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Episode 72: Edie Sedgwick

Updated: Apr 23, 2019

Edie Sedgwick photographed by Jerry Schatzberg, 1966

“She was a catalyst. By being in contact with her, the edges were sharper. An evening with Edie would only end when Edie had got to the point of exhaustion, which would be at the end of 2 or 3 days. There’s that old Yogi axiom: the higher you go, the further you fall. We all know that. She liked walking very close to extinction, always.” 

From the moment Edith Minturn Sedgwick was born she was destined for both greatness and hardship. Desperate to break free from the clutches of her overbearing, abusive father, Edie (along with a number of her siblings) would be in and out of multiple psychiatric hospitals by the time she turned 20. It wasn’t until she began attending Cambridge as an art student miles away from the family ranch in Santa Barbara that the world opened up for her. Adored by all those around her Edie got her first real taste of freedom and fame. Within a year she had conquered the Harvard/Cambridge scene and set her sights for something bigger, New York City.  Word travels fast and within a couple months Edie was Manhattan’s new “It Girl” with people like Bob Dylan, Bob Neuwirth and Lester Persky knocking on her door. In March of 1965 Edie was introduced to Andy Warhol who knew a star when he saw one and together they became a sensation. In a mere 6 months Edie had starred in multiple Warhol productions, traveled to Europe with him to promote their films and was being mobbed at art galleries by adoring fans. The press had dubbed her “Girl of the Year” and there seemed to be no limit to the possibilities that lie ahead. But Edie’s mind was elsewhere, mourning the deaths of two of her brothers and forever in fear of her father putting her away again.

Edie lived like everyday would be her last with mass excess in every aspect. After spending her entire $80,000 inheritance in that first 6 months all Edie had left was her fame and a massive drug addiction. As quickly as she rose came a hard fall. By the end of the year Edie and Andy’s relationship was on the rocks, the modelling and acting gigs began to disappear and her family cut her off completely. Edie would continue to fight, desperately trying to out-run the Sedgwick curse that claimed her dear brothers.  For those who only know of Edie through her beautiful photographs, or the very loosely based biopic Factory Girl, this is her TRUE story.

After listening check out Edie: American Girl By Jean Stein & George Plimpton and Edie: Girl on Fire By Melissa Painter & David Wiseman, two INCREDIBLE biographies about Edie to learn even more about this beautiful, troubled, super star.