Holly Woodlawn, the transgender actress who starred in Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey’s 1970s films Trash and Women in Revolt and inspired Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” has died.
Her caretaker and friend Mariela Huerta told the Associated Press that Woodlawn died Sunday in Los Angeles at age 69. Woodlawn had been diagnosed with cancer.
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Born in Puerto Rico, Woodlawn left home at 15 and hitchhiked to New York City, where she became one of Warhol’s “superstars.”
Reed’s song begins, “Holly came from Miami, F.L.A. Hitchhiked her way across the U.S.A. Plucked her eyebrows on the way. Shaved her legs and then he was a she. She says, ‘Hey, babe, take a walk on the wild side.’”
“I was very happy when I gradually became a Warhol superstar. I felt like Elizabeth Taylor!” Woodlawn told the Guardian in 2007. “Little did I realize that not only would there be no money, but that your star would flicker for two seconds and that was it. But it was worth it, the drugs, the parties, it was fabulous. You live in a hovel, walk up five flights, scraping the rent. And then at night you go to Max’s Kansas City where Mick Jagger and Fellini and everyone’s there in the back room. And when you walked in that room, you were a STAR!”
In that same interview, she also explained she didn’t get to know Reed until after “Walk on the Wild Side” was released.
Woodlawn did not find mainstream success following her days in the 1970s underground film scene, but she did go on to appear in the independent films Twin Falls Idaho and Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss in the 1990s. Most recently, she appeared on the Amazon series Transparent.
Huerta told the AP plans for a memorial service are pending.