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Edie Sedgwick
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tudorhistoryguy
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EDIE SEDGWICK

(1943-1971)

to JAN. 1965: ANDY MEETS EDIE

Edie Sedgwick (1966)

(photo: Billy Name)

Andy Warhol was often blamed for Edie Sedgwick's descent into drug addiction and mental illness. However, before meeting Warhol, Edie had been in mental hospitals twice and came from a family with a history of mental illness. She was only close to Warhol for about a year, from approximately March 1965 to February 1966.

Another fallacy was that Warhol ditched Edie after using her up whereas the truth was that it was Edie's decision to leave the Factory, lured by promises of stardom by Bob Dylan and his manager, leaving Andy feeling slightly betrayed.

HER PARENTS

Edie Sedgwick's father was Francis Minturn Sedgwick (1904-1967), a Santa Barbara rancher who had three nervous breakdowns prior to his marriage in 1929 to Edie's mother Alice Delano De Forest. Before the marriage, Alice's father visited Francis Sedgwick's doctors at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge Massachusetts, where he was recovering from a phase of manic-depressive psychosis. Alice's father was advised by Francis's doctor at the psychiatric clinic that Francis and Alice should not have any children. (EDIE49)

They eventually had a total of 8 children: Alice (Saucie) in 1931, Robert Minturn (Bobby) in 1933, Pamela in 1935, Francis Minturn (Minty) in 1938, Jonathan in 1939, Katharine (Kate) in 1941, Edith Minturn (Edie) in 1943, and Susanna (Suky) in 1945.

HER BACKGROUND

Edie Sedgwick's family ancestry originated from Stockbridge, Massachusetts where Edie's great-great-great grandfather had moved after the Revolution. Judge Theodore Sedgwick (1746-1813) had been Speaker of the House of Representatives in the time of Alexander Hamilton and George Washington and had also been the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. His wife, Pamela Dwight (1753-1807) had gone insane "halfway through her life." (EDIE3) Stockbridge had closer ties to New York than Boston, with many of her family ancestors pursuing careers in New York after being educated at Harvard.

After their marriage, Edie's parents, Francis and Alice, lived in Cambridge while Francis took classes at the Harvard Business School. Because of his "asthma attacks and other nervous symptoms" his doctors "advised him to develop his artistic side." (EDIE50) They moved to Long Island, spending their summers in a house in Santa Barbara that they had bought on their honeymoon. They eventually moved to a 50 acre fruit ranch in Goleta in 1943. Edie was born at the Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara on April 20, 1943. During the war, they moved to a larger ranch, Corral de Quati, in the Santa Ynez Valley with money inherited from Edie's maternal grandfather, Henry Wheeler De Forest. Although he had lost much of his fortune in the Wall Street crash, half of the remaining money (several million dollars) went to Edie's mother. (EDIE62)

THE RANCH

Although land rich (3,000 acres), "there was a feeling at this stage of being pinched for money, of cutting corners", according to Edie's sister Saucie. "We children were dressed in hand-me-downs from our Eastern cousins, and we got very little for Christmas or birthdays." (EDIE62) Oil was discovered on the ranch in the early fifties and approximately seventeen wells were constructed to take advantage of it. With the additional money, the family was able to move to a new 6,000 acre ranch about six miles from Corral de Quati in July 1952. Edie's sister, Suky, described the new ranch, Rancho La Laguna de San Francisco, as "gloriously beautiful" (EDIE78)

The Sedgwicks lived in their own world, and even had their own school constructed on their property. The children were not allowed to go to public school. (EDIE70) Edie and her sister, Suky, were taken to a woman doctor in the Santa Ynez Valley for daily vitamin B shots. (EDIE79)

MINTY

Edie's brother Minty (Francis Minturn) was an alcoholic at the age of fifteen (EDIE83). Later, in the the early sixties, he ended up at Silver Hill psychiatric hospital, attending AA meetings when he was out. (EDIE102), In October 1963 he was committed to Bellevue after being found in Central Park standing on a statue making a speech to a non-existent audience. From Bellevue he went to Manhattan State Hospital. He then returned to Silver Hill and was found dead in his room in early 1964. (EDIE135-6) He had hung himself the day before his twenty-sixth birthday. The night before committing suicide, he rang Edie and, according to one of her friends at the time, Minty told Edie that "she was the only Sedgwick he could ever hope for." (EDIE139/140)

BOBBY

Her other brother, Bobby, also had psychiatric problems. He had a nervous breakdown in the early 1950s during his sophomore year at Harvard. He was taken from his dorm, Eliot House, in a straitjacket. When he returned in to Harvard in the Autumn of 1953 he continued to see a psychiatrist in Boston. On August 20, 1963 he was committed again - this time to Bellevue, just a few months before Minty was admitted. After staying in Bellevue for ten days, he was committed to Manhattan State Hospital. On New Year's Eve 1964 he was riding his Harley Davidson without a helmut and crashed into the side of a bus, dying on January 12, 1965. (EDIE147/152)

ANOREXIA

Edie was first institutionalized in the autumn of 1962 after suffering from anorexia and, like her brother, attended the Silver Hill mental hospital. Her anorexia continued until she weighed only ninety pounds at which time she was transferred to Bloomingdale, the Westchester Division of New York Hospital. (EDIE115) Whereas Silver Hill was fairly liberal, Bloomingdale was very strict. Near the end of her stay there, she became pregnant while on a hospital pass and had to have an abortion. (EDIE115/7).

CHUCK WEIN

After her release from the hospital, she moved to Cambridge in the autumn of 1963 and continued to see a psychiatrist. There she met Chuck Wein, who according to a friend at the time, Ed Hennessy, "had graduated a year or two before, but he had come back to bum around." (EDIE126) She prospered socially, hanging out with people like Hennessy - "a kind of deliberately outrageous dandy at a time Harvard was not producing many dandies" (EDIE126).

She left Cambridge after turning 21 and moved to New York in 1964. According to Sandy Kirkland, who hung out with Edie in her Manhattan apartment, Chuck Wein "would be plotting out the next move of their strategy - whom he was going to introduce to Edie that night, what they could do for her... Chuck had a real promoter's vision about her... He knew that she had this quality, but that she was totally disorganized and wouldn't be able to pull it off herself... so he took over her life." (EDIE176)

In January 1965, Edie met Andy Warhol at Lester Persky's apartment. She began going to the Factory regularly in March with Chuck Wein. During one of these visits, Andy put her into Vinyl, at the last minute." (L&D219-20) She had previously made a very short appearance in Warhol's film, Horse, when she and Ondine entered the Factory toward the end of the film.

Ronald Tavel (Vinyl scriptwriter):

"I don't think Andy was taken in by Chuck for one minute. What he liked was his blond hair and blue eyes." (L&D220)

Jane Holzer:

"Edie was with this guy called Chuck Wein, and he had a bad vibe, a very bad vibe. Too many drugs." (UW52)

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