I’m not sure what rock I’ve been living under, but one of my friends in San Francisco recently turned me on to Grey Gardens — the documentary about Big Edith and Little Edith Bouvier Beale – bohemian recluses and relatives of former first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onasis, who garnered the spotlight when it was revealed that they were living as recluses in a crumbling mansion.
I am totally obsessed with learning more about these mesmerizing women! They lived in squalor, their home was falling in on itself, and although the two women were living in prestigious East Hampton, their house was overrun with animals, insects and, once the documentary premiered, curious onlookers.
Little Edie Beale was a stunning woman in her youth, and in her eccentric middle age, she took to wearing head dresses and fashioning some of the most unusual outfits imaginable. Fashion designers have often drawn inspiration from Edie’s fashion forwardness.
Perhaps the most endearing aspect of the Beale ladies is the love/hate relationship between mother and daughter. Despite it all, these two women were totally devoted to and dependent on each other, and this dynamic was completely unwavering.
I haven’t actually seen Grey Gardens yet, I’m waiting on my copy to arrive from Amazon. I went on a buying spree about all things Grey Gardens, buying two DVDs and a book. The first to arrive was the follow on documentary created by the Maysles brothers who filmed the original “Grey Gardens.” This movie, titled “The Beales of Grey Gardens,” is comprised of footage that wasn’t used in the original, but nonetheless, absolutely fascinating. I can’t wait for my “Grey Gardens” DVD to arrive. Albert Maysles, one of the original documentarians, said in the opening of the “Beales of Grey Gardens” film that this resurrected footage brings these two ladies back to life. It most certainly does, and what a life they had!
You have to wonder after all these years (the original was filmed in 1976), what has become of the rambling dilapidated mansion known as Grey Gardens. I found a news clip on You Tube that returns to Grey Gardens on the 30th anniversary of the film’s debut.
Join the official fan site at www.greygardens.com.
Read a fascinating article by New York Magazine.