While her association with Andy Warhol would bring her lasting fame, Edie Sedgwick’s life was not without its tragedies and torments. With her distinct platinum hair and kohl-rimmed eyes, Sedgwick was the ultimate cool girl of the 60s. She acted as muse (or lover) to countless famous artists and musicians who passed through New York before her tragic demise at the age of 28—but few know her even darker history.
1. She Was A Poor Little Rich Girl
Born into a large family on April 20, 1943, Edie Sedgwick had a long way to go before becoming the freewheeling “It Girl” of the 60s. Although her family enjoyed the luxuries of wealth and status, her childhood was a verifiable nightmare. Her parents were terribly controlling and homeschooled their children out on the family ranches. As Edie grew, this toxic isolation led her down a dangerous path.
2. She Got Kicked Out
By the time Sedgwick was teenager, she’d already developed a rather worrisome eating disorder. In fact, she was only 13 years old when her binging and purging became so troublesome—it got her kicked out of boarding school. But after returning home, Sedgwick’s problems were far from over. Her father, Frances Sedgwick, was more than happy to rein in her freedoms.
3. She Caught Him In The Act
Even though he insisted on being calling “Fuzzy,” Sedgwick’s father was actually villain number one. He was a raging narcissist with a terrible temper, and Sedgwick feared both his touch and his wrath. On one memorable occasion, she caught him sleeping with one of his mistresses and the aftermath was so traumatizing—she never forgot it.
4. She Feared His Touch
Sedgwick’s father insisted that she had imagined the whole debacle, viciously slapped her, and then called a doctor to tranquilize her. But that wasn’t all. Later on, she confessed that, starting from the age of seven, her father had repeatedly tried to assault her. His complete control over her only continued, and he eventually had her committed to a psychiatric hospital.
5. She Stayed At A Mental Hospital
Fast forward to 1962, and things are still looking dire for Sedgwick. After moving through two mental hospitals, she finally started to overcome her struggles with anorexia. Unfortunately, she had a whole new host of challenges right out of the gate. While enjoying her new freedoms, she tumbled into bed with a Harvard student. Of course, the consequences were disastrous.
6. She Wanted A Fresh Start
At the age of 20, one of Sedgwick’s first forays in romance ended with an accidental pregnancy followed by a hasty abortion, which only exacerbated her battle with mental illness. Desperate to get away, she turned to the salvation of the arts. After joining her cousin, artist Lily Saarinen, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she started studying sculpture. But Sedgwick soon learned that a fresh start didn’t necessarily extinguish her many demons.
7. She Was A Fixer-Upper
Sedgwick was undeniably beautiful, and while she was at school, many of the boys started to take notice of her. Yes, she was gorgeous, but there was also something fragile about her—something damaged. To many outsiders, she looked like a damsel in need of saving, especially from herself. Little did they know, in just a few short years, young Edie would become an icon in her own right—still making her way despite a world of heartache.
And let me tell you, right on the threshold to fame, pure tragedy waited for her.
8. She Had Troubled Siblings
Not surprisingly, her siblings also carried their fair share of troubles. Like Sedgwick, her older brother Francis clashed constantly with their father, and he too found himself in a mental hospital in 1964. It was there that he hung himself, leaving Sedgwick stunned and awash in grief. But before she even had ample time to process this loss, disaster struck once more.
9. She Lost Two Brothers
To her disbelief, only 18 months later, Sedgwick lost yet another brother. Robert, who also grappled with mental illness, drove his motorcycle into the side of New York City bus on New Year’s Eve and perished. These early losses dug deep into Sedgwick’s heart and as she stepped into her adult life, she did so with a grown-up sense of life’s unfairness.
10. She Was A Trust Fund Baby
Perhaps the only bright side of Sedgwick’s young life was the luxury of wealth. When she turned 21, her grandmother provided her with a whopping trust fund of $80,000. She looked at this money and saw a second chance. With her piercing good looks and a pocketful of opportunity, Sedgwick packed her things and moved to New York City to live with her grandmother. Everything was about to change.
11. She Was Up In The Clouds
Originally, Sedgwick had dreams of becoming a model, auditioning for roles and mingling at events. In an attempt to fit in with the New York elite, she zoomed around in a grey Mercedes. But she was totally reckless with it. She often drove while tripping on acid, and it eventually led her to crashing her shiny status symbol. But if status was what she had in mind, it wasn’t long before she met the one man withe the power to catapult her to the very top.
12. She Met An Iconic Artist
In 1965, Edie Sedgwick met prolific pop artist Andy Warhol at one of Lester Persky’s parties. Andy Warhol, with his attachment to all things Marilyn Monroe, set eyes on Edie and saw a mirror image of one of his greatest muses. With her platinum blonde hair, big doe eyes, and soft speaking voice, he instantly gravitated toward her. She even drew a mole on her face. But the similarities didn’t end there.
13. She Looked Just Like His Muse
Other things about Sedgwick reminded Warhol of Monroe. She was unassumingly intelligent, demure but sexy, vulnerable and damaged. When reminiscing on his first impression of her, he said: “I could see that she had more problems than anybody I’d ever met. So beautiful but so sick. I was really intrigued.” More than that, it was almost impossible to not fall in love with Edie Sedgwick.
14. She Aroused Everyone
Sedgwick had the uncanny ability to turn anybody on, and I mean anybody. Some of her closest friends attested to her ability to attract even the gayest of men. Although she wasn’t as buxom as Monroe, she had her own sophisticated and feminine charms. When Warhol saw Sedgwick at the party, he honed in on a brand new muse. He didn’t hesitate to invited her to The Factory—his personal studio space. This was the place where superstars were made.
15. She Flew Away With Him
Edie Sedgwick really wedged herself into Andy Warhol’s psyche. In fact, only weeks after their first meeting, Warhol went the extra mile and invited her all the way to France for the opening of his Flowers exhibition. She travelled with him in style, wearing a white mink coat and carrying a suitcase carrying only one other item—another fancy mink coat. For Edie and Andy, this trip was just the beginning.
16. She Was In The Right Place At The Right Time
It seemed that Sedgwick had slipped into Warhol’s life at just the right time. He had only recently shifted his focus to movie-making, and Sedgwick definitely had star potential. During the filming of Vinyl, she stopped by the studio to observe the process. On a spur of a moment decision, he decided to include her in the picture. The results were sensational.
17. She Was A Sensation
Although Sedgwick’s role was small, the reaction to her brief performance was wild. Everybody wanted to know who the new blonde girl was. With only minutes of footage to her name, she managed to infatuate every audience. Her chic presence and effortless movements on camera were a godsend. With Sedgwick, Warhol knew he’d hit upon something special. After all, he was just as besotted as everyone else.
18. She Was The Lead
After the success of her tiny cameo, Warhol cast Sedgwick as the lead in the avant-garde film Poor Little Rich Girl. For a man known for his chilly demeanor, Edie certainly knew how to melt his heart. When it came to her, he was just as lost as everyone else: “Edie was incredible on camera—just the way she moved…The great stars are the ones who are doing something you can watch every second, even if it’s just a movement inside their eye.”
19. She Mirrored Him
One man who was very familiar with Andy Warhol and Edie 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. Although they weren’t a romantic couple, they mirrored one another in an uncanny way. Sedgwick started emulating Warhol’s style, while at the same time he envied her style.
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.”
20. She Had An Iconic Look
During this time, Sedgwick nailed her signature look: smudged kohl eyeliner, chandelier earrings, midnight leotards, and little dresses. And to match Warhol’s pale tresses, she also dyed her hair silver. This dynamic duo took their hot looks out on the town. Together, they started attending events, Sedgwick always clinging to Warhol’s side. He started calling her his “Superstar.” But what was he to her?
21. She Looked Up To Him
Under Warhol’s care, Sedgwick saw in him another father figure. Similar to her own father, Warhol was the head of his own domain and he ruled with absolute power. As much as he adored her, she also became his subject. Sedgwick bridged the gap between Warhol’s artistic world and the mainstream media. But she soon realized that his films were never going to make it in Hollywood.
22. She Lost Hope
When Sedgwick and Warhol first started collaborating, everything was drenched in hazy, hopeful possibility. But soon, it became clear, that beyond the underground screenings and private viewings, his work was never going to make it big. By the summer of 1965, the promises of spring had faded. Soon the two of them began to argue, especially over one thing in particular—money.
23. She Spent It All
Sedgwick’s lifestyle—the partying and lavish outings—took a huge toll on her wallet. Whenever the Factory circle went out, she often found herself picking up the exorbitant tab. The only problem was that she saw no money coming in. Warhol’s films, all of her work, didn’t seem to be reaping any profits. He kept telling her to give it time, but with her money dwindling and her patience waning, everything began to fall apart.
24. She Was Embarrassed
As her relationship with Warhol unravelled, Sedgwick demanded that Warhol stop showing the films she starred in. She wasn’t concerned with the pursuit of art, but rather whether audiences would turn her into a joke. According to Warhol, she once said, “These movies are making a complete fool out of me!” But her dwindling enthusiasm over Warhol wasn’t the only reason she wanted out.
25. She Blamed Him For Everything
The Andy Warhol Story was Sedgwick’s last film with Warhol and it only screened once at The Factory. 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 subtances.
As you have probably guessed, she and Warhol never made a film together again.
26. She Had A Thing For A Great Musician
1965 was an especially successful year for Bob Dylan, and Edie Sedgwick took special notice. In many ways, he was everything Andy Warhol wasn’t. And if she was thirsting for a change, why not run in the opposite direction. Dylan despised Warhol and encouraged Sedgwick to go her own way. But this weird little love triangle proved to be quite the mystery.
27. She Thought He Felt The Same Way
After extricating herself from Warhol’s elite circle, Sedgwick made her home at the Chelsea Hotel where she and Dylan grew more attached. Or, at least, that’s what she thought. Edie had a painfully obvious crush on Dylan, and for some time she thought he reciprocated her feelings. She even believed that two of them would star in mainstream movie together. But nothing could be further from the truth.
28. She Never Saw It Coming
For Sedgwick, starring in a movie with Bob Dylan seemed like easiest way into Hollywood. But in the end, it never happened. In fact, even after her passing, Dylan maintained that although he knew the young actress, they were never romantically involved. Allegedly, it was Andy Warhol himself who delivered some surprising news to his old cohort Edie—news that completely blindsided her.
29. She Got It Wrong
Apparently, without her even knowing, Dylan had gone ahead and married his girlfriend Sara Lownds in November 1965. Edie Sedgwick and Bob Dylan certainly weren’t an item and they definitely weren’t going to be making a film together. So why did Sedgwick get it so twisted? According to director Paul Morrissey, Bob Dylan “hadn’t been very truthful.” Of course, it would be years before another piece of the puzzle surfaced.
30. She Made A Confession
In 2006, the film based on Edie Sedgwick’s life, Factory Girl, precipitated an interview between producers and one of Sedgwick’s older brothers, Jonathan. He provided some shocking insight into his sister’s supposed relationship with Dylan. He claimed to remember Sedgwick coming to him with a disturbing confession. After she shared her story with him, he kept her secret for years.
31. She Suffered A Huge Loss
According to her brother, Sedgwick was once pregnant with Dylan’s child but was forced to have an abortion after being involved in a motorcycle accident. Apparently, doctors discovered she was pregnant after the crash and recommended an abortion as they were worried that her addictions and anorexia had probably effected the development of her baby. However, there was something fishy about these claims.
32. She Inspired His Music
Despite Jonathan’s conviction in this story, no hospital records could ever corroborate these serious allegations. The lack of evidence paired with Bob Dylan’s staunch denial means that the truth of it all remains a mystery. Still, many believe that Sedgwick’s influence on Dylan can be found in the lyrics to some of his songs, such as “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” and “Just Like A Woman.”
33. She Had A Severe Problem
After finding about Dylan’s marriage, Sedgwick didn’t have to look far before she set her sights on her next boyfriend. For much of 1966, she took up with Dylan’s close friend, Bob Neuwirth. But this was no happily ever after. Because of her growing addiction to barbiturates, their relationship became increasingly turbulent. Soon, Neuwirth found himself out of his depth.
34. She Stripped Down
Over time, Sedgwick’s addictions got so far out of hand that she was caught performing outlandish behavior in public. The effects of using once 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 down to her birthday suit before going for a run in one of the biggest cities in the US.
Still, everything went sour once her use threatened to dash her very dreams.
35. She Was An Exile
Sedgwick’s addiction problems effectively ruined her potential modelling career. Although she appeared in Vogue in the spring of 1966, her identity was intrinsically tied to the underworld scene—something that the fashion industry wanted to distance themselves from. But her bad luck didn’t end there. When she tried to return to the acting scene, she simply wasn’t landing any roles.
When Norman Mailer described one of her auditions, he brutally stated the she “wasn’t very good.” With no viable work on the horizon, Sedgwick started to circle the drain.
36. She Squandered Her Inheritance
Although Sedgwick had come into a large inheritance, she squandered it foolishly. After getting her own flat, she indulged in clothes and extravagance. Even after she’d decimated her savings, she refused to compromise. Apparently, she only took the subway once and shunned taxis. For Edie, it was limousines all the way. Add that to an expensive substance habit and her financial situation became increasingly dire.
37. She Was Difficult
In December 1966, Sedgwick packed her things and returned home for Christmas. The Chelsea Hotel may have been rather glad to bid her adieu as she was not the easiest tenant to deal with. She had a terrible habit of setting her room on fire, and when it came to paying her bills, she often threw explosive fits in the lobby. But when she arrived home, she realized that nobody really wanted her there either.
38. She Fell From Grace
Sedgwick’s parents were not impressed with what they saw and immediately had their daughter committed. Still, this couldn’t keep her from returning to New York to try again. When she returned, however, everything was different. Sedgwick soon realized that her time in the spotlight had passed. This sudden fall from grace only sent her spiralling into a deeper depression, and soon, she hit an all time low.
39. She Resorted To Theft
Bordering on destitution and desperate for substances, Sedgwick stole her grandmothers antiques in order to get her hands on some cash. The next eight months became a steady nightmare. She frequented different mental hospitals, and by the end of this frightening stretch of time, she had no choice but to throw in the towel and return to the ranch. The only problem was—she took her addictions with her.
40. She Sold Herself
Just because Sedgwick was home, didn’t mean she was any safer. It wasn’t long before she inserted herself into a motorcycle gang, giving men her body in exchange for substances. According to one of her friends, “She’d ball half the dudes in town for a snort of junk. But she was always very ladylike about the whole thing.” Sadly, Sedgwick’s troubles didn’t end there.
41. She Couldn’t Keep It Together
In March 1967, Sedgwick embarked on her last project, a film called Ciao! Manhattan. The entire production was a substance-addled adventure as the entire cast indulged in speed. For most of filming, Sedgwick was usually drunk or high. Her health rapidly deteriorated to such a point that she’d sometimes convulse on set and have to be restrained. Soon, however, Sedgwick dropped the ball entirely.
42. She Set Her Room On Fire
While filming, Sedgwick managed to set her room on fire at the Hotel Chelsea, and this time, she sustained some serious burns that landed her in the hospital. Not long after, her ravaged health became the reason for the suspended production on Ciao! Manhattan. Once again, Sedgwick had no choice but to return home. She was broken, exhausted, and in desperate need of help.
43. She Met Her Husband
In the summer of 1969, after being caught by the authorities for using, Sedgwick ended up in the psychiatric ward of Cottage Hospital. But her time spent there wasn’t all bad. In fact, she even managed to spark a romance with fellow patient Michael Brett Post—her future husband. After a couple of troubled years, the hospital finally allowed her to finish filming Ciao! Manhattan—under strict supervision, of course.
44. She Couldn’t Be Left Alone
Sedgwick’s relationship with Post was rather peculiar. They’d met under harrowing circumstances and he was eight years her junior. Apparently she’d convinced him that he didn’t need to wait until the age of 21 to lose his virginity. But that wasn’t all. Post also filled a very important role in her life. She wasn’t allowed to live on her own and she definitely didn’t want a live-in nurse. And so, Post became responsible for regulating her medication. But he wouldn’t have to do this for long.
45. She Slipped Down The Slope
Around this time, Sedgwick actually managed to pull herself together. At least for a short while. But her brief fling with sobriety came to an abrupt end when she fell ill and required prescription medication. Once again, she slid down the slippery slope of addiction and sunk deeper into barbiturates and drink. But this time, she’d never bounced back.
46. She Wasn’t Sure Anymore
On the tragic night of November 15, 1971, Sedgwick attended a fashion show and then later, a party that offered up some of her vices. There were drinks galore, and when she was through, she called her husband for a lift. But this wasn’t a cheerful night. In fact, on the drive home, the mood was terribly sombre. Sedgwick wasn’t sure about her marriage and voiced her worries to Post as they whipped through the night. Unbeknownst to both of them, Sedgwick would never live to see the light of day.
47. She Wasn’t Breathing Properly
Right before bed, Post made sure to give Sedgwick her medication. And after slipping beneath the sheets, Sedgwick quickly fell into a deep slumber. However, Post later noted that her breathing sounded extremely labored: “…it sounded like there was a big hole in her lungs.” But Sedgwick was a notorious smoker and her husband didn’t dwell too much on it. When he drifted off to sleep, Post could never have imaged the horror that awaited him in the morning.
48. She Did Too Much
When he awoke at 7:30 am, Post saw that Sedgwick wasn’t breathing. She had passed in her sleep. According to the coroner, she had overdosed on barbiturates, but whether it was accidental or intentional—it could never be determined. Edie Sedgwick was only 28 years old. It’s safe to say that her lifestyle of excess combined with her mental health issues only contributed to her early demise.
49. She Had A Tryst With Warren Beatty
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.
50. There’s More Than One Sedgwick
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 Sedgwick from Born on the Fourth of July and The Closer and Robert Sedgwick from Die Hard: With a Vengeance. Of course, these two had a definite crack at Hollywood, unlike poor Edie.