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Edie Sedgwick: R.I.P.

November 17, 2008, 5:53 pm

Obit-mag.com, an online magazine devoted to death — or, as they say on the website, “What death can mean to the living and what living may have meant to the dead” — reminds us with this story by Paul Wilner that November 16 was the 37th anniversary of Edie Sedgwick’s death. She died of a lethal dose of pills and alcohol, ingested accidentally, like so many fabulous people of that drug-addled era.

Sedgwick, a society hanger on of the Factory crowd was, as you may recall, one of the few celebrities associated with Warhol who was already a celebrity in her own right. She also brought money and class to a very ambitious artist at crucial moment in his career when he had neither.

But for my money, the best thing about Sedgwick (other than that she serves as the focus the book that best evokes Warhol’s early Factory years, Jean Stein’s Edie: An American Girl) is that she may have been the inspiration for Bob Dylan’s song “Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat,” from the Blonde on Blonde Album. Even if you don’t care for the half dozen Warhol movies she starred in (which for many of us are unwatchable without some kind of chemical intervention), you’ve got to admit she made cultural contribution there.

And speaking of cultural contributions — Obit.mag seems to be defining itself in contradistinction to something we generally call “history,” but which might be the cutting edge of a new field called “Death Studies”? Just guessing.

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