The avant-garde artist Andy Warhol once declared that in the future, everybody would be famous for 15 minutes. This ultimately didn’t apply to himself, or to his clique, known as the Warhol superstars. This group of eccentric artists, based in New York City, were all involved in Warhol’s art projects. One of the most prominent—and ill-fated—members of this clique was the actress Edie Sedgwick.
While her association with Warhol would bring her lasting fame, Sedgwick’s life was not without its tragedies and torments. Her fame peaked during the tumultuous 1960s, a decade rife with creative opportunities as well as tragedy on an international level. So how did the 60s It Girl reflect the decade in which she was most famous? Here are 42 facts about Edie Sedgwick.
1. How it All Began
Sedgwick was born Edith Minturn Sedgwick on April 20, 1943 in Santa Barbara, California. She was named after her aunt Edith Minturn Stokes, who had once posed for a famous painting by John Singer Sargent.
2. Runs in the Family
Sedgwick wasn’t the only one in her family to take up acting. Two of her first cousins, once removed, also went into acting as a profession. You might know them as Kyra (Born on the Fourth of July, The Closer) and Robert Sedgwick (Die Hard: With a Vengeance).
3. Thanks, Lester!
Sedgwick was first introduced to Andy Warhol in the spring of 1965 by Lester Persky, a producer who would later produce the 1979 film Hair. Warhol and Sedgwick would hit it off immediately, and soon after their first meeting, Sedgwick was cast in Warhol’s 1965 film Vinyl, which was an experimental adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange.
4. Who’s That Lady?
As you can imagine, Sedgwick’s hasty entry into the cast of Andy Warhol’s Vinyl was as much of a last-minute decision as it seems. In the finished project, Sedgwick has no line of dialogue, and barely even appears in it. However, her poise and style caught everyone’s attention immediately.
5. One Big Family
Sedgwick was the seventh of eight children born to Alice and Francis Sedgwick. Sedgwick’s father was a rancher and a sculptor, which might be one of the more random combinations of jobs that we’ve yet heard of.
6. Talk About a Windfall
When Sedgwick turned 21 years old in 1964, her maternal grandmother gifted her with an $80,000 trust fund. We saved you the trouble of doing the math; in 2019, that amount would be worth $648,343.23.
7. You Cast Ferris Bueller to Play Him?
Through her mother, Sedgwick was related to Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. During the Civil War, Shaw took command of the first all-black regiment in the US Army, leading it in battle until his early death while charging against Fort Wagner in 1863. His story was portrayed in the film Glory, starring Matthew Broderick as the idealistic general.
8. She’s Got the Look!
For those of you unfamiliar with Sedgwick’s filmography, she became well known for the distinctive style that she would wear in films and in public. Her fashion consisted of “black leotards, mini dresses, large chandelier earrings and a trademark eye make-up.”
9. Are You Lonesome Tonight?
Sedgwick spent her childhood on her family’s isolated ranch in California. She and her siblings did not go to public school for their education, and had to be regularly taken to a doctor in order to receive Vitamin B injections.
10. Get Away From That Ranch!
According to Sedgwick, both her father and one of her own brothers attempted to seduce her when she was as young as 7 years old.
11. Family of Artists
In 1963, Sedgwick studied sculpture in Cambridge, Massachusetts alongside her cousin, Lily Saarinen. Saarinen would go on to be a prominent artist and sculptor in her own right. Among her many works include the Royal Dutch Airlines sculpture in John F. Kennedy Airport, the Bagheera Fountain in Boston, and the sculpture known as “Screaming Eagle” in Detroit’s Federal Reserve Bank Building Annex.
12. Dad’s Ancestors
Members of Sedgwick’s paternal family were among those who came to the continent back when the United States were still colonies. Not only that, several of her father’s family were actively involved in some of the most important events in American history. Two of her ancestors, both named John, served as generals in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War respectively.
Additionally, Sedgwick’s great-great-great grandfather, William Ellery, is one of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.
13. Was This Before He Went Electric?
One of the films which Sedgwick did with Andy Warhol also featured legendary folk musician Bob Dylan. Dylan would go on to (allegedly) write at least two songs about Sedgwick: “Just Like a Woman” and “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.”
14. Tributes in Song
Other artists who have made songs that mention Sedgwick include The Cult (“Edie (Ciao Baby)”), The Velvet Underground (“Femme Fatale”), G-Eazy (“Downtown Love”), and Beach House (“Girl of the Year”).
15. From School to School
In 1958, Sedgwick was enrolled at Maryland’s St. Timothy’s School by her parents. Her time at the school was cut short, however, due to a battle with anorexia. As a result, she dropped out of school and spent the next few years spending time in various institutions, before her physical and mental health improved.
16. Art and Life Blended
In 1966, Sedgwick acted in the Andy Warhol film Lupe, where she portrayed Mexican-American actress Lupe Vélez. In a sad parallel, both actresses would die young as a result of barbiturate overdoses.
17. When I Said Watching Movies All Day, I Didn’t Mean This!
Sedgwick was one of many actors in the Andy Warhol film ****—that’s not a curse word bleeped out, by the way, that was its literal title. The film, in its original form, ran for a whopping 1,100 minutes (around 25 hours).
18. Brother, Sweet Brother
In the span of 18 months, Sedgwick lost two of her older brothers. Francis Sedgwick Jr. took his own life in 1964, while Robert was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1965. These two deaths reportedly haunted Sedgwick for the rest of her life.
19. As Played by…
Sedgwick has been portrayed by two actresses in films about her life or about the people with whom she was associated. Model and actress Jennifer Rubin portrayed Sedgwick in Oliver Stone’s 1991 film The Doors. In 2006, Sienna Miller portrayed Sedgwick in Factory Girl.
20. Scuttled Productions
Aside from the aforementioned portrayals of Sedgwick in film, other attempts have been made to bring her life to the big screen without success. Another project with Linda Fiorentino never went into production, while Natalie Portman was interested in playing Sedgwick onscreen, but chose to do the film Closer instead.
21. The Great Outdoors
In her youth, Sedgwick was well-known for her enthusiastic athleticism. While living on the family ranch, Sedgwick was known to swim, dance, and ride horseback. According to her brother, Jonathan, she would go horse riding for hours at a time on the ranch, which was more than 6,000 acres in size.
Speaking of Vinyl, Sedgwick’s first film with Andy Warhol was featured in Steven Schneider’s 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
23. You’re So Vain
Speaking of failed movie adaptations, Sedgwick was one of the many, many women to be romantically associated with Hollywood star Warren Beatty. In the 1980s, years after her passing, Beatty purchased the rights to Sedgwick’s life story and tried to make a film about her. This production never made it out of development hell, but we do know that he initially wanted to cast Molly Ringwald in the lead role, followed by Jennifer Jason Leigh in later attempts.
24. Welcome Back
In the summer of 1970, Sedgwick was committed to the psychiatric ward of Cottage Hospital in California. This also happened to be the same hospital in which she had been born.
25. Passion is Fleeting
While she was staying in Cottage Hospital, Sedgwick met a fellow patient named Michael Brett Post, with whom she fell in love. The two of them were eventually married on July 24, 1971. Sadly, their marriage would last less than four months due to her untimely and tragic death.
26. Out With a Meta Flourish
The last film which Sedgwick ever acted in was Ciao! Manhattan. The film was a loose adaptation of Sedgwick’s real life, with most of the actors in the film essentially playing themselves. Ciao! Manhattan was released to considerable indie success in 1972, after Sedgwick’s passing.
Even in her films with Andy Warhol, Sedgwick was willing to speak frankly about her own life being messed up by the subculture into which she’d been initiated by Warhol. However, she was also adamant that she had been drawn to this world due to her own insecurities and past traumas. As she once put it, “Everything I did was really underneath, I guess, motivated by psychological disturbances.”
28. Mixing Up Fact and Fiction
In 2004, actress Misha Moore starred in an off-Broadway play titled Andy & Edie, where she played the titular role of Sedgwick. Moore went one step further and stated that she was actually the niece of Sedgwick, but this public claim was quickly refuted by Sedgwick’s surviving family. The play ultimately ran for 10 days.
29. Weeping Magnolias
When Sedgwick was married to Michael Post, her wedding bouquet was made up of magnolia flowers. This same type of flower would later adorn her casket just a few short months later.
30. Reasonable Explanation
In the middle of production for Ciao! Manhattan, she had a breast augmentation. This created an inconsistency within the film, so Weisman added an exchange between Sedgwick and another character where she attributes her increase in bust to a healthier lifestyle.
31. Five Finger Discount
It’s never been diagnosed, but Sedgwick was convinced that she suffered from kleptomania. In support of this idea, Sedgwick was known to steal from stores, family, and friends alike. While some might say it was simply her attempts to fuel her substance abuse, the behavior seems to have predated her addiction. Another element of her kleptomania, confirmed by Andy Warhol, was that Sedgwick hoarded objects as well.
32. Keep it Classy, Bob…
During the mid-1960s, Sedgwick became completely enamored of Bob Dylan, who returned her feelings far enough to allegedly begin a romantic affair with her—though he has staunchly denied any romantic relation ever occurred between them. When Dylan married his girlfriend Sara Lownds in 1965, Sedgwick reportedly didn’t find out about it until Andy Warhol informed her.
Again, we must emphasize that this information is denied by Dylan, who isn’t afraid to make his displeasure known when others disagree with his view of the truth.
33. Bold Claim
In the winter of 2006, a film adaptation of Sedgwick’s life (titled Factory Girl) was released to polarizing and controversial responses. One of the claims made by the film came from Sedgwick’s brother, who was interviewed shortly before the film’s release. He claimed that his sister had conceived a child with Bob Dylan, which she was forced by doctors to abort.
Sedgwick had been hospitalized to treat her drug addiction following a motorcycle accident, and according to her brother, the doctors who discovered her pregnancy feared for the baby’s health and performed an abortion. We must point out that there is no medical record which corroborates this story, and Dylan denies having any romantic relationship with Sedgwick.
34. A Haunted Hall
Around 1966, Sedgwick moved into the much-storied Chelsea Hotel and became yet another celebrity who made her mark on the place. In Sedgwick’s case, she spent her time in the Chelsea Hotel having a vigorous love affair with Bob Neuwirth, a singer-songwriter. By her own account she “could make love for 48 hours… without getting tired”. In case you don’t believe us about the Chelsea Hotel’s reputation, the room she stayed in (105) was just down the hall from the room where Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols would allegedly murder his girlfriend Nancy Spungen years later.
35. Couldn’t Have Been a Bit More Pleasant?
On the last night of Sedgwick’s life, she attended a party being held in honor of fashion designer Michael Novarese, which followed a fashion show that had taken place earlier that day. During the party, Sedgwick was verbally accosted by another party guest, who accused Sedgwick of being a heroin addict. The guest was ordered out of the party, but Sedgwick soon left as well.
36. To Be Fair, it was a Really Warm Day!
Over time, Sedgwick’s drug addictions got so far out of hand that she was caught performing outlandish behavior in public. Sedgwick herself reflected on one instance where she had taken “A shot of cocaine and speed, and a shot of heroin.” The effects of those drugs led her to take off out of her apartment and run two blocks down Park Avenue before her friends could stop her from doing anything else.
That, of course, might not have sounded so bad if it weren’t for the fact that she’d also stripped completely naked before going for a run in one of the biggest cities in the US.
37. Father of the Year, Everyone…
When Sedgwick was a child, she allegedly walked in on her father having an affair with another woman—something that he purportedly did very often. Naturally, this caused her to react badly, whereupon her father claimed that she was lying and had a doctor prescribe tranquilizers for his hysterical daughter. This incident has been seen by most as the beginning of Sedgwick’s long and cruel relationship with drugs.
38. Regardless, it was Tragic
On the morning of November 16, 1971, Sedgwick’s husband, Michael Post, woke up to find Sedgwick lying dead beside him. She was 28 years old, and her “alcohol level was registered at 0.17% and her barbiturate level was 0.48 mg%.” Her cause of death, according to the coroner, was “undetermined/accident/suicide.”
39. Thanks for Nothing
In 1966, Andy Warhol released his short film The Andy Warhol Story. The 20-minute film consists of Warhol and Sedgwick in a conversation where Warhol initially talks about his own career and life, only for Sedgwick to break down as they talk about how cavalierly Warhol treated people in his life. Sedgwick then goes on to accuse Warhol of ruining her life by falsely promising her fame and helping her indulge in drugs.
As you have probably guessed, she and Warhol never made a film together again.
40. What an Ingrate
In case it hasn’t been made clear yet, Sedgwick spent all the money she had on promoting the work of Andy Warhol. In a rather cruel twist of fate, Warhol hadn’t really been paying attention to who’d been picking up the bill, and mockingly nicknamed Sedgwick the “poor little rich girl.” Even after she died, Warhol couldn’t help but jokingly ask whether her husband would “get her money.”
This kind of rude question proved too much for Warhol’s friend, who brusquely declared, “She didn’t have any money. She spent it all on you.” We can only hope that Warhol learned the error of his ways, though it might have been nicer if he’d learned when Sedgwick was still alive.
41. Bad News Bear
One famous story about Sedgwick’s hauntingly short life which has endured is focused on the very last night of her life. Attending a party, Sedgwick had her palm read, only for the palm reader to be taken aback by her incredibly short life line. Sedgwick gave the palm reader another jolt by taking the news shockingly well; she simply said, “It’s okay–I know.”
42. Does That Count as Codependent?
One man who was very familiar with Andy Warhol and Sedgwick during their time together was writer Truman Capote. According to Capote, Warhol’s friendship and collaborations with Sedgwick had a rather bizarre aspect to them. Sedgwick would model her hairstyle and look on Warhol, while this would only increase Warhol’s envy of Sedgwick.
As Capote once declared, “Andy Warhol would like to have been Edie Sedgwick. He would like to have been a charming, well-born debutante from Boston. He would like to have been anybody except Andy Warhol.”