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Remembering Holly Woodlawn: Actress, Trans Icon, Warhol Muse

AP PHOTO

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.' 

Holly Woodlawn, the transgender actress immortalized in Lou Reed’s iconic song “Walk on the Wild Side,” and was made famous by Andy Warhol, has died at the age of 69.

Woodlawn died Sunday in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer, according to the Associated Press.

Her first film was director Paul Morrissey’s film Trash and her final on screen role was as Vivian in two episodes of Amazon’s award-winning comedy, Transparent, reported Variety.

She was born in Puerto Rico, moved with her family to Miami, Fla. but ran away from home when she was 16 and took on the name Holly Woodlawn, according to the AP. As in Reed’s song, she hitchhiked to New York City, where she met Warhol and appeared in his film, Women in Revolt.

Woodlawn’s costar in Morrisey’s 1970 movie, Trash, was Joe Dallesandro, who remained a lifelong friend. He tweeted that he visited her in hospice, just before her death:

 

In her heyday in the 1970’s, Woodlawn received critical acclaim for her film roles and became one of Warhol’s drag queen “superstars,” but she couldn’t escape New York’s underground scene. Mainstream success eluded her. 

According to the wire service, her cult status helped her make a comeback in such 1990’s independent films as Twin Falls Idaho and Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss. Woodlawn also had a small part in the film Milwaukee, Minnesota.

She performed in cabaret acts but years of alcohol and substance abuse ultimately took its toll, according to Variety. 

Dallesandro posted on his Facebook wall “We will have a memorial for Holly hopefully at Hollywood Forever and show TRASH and have an opportunity to remember her face to face.”

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