Birthday: April 20, 1943
Died At Age: 28
Sun Sign: Aries
Also Known As: Edith Minturn Sedgwick, Edith Minturn
Born in: New York City
Famous as: Actress, Model
Height: 1.63 m
Spouse/Ex-: Michael Post
father: Francis Minturn Sedgwick
mother: Alice Delano de Forest
siblings: Alice Sedgwick, Francis Sedgwick, Robert Sedgwick
Died on: November 16, 1971
place of death: Santa Barbara
Cause of Death: Drug Overdose
City: New York City
U.S. State: New Yorkers
education: The Branson School
Edie Sedgwick was an American fashion model and actress, best known for her recurring appearances in Andy Warhol’s films. In her heyday, she was known as one of the “superstars of Andy Warhol.” In 1965, she came to be known as “The Girl of the Year,” after appearing in a number of Andy Warhol’s short films. Born and raised in California, she belonged to a highly rich and esteemed family of artists. She was one of the eight children in the family, but despite her family’s affluence, she had a markedly troubled childhood. Apart from being affected by severe eating disorders as a kid, she was also frequently abused by her father, who was a narcissist and an emotionally distant artist. Edie inherited some of her inner demons from her father. This became apparent when she passed away at the tender age of 28 after dealing with mental issues for years. Though she was keen on beginning a mainstream acting career, Edie never quite managed to start one. She was frequently criticized for her dress sense, her lifestyle, and her drug addiction. However, she still remains an iconic figure in the American underground short-film scene, owing to her appearances in numerous Andy Warhol art films.
Childhood & Early Life
Edie Sedgwick was born on April 20, 1943 in Santa Barbara, California, US. She was the seventh child of Francis Minturn Sedgwick and Alice Delano de Forest. Her father was a famous sculptor and rancher. Edie was one of the eight children in the family, which was markedly dysfunctional. Her family was affected by her father’s frequent bouts of narcissism and depression, reflected in his tendency to physically abuse his children.
The children were raised on the family ranches in California and were mostly taken care of by nannies. They were not allowed to play with other children and were frequently asked not to talk to any of their peers in school. Every aspect of their lives was controlled by their parents, and this led to an anti-social mindset among the children. Edie became a victim of several mental disorders too, owing to the pressure she faced in childhood.
Edie suffered from an eating disorder, which led to an uncontrolled pattern of binge eating and then purging. She was enrolled at a boarding school in San Francisco, at the age of 13. Soon, her eating disorder worsened and led her father to bring her back home. She was then confined to the house, where she faced immense physical abuse by her father. Once, when she had walked in on her father having sex with his mistress, he had slapped Edie and had had her tranquilized, which further worsened Edie’s mental condition.
In the late 50s, she was enrolled at ‘St. Timothy’s School’ in Maryland, but she soon dropped out, owing to her eating disorder, which had by then worsened to anorexia.
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A Troubled Young Woman
Edie Sedgwick’s mental health became a cause of concern for her well-wishers. She embarked into adulthood with psychological disorders which were far worse than her eating disorders. In the winter of 1962, she was admitted to the ‘Silver Hill Hospital,’ a mental health institution in Connecticut. While in hospital, Edie lost a lot of weight and also successfully manipulated many staff members to be easy on her.
She was later sent to the ‘New York Hospital,’ where her condition finally improved. She gained weight and transformed into a beautiful young woman. Meanwhile, she fell in love with a Harvard student and got pregnant. However, she eventually opted for an abortion, citing her mental health issues.
In 1963, she moved to Cambridge and studied sculpturing with her cousin. Her cousin later stated that Edie was highly insecure and prone to depression and that she was low on self-confidence. Many men loved her, but Edie still remained insecure. However, what further deteriorated her mental health were the deaths of two of her brothers, both of whom had committed suicide.
While in Cambridge, Edie turned 21 and received a gift of US$ 80,000 from her grandmother. She used the money to start a new life in New York. Years of taking prescription medication led her to being addicted to them. Additionally, her friends in Cambridge had introduced her to LSD. They had also strongly advocated the spiritual benefits of the drug.
While trying to become a model and an actor, she met short filmmaker Andy Warhol in 1965, through common friends. Andy was immediately inspired by her beauty and her “weirdness” and invited her over to his studio, which was known as “The Factory.” During one of Edie’s visits to the studio, Andy was working on his short film ‘Vinyl,’ in which he gave Edie a small part, despite the film having had an all-male cast in the beginning.
He then included Edie in another short film, titled ‘Horse.’ Andy felt Edie had a charm that could be utilized in movies. ‘Horse’ was followed by two more short films, ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’ and ‘Kitchen.’ Most of Andy Warhol’s films were not critically or commercially appreciated and were considered to be art-house underground films. However, the underground film scene had significant influence on mainstream media, and Edie soon became a topic of interest.
Most articles regarding her, in leading newspapers and in other news outlets, ridiculed her for her choice of films and for her unconventional fashion sense. Edie and Andy were soon rumored to be dating and began to be seen publicly more often.
A few more films that Andy and Edie had worked on together were ‘Prison,’ ‘Lupe,’ ‘Outer and Inner Space,’ and ‘Chelsea Girls.’ Eventually, the relationship between the two soured. Their last film together was ‘The Andy Warhol Story,’ which was filmed in 1966.
Following her fallout with Andy Warhol, Edie became close to Bob Dylan and signed a deal with his manager, Albert Grossman. She had developed a strong liking for Bob Dylan and hoped to feature in a mainstream film with him someday. However, Bob had no such plans. Bob was not romantically interested in Edie either.
After a few attempts of starting her acting career, she received disappointments from all sides. In early 1967, she finally got the opportunity to star in an underground feature film, ‘Ciao! Manhattan.’ Midway through the film’s shooting, Edie’s apartment caught fire accidentally, and she sustained intense burns. By then, she had become addicted to barbiturates and this made the producers decide to stop filming.
Toward the late 60s, Edie was hospitalized once again and was admitted to the psychiatric ward. She was released in 1970 but was put under the supervision of a psychiatrist. She was traumatized by the doomed fate of her debut feature film and asked the producers to start filming again. She also recorded tapes that spoke about her life. The film was eventually released in 1972.
Personal Life & Death
Edie Sedgwick had several relationships but most of them were troubled to the core. After her fallout with Andy Warhol, she had an intense relationship with Bob Dylan’s friend Bob Neuwirth in 1966. The relationship was doomed from the very beginning, as Neuwirth was not fond of her drug addiction and this made him eventually break up with her.
Edie then married Michael Post in 1971. Michael was a fellow patient whom she had met at the ‘Cottage Hospital.’
Sedgwick was found dead on November 16, 1972. The previous night, she had drunk heavily and had also consumed barbiturates, which led to a case of lethal intoxication.
Edie Sedgwick remained a troubled, yet beautiful woman all her life. However, she finally gave in to her inner demons. She was remembered by Bob Dylan in his songs ‘Just like a Woman’ and ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ and has also inspired several other songs and a few films.