew she’d be immolated after three performances.”[24]

In March 1967, Sedgwick began shooting Ciao! Manhattan, a semi-autobiographical underground film co-directed by John Palmer and David Weisman. During this period, she accidentally set her room on fire in the Chelsea Hotel and was briefly hospitalized with burns. Due to Sedgwick’s rapidly deteriorating health from drug use, filming was suspended. After further hospitalizations for drug abuse and mental issues in 1968 and 1969, Sedgwick returned to her family’s ranch in California to recuperate. In August 1969, she was hospitalized again in the psychiatric ward of Cottage Hospital after being arrested for drug offenses by the local police. While in the hospital, Sedgwick met another patient, Michael Brett Post, whom she would marry in July 1971.[citation needed]

Sedgwick was hospitalized again in the summer of 1970 but was let out under the supervision of a psychiatrist, two nurses, and the live-in care of filmmaker John Palmer and his wife Janet. Determined to finish Ciao! Manhattan and have her story told, Sedgwick reconnected with Ciao! Manhattan filmmakers and began shooting in Arcadia, California and Santa Barbara in late 1970. She also recorded audio tapes reflecting on her life story, which Weisman and Palmer used to incorporate her accounts into the film’s dramatic arc. Filming completed in early 1971, and the film was released in February 1972.

Marriage and death[edit]

Sedgwick married Michael Post on July 24, 1971, a fellow patient whom she met while committed to the Cottage Hospital in the summer of 1970. During this time, she reportedly stopped abusing alcohol and other drugs for a short time. Her sobriety lasted until October 1971, when she was prescribed pain medication to treat a physical illness. Sedgwick soon began abusing barbiturates and alcohol.[citation needed]

On the night of November 15, 1971, Sedgwick went to a fashion show at the Santa Barbara Museum, that included a segment filmed for the television show An American Family.[25] After the fashion show, she attended a party where she drank alcohol. She then phoned her husband to pick her up. On the way home, Sedgwick expressed thoughts of uncertainty about their marriage.[26] Before they both fell asleep, Post gave Sedgwick the medication that had been prescribed for her. According to Post, Sedgwick started to fall asleep very quickly and her breathing was “bad – it sounded like there was a big hole in her lungs”, but he attributed it to her heavy smoking habit and went to sleep.[27]

When Post awoke the following morning at 7:30 AM, Sedgwick was dead. The coroner ruled her death as “undetermined/accident/suicide”. Her death certificate states the immediate cause was “probable acute barbiturate intoxication” due to ethanol intoxication. Sedgwick’s alcohol level was registered at 0.17% and her barbiturate level was 0.48 mg%. She was 28.[28]

Sedgwick was not buried in her family’s Sedgwick Pie cemetery plot but in the small Oak Hill Cemetery in Ballard, California. Her epitaph reads “Edith Sedgwick Post – Wife Of Michael Brett Post 1943–1971”.[29] Her mother Alice was buried next to her in 1988.[30]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman” and “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” from his 1966 album Blonde on Blonde are reportedly about Sedgwick.[31] His 1965 No. 2 single “Like a Rolling Stone” was also reportedly inspired by her.[32]
  • The Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale” from their 1967 album The Velvet Underground & Nico is about Edie Sedgwick.[33]
  • Sedgwick appears on the cover of Dramarama’s 1985 debut album Cinéma Vérité. The music video for the album’s first single Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You) also features clips of her in Ciao! Manhattan.
  • Edie (Ciao Baby)” is a hard rock song by English band The Cult. It appeared on their fourth studio album Sonic Temple in 1989. The cover of the single features the iconic Ciao! Manhattan photo.
  • Warren Beatty bought the rights to Sedgwick’s life story in the 1980s and was planning to make a movie initially with Molly Ringwald, then later with Jennifer Jason Leigh, as Sedgwick[34] along with Al Pacino as Andy Warhol. It was also reported that a film titled The War at Home was to be loosely based on her life during The Factory years, with Linda Fiorentino slated to portray her. It was to be based on John Byrum’s fictionalized account of a working-class man who becomes enamored of her. Neither was ever produced.[35]
  • In 1985, Dream Academy released a 7″ single “The Love Parade” in the US with the b-side song “Girl In A Million (For Edie Sedgwick)” on Reprise Records.
  • Actress and model Jennifer Rubin played Sedgwick in the 1991 film The Doors, directed by Oliver Stone.
  • In the 2002 film Igby Goes Down, Amanda Peet‘s character, Rachel, is described as an “Edie Sedgwick wanna-be” and dresses in Sedgwick-inspired attire throughout the film.[36]
  • Director Mike Nichols and actress Natalie Portman considered doing a film about Sedgwick and Andy Warhol but instead decided to film an adaptation of Patrick Marber‘s play Closer, released in 2004.[37]
  • Sienna Miller played Sedgwick in George Hickenlooper‘s film Factory Girl, a fictionalized account of Sedgwick’s life, released in December 2006. The film portrays Warhol, played by Guy Pearce, as a cynic who leads Sedgwick into a downward spiral of drug addiction and psychiatric problems. Hayden Christensen plays “Billy Quinn”, an apparent conglomeration of various characters but a look-alike of Bob Dylan. (As of late 2006, Dylan was apparently threatening to pursue a defamation lawsuit, claiming the film implicates him as having driven Sedgwick to her death.) Michael Post, Sedgwick’s widower, appears as a taxi driver in one of the last scenes of the film.[38]
  • A 2004 off-Broadway play entitled Andy & Edie, written and produced by Peter Braunstein ran for 10 days.[39] Misha Moore, who portrayed Sedgwick, claimed to be the late model’s niece. At the request of the Sedgwick family, The New York Times published a notice of correction.[40]
  • The 7th song on Tal Cohen-Shalev’s 2009 album Heartaches and Ashes is dedicated to Edie Sedgwick and called “Factory Girl (song for Edie Sedgwick)”.[41]
  • Alizée’s 2010 album Une Enfant Du Siècle was inspired by and depicts the life of Edie Sedgwick.[42]
  • On the 2010 album 13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests by Dean & Britta, the fifth track, “It Don’t Rain in Beverly Hills”, was written to accompany Warhol’s screen test for Sedgwick.[43]
  • Rapper G-Eazy‘s song “Downtown Love” is based on Edie Sedgwick’s story[44]
  • The second track from the Edie Brickell & New Bohemians album Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars is titled “Little Miss S.” and is about Edie Sedgwick[45]
  • The seventh track from the 2013 Shark Inferno album We Are Monsters is titled “Edie Superstar” and is about Edie Sedgwick[46]
  • In The Venture Bros. Season 6 episode “It Happening One Night”, Doom Factory member Eeney Meanie is a combination of Edie Sedgewick and the Marvel superheroine Wasp.
  • Girl of the Year is a dream pop song by American band Beach House, the song is based on Sedgwick’s story. It appears on the band’s album 7 released in 2018

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1965 Horse Non-speaking role; first appearance in a Warhol film
1965 Vinyl Non-speaking role
1965 Bitch
1965 Screen Test No. 1 Herself
1965 Screen Test No. 2 Herself
1965 Poor Little Rich Girl Poor Little Rich Girl Credited as Mazda Isphahan
1965 Face
1965 Restaurant
1965 Kitchen
1965 Afternoon
1965 Space
1965 Beauty No. 2
1965 Factory Diaries
1965 Outer and Inner Space
1965 Prison[47] Alternative title: Girls in Prison
1966 Lupe Lupe Vélez
1966 The Andy Warhol Story final film with Warhol
1967–1968 Four Stars**** Alternative title: The Four Star Movie; uses footage of Sedgwick from previous Warhol films
1969 Walden Herself Alternative title: Diaries, Notes and Sketches
1972 Ciao! Manhattan Susan Superstar Released posthumously
Actress (17 credits)
 1972 Ciao Manhattan
Susan Superstar
 1967 Color Me Shameless (Short)
 1967 ****
 1966 Face
 1966 Lupe
Lupe Velez
 1966 Outer and Inner Space (Short)
 1965 Afternoon
 1965 Dirt (Short)
 1965 Horse
 1965 Kitchen
 1965 Prison
 1965 Restaurant (Short)
 1965 Space
 1965 Beauty #2
 1965 Vinyl
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