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Candy Darling

Candy Darling
"Candy Darling on her Deathbed" by Peter Hujar
Born James Lawrence Slattery
(1944-11-24)November 24, 1944
Forest Hills, Queens, New York, U.S.
Died March 21, 1974(1974-03-21) (aged 29)
New York, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Lymphoma
Resting place Cherry Valley Cemetery
Occupation Actress

Candy Darling (November 24, 1944 – March 21, 1974) was an American Transgender actress, best known as a Warhol Superstar. She starred in Andy Warhol's films Flesh (1968) and Women in Revolt (1971), and was a muse of the protopunk band The Velvet Underground.


  • Early life 1
  • Warhol years 2
  • After Warhol 3
  • Illness and death 4
  • Legacy 5
    • Documentary 5.1
    • Portrayals 5.2
      • Film 5.2.1
      • Stage 5.2.2
    • Music 5.3
    • Visual arts 5.4
    • Namesakes 5.5
  • Works 6
    • Filmography 6.1
    • Bibliography 6.2
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Candy Darling was born James Lawrence Slattery in Forest Hills, Queens, the child of Theresa (née Phelan 1911–2014),[1] a bookkeeper at Manhattan's Jockey Club, and James "Jim" Slattery, who was described as a violent alcoholic.[2]

There is controversy surrounding the year of birth. According to former Warhol associate, Bob Colacello, Darling was born in 1946, while IMDb has listed her year of birth as 1948. Her friend, roommate, and posthumous editor, Jeremiah Newton, states that she was born on November 24, 1944.

Darling's early years were spent in Massapequa Park, Long Island, where she and her mother had moved after her parents divorced. Her half-brother Warren Law II, from his mother's first marriage to Warren Law I, left home for the U.S. military, leaving Jimmy as the only child. Warren later denied his connection to her.

She spent much of her childhood watching television and old Hollywood movies, from which she learned to impersonate her favorite actresses, such as Joan Bennett and Kim Novak. In 1961 she signed up for a course at the DeVern School of Cosmetology in Baldwin, on Long Island.[3] She claimed to have "learned about the mysteries of sex from a salesman in a local children's shoe store" and finally revealed an inclination towards crossdressing when her mother confronted her about local rumors, which described her as dressing as a girl and frequenting a local gay bar called The Hayloft. In response, Jimmy left the room and reappeared in full feminine attire. Her mother later said that, "I knew then... that I couldn't stop Jimmy. Candy was just too beautiful and talented."[4]

Late at night, Darling would often take a short taxi ride to the LIRR train station, avoiding the attention of neighbors she would receive if she walked. There she would take the train to Manhattan, frequently sitting across from Long Island starlet Joey Heatherton. Once there, she referred to her Cape Cod-style home, at 79 First Avenue in Massapequa Park, as her "country house" and hung out in Greenwich Village, meeting people through the circle of Seymour Levy, on Bleecker Street.

Darling met Jeremiah Newton in the summer of 1966. Newton was on his first trip to the Village from his home in Flushing, Queens. The two would become friends and roommates, living together in Manhattan and Brooklyn until the time of Darling's death in 1974.[3]

Her first assumed name was Hope Slattery. According to Bob Colacello, Darling adopted this name sometime in 1963/1964 after she started going to gay bars in Manhattan and making visits to a doctor on Fifth Avenue for hormone injections. Jackie Curtis stated that Darling adopted the name from a well-known Off-Off Broadway actress named Hope Stansbury, with whom she lived for a few months in an apartment behind the Caffe Cino so that she could study her. Holly Woodlawn remembers that Darling's name evolved from Hope Dahl to Candy Dahl and then to Candy Cane. Jeremiah Newton believed she adopted her forename out of a love for sweets. In her autobiography, Woodlawn recalled that Darling had adopted the name because a friend of hers affectionately called her "darling" so often that it finally stuck.

Warhol years

Before they met, in 1967, Darling saw Andy Warhol at the after-hours club called The Tenth of Always. Darling was with Jackie Curtis, who invited Warhol to a play that she had written and directed, called Glamour, Glory and Gold, starring Darling, as "Nona Noonan", and a young Robert De Niro, who played six parts in the play.[5] It was performed at Bastiano's Cellar Studio on Waverly Place. Taylor Mead brought Warhol to see it and afterwards went to the club Salvation in Sheridan Square, where he was joined by Darling and Curtis at his table.

Warhol cast Darling in a short comedic scene in Flesh (1968) with Jackie Curtis and Joe Dallesandro. After Flesh, Darling was cast in a central role in Women In Revolt (1971). She played a Long Island socialite, drawn into a woman's liberation group called PIGS (Politically Involved Girls), by a character played by Curtis. Interrupted by cast disputes encouraged by Warhol, Women in Revolt took longer to film than its predecessor and went through several title changes before it was released. Darling wanted it called Blonde on a Bum Trip since she was the blonde, while Curtis and Woodlawn told her it was more like "Bum on a Blonde Trip", titles which were both used in the film during Darling's interview scene. For a short time, Darling worked as a barmaid at Slugger Ann's, the bar owned by Jackie Curtis's grandmother.[6]

Women in Revolt was first shown at the first Park Avenue, followed by a party at Francesco Scavullo's townhouse, where they watched TV reviews of the movie, some of which called it "a rip-off", and that it "looked as if it were filmed underwater," and "proves once again that Andy Warhol has no talent. But we knew that since the Campbell's Soup cans."

Among the guests at Darling's party were D.D. Ryan, Egon and Diane von Furstenberg. Jackie Curtis stood out in the cold, along with other gate crashers.

The day after the celebrity preview a group of women wearing army jackets, pea coats, jeans and boots and carrying protest signs demonstrated outside the cinema against the film, which they thought was anti-women's liberation. When Darling heard about this, she said, "Who do these dykes think they are anyway?... Well, I just hope they all read Vincent Canby's review in today's Times. He said I look like a cross between Kim Novak and Pat Nixon. It's true - I do have Pat Nixon's nose."

After Warhol

Candy Darling went on to appear in other independent films, including Brand X, by Wynn Chamberlain, Silent Night, Bloody Night, as well as a co-starring role as a victim of trans-bashing in Some of My Best Friends Are...

She also appeared in Klute with Jane Fonda and Lady Liberty with Sophia Loren. In 1971 she went to Vienna to make two films with director Werner Schroeter; The Death of Maria Malibran, and another one that was never released. Her attempt at breaking into the mainstream movie circuit, by campaigning for the leading role in Myra Breckinridge, (1970) led to rejection and bitterness.

Her theatre credits include two Jackie Curtis plays, Glamour, Glory and Gold (1967) and Vain Victory: The Vicissitudes of the Damned (1971). She was also in Tennessee Williams' play Small Craft Warnings, at the invitation of Williams himself. She starred in the 1973 Off-Broadway revival of The White Whore and the Bit Player, a 1964 play by Tom Eyen. Darling's character, a Hollywood actress known only as "the Whore", was based on Marilyn Monroe. As a review of the play stated, "With her teased platinum hair and practiced pouts, Miss Darling looks like her character and resolutely keeps her acting little-girl-lost. The role-playing aspect works to her advantage. She could, after all, be a male lunatic pretending to be the White Whore."[7]

Illness and death

Darling died of lymphoma on March 21, 1974, aged 29, at the Columbia University Medical Center division of the Cabrini Health Center.[8] In a letter written on her deathbed and intended for Andy Warhol and his followers, Darling said, "Unfortunately before my death I had no desire left for life... I am just so bored by everything. You might say bored to death. Did you know I couldn't last. I always knew it. I wish I could meet you all again."[9]

Her funeral, held at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel, was attended by huge crowds, including friends Peter Allen, Pat Ast, Eric Emerson, Tally Brown, Maxime de la Falaise, Jane Holzer, Sylvia Miles, Kenneth Jay Lane, and John and Genevieve Waite. Julie Newmar read the eulogy.[10] Darling's brother Warren, not having seen her in years and unaware that she had been living as a woman, was said to have been visibly shaken by her feminine appearance. Darling's birth name was never spoken by the minister or any of the eulogizers. A piano piece was played by Faith Dane. Gloria Swanson was remembered for saluting Darling's coffin.[11]

Candy Darling was cremated, her ashes interred by her friend Jeremiah Newton in the Cherry Valley Cemetery, located in Cherry Valley, New York, a tiny historical village located at the foot of the Catskill Mountains.



A feature-length documentary on Darling, titled Beautiful Darling, premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival (or Berlinale) in February 2010. The documentary features archival film and video footage, photographs, personal papers, archival audio interviews with Tennessee Williams, Valerie Solanas, Jackie Curtis and Darling's mother, as well as contemporary interviews with Holly Woodlawn, Fran Lebowitz, John Waters, Julie Newmar, Peter Beard, and Taylor Mead. Chloë Sevigny narrates the film, voicing Darling's private diary entries and personal letters. The film was directed by James Rasin and produced by Jeremiah Newton and Elisabeth Bentley.




  • She was also portrayed by actor Vince Gatton in the off-Broadway production of David Johnston's play Candy and Dorothy, for which Gatton received a Drama Desk award nomination.[14]


Visual arts


  • In 2009, C☆NDY, which calls itself "the first transversal style magazine", debuted. It is named for Candy Darling.[17]
  • Byredo created a scent named for Darling, in candle form.[18]



Year Title Role Notes
1968 Flesh Candy
1970 Brand X Marlene D-Train
1971 La Mortadella Transvestite Alternative title: Lady Liberty
1971 Klute Discothèque Patron
1971 Some of My Best Friends Are... Karen / Harry
1971 Women in Revolt Candy
1972 Der Tod der Maria Malibran
1973 An American Family Herself
1974 Silent Night, Bloody Night Guest
2002 The Cockettes Herself Archive footage
2004 Superstar in a Housedress Herself Archive footage
2006 Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film Herself Archive footage
2010 Beautiful Darling Herself Archive footage


  • Darling, Candy (1992). Newton, Jeremiah, ed.  


  1. ^ Theresa Phelen obituary accessed 4/4/2015
  2. ^ Bell, Arthur (May 18, 1972). "Darling Candy, where were you the night Jean harlow died?".  
  3. ^ a b Moynihan, Colin (February 24, 2009). "From the Archives, a Portrait of a Pop-Art Muse".  
  4. ^ Comenas, Gary. "Candy Darling". Retrieved November 8, 2010. 
  5. ^ "What is the Robert DeNiro Connection?". For Members Only: The Story of the Mob's Secret Judge. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  6. ^ Palladini, Giulia (May 26, 2011). "Queer Kinship in the New York Underground: On the 'Life and Legend' of Jackie Curtis". Contemporary Theatre Review (Routledge). Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  7. ^ Gussow, Mel (February 6, 1973). "Eyen's 'The White Whore and Bit Player' Arrives".  
  8. ^ "Candy Darling Dies; Warhol 'Superstar'".  
  9. ^ Wiegand, David (July 28, 1997). "Candy's Fairy-Tale 'Face' Diaries Reveal Longing For Identity". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  10. ^ Lopez, Alfred J., ed. (2012). Postcolonial Whiteness: A Critical Reader on Race and Empire. SUNY Press. p. 64.  
  11. ^ Donovan, Janet (May 23, 2011). Beautiful Darling' Candy, Born as James"'". Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  12. ^ Bacalzo, Dan (October 15, 2009). "Doug Kreeger, Randy Harrison, Leslie Kritzer, Brian Charles Rooney, et al. Set for Yale Rep's Pop!". Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Harrison to Star as Warhol in Yale Rep's POP! Musical; Kreeger, Kritzer Also Cast". October 15, 2009. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  14. ^ Simonson, Robert (April 27, 2006). "The Drowsy Chaperone Leads 2006 Drama Desk Nominations". Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  15. ^ Morton, Julia (January 26, 2007). "Greer Lankton, A Memoir". artnet. Artnet Worldwide Corporation. Retrieved March 13, 2012. 
  16. ^ I Am a Bird Now - Credits. Allmusic. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  17. ^ Tim Blanks. "Exclusive: The World's Biggest Transgender Stars Cover C☆NDY". 
  18. ^ "Zac Posen – 15 favourite things". Vogue UK. Retrieved April 8, 2015. 

Further reading

  • Bockris, Victor (1998). The Life and Death of Andy Warhol. 4th Estate.  
  • Colacello, Bob (2000). Holy Terror: Andy Warhol close up. Cooper Square.  
  • Harron, Mary; Minahan, Daniel (1996). I Shot Andy Warhol. Bloomsbury.  
  • Rasin, James.  
  • Warhol, Andy (1981). Popism: the Warhol '60s. Hutchinson.  
  • Woodlawn, Holly; Copeland, Jeff (1991). A Low Life in High Heels. St Martin's Press.  

External links

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