Thu. Jul 9th, 2020

Holly Woodlawn, Transgender Star Of 1970s Underground Films, Dies At 69, Highlight Hollywood News

Some people are long before their time. It’s a cliché to say, make lemonade with lemons, while some amongst us do greater than that. They are brave, they stand up and live their lives, stay true to themselves, while giving courage to future generations to come.  Holly Woodlawn, a transgender actress who achieved underground stardom with her affecting performance as a starry-eyed down-and-outer in the 1970 film “Trash,” died on Sunday in Los Angeles. She was 69.

The cause was complictions of cancer, her manager, Robert Coddington, said.

Ms. Woodlawn became world renowned following her acceptance into the Andy Warhol’s studio headquarters, when she caught the attention of Paul Morrissey, Warhol’s partner in making experimental films like “Chelsea Girls” and “Flesh.” Mr. Morrissey cast her in “Trash” as the long-suffering paramour of a heroin addict who lives in squalor on the Lower East Side, played by Joe Dallesandro.holly-woodlawn

Ms. Woodlawn took her place in the Warhol pantheon alongside two other freshly minted stars, the transgender actresses Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling. Together, they brought a daffy, deadpan style to Mr. Morrissey’s next film, “Women in Revolt,” also produced by Warhol, a satire on the women’s liberation movement, with Ms. Woodlawn playing a nymphomaniac fashion model who detests men and joins the militant organization P.I.G. (Politically Involved Girls).

Ms. Woodlawn was born Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl on Oct. 26, 1946, in Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico, the child of a Puerto Rican mother and an American soldier of German descent who fled the marriage almost immediately after the wedding.

54 World Premiere

In New York, where she had moved to find a better-paying job, Ms. Woodlawn’s mother married a Polish immigrant, Joseph Ajzenberg, a waiter at the Catskills resort where she was working as a waitress. The three moved to Miami Beach, where Mr. Ajzenberg found work at the newly opened Fontainebleau hotel. Haroldo took his stepfather’s surname and Americanized his first name to Harold.

At 16, Harold left home and hitchhiked to New York, a moment memorialized in the 1972 Lou Reed song “Walk on the Wild Side.” It begins.

The narrative is that Ms. Woodlawn always was brave, she was always a free-spirit, long before it was in style to be this way. 

The early New York years were rough. “At the age of 16, when most kids were cramming for trigonometry exams, I was turning tricks, living off the streets and wondering when my next meal was coming,” Ms. Woodlawn recalled in her 1991 memoir, “A Low Life in High Heels: The Holly Woodlawn Story,” written with Jeff Copeland.hollywoodlawn

She worked as a file clerk, modeled dresses at Saks Fifth Avenue, danced as a go-go girl upstate and waved to the crowd in Amsterdam, N.Y., from the back of a Chevy convertible as Miss Donut 1968. She considered, but rejected, undergoing a sex-change operation.

Her most ambitious performance came in “Broken Goddess,” a short black-and-white silent film in 1973 with title cards taken from lyrics by Laura Nyro and music by Debussy. In the film, originally written for Bette Midler, Ms. Woodlawn executes a series of extravagant gestures, wearing heavy, Kabuki-like makeup.

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:   AP
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She said of making the film, “I felt like Ms. Liz Taylor.”