Candy came from out on the island,
In the backroom she was everybody's darling,
But she never lost her head
Even when she was giving head
She sayes, hey baby, take a walk on the wild side….
-- Lou Reed
Candy Darling, the New York legend and transgender actress, would’ve turned 71 today. After being diagnosed with cancer, resulting from the hormone injections of the time, she later died at the young age of 29.
Gloria Swanson reportedly saluted Candy at her funeral, where many notables, including Sylvia Miles, Eric Emerson, Jane Holzer and Peter Allen were also present, while Faith Dane played the piano.
Related | The 15 Greatest Transgender Models
In honor of the queen’s birthday, let’s take a look at five iconic moments from Candy Darling’s life.
1. Glamour, Glory and Gold (1967)
Jackie Curtis wrote the play at 19 and it premiered at New York’s Bastiano’s Cellar Studio on Waverly Place. Candy played Nona Noonan, the star and goddess of the show, which also featured a young Robert DeNiro playing six different parts. Darling and Warhol met that night for the first time immediately following the show at the club Salvation, then located at Sheridan Square.
2. "Candy Says" by The Velvet Underground (1968)
How can you not associate Candy with The Velvet Underground? She was the subject of the song “Candy Says” and a major influence for Lou Reed.
3. Some of My Best Friends Are... (1971)
Her first non-campy comedic role, Some of My Best Friends Are… takes place on Christmas Eve as a group of gay men and lesbians reminisce on their lives and relationships at Greenwich Village’s Blue Jay Bar following the Stonewall riots. Somehow, it’s not available on DVD, but you can watch it online on YouTube!
4. Andy Warhol and Paul Morrisey’s Women in Revolt (1971)
Apart from being one of the final films in which Warhol himself starred, Women in Revolt has a knockout performance by Candy Darling, playing a wealthy socialite. Also starring Holly Woodlawn and Jackie Curtis, Women in Revolt was a satirical response to the women’s liberation movement. It's important to note that the film was also scored by the masterful John Cale.
5. Tennessee Williams’s off-Broadway play Small Craft Warnings (1972)
The famed playwright cordially invited Candy Darling himself to join the production of Small Craft Warnings in 1972 at Truck and Warehouse Theater. Directed by Richard Altman, Darling played the role of Violet, a “trampy” girl who’s desired by the other male characters.
The transgender actress and artist’s muse would forever be remembered as an international legend following her death in 1974. For more on Candy, check out Beautiful Darling, a documentary exclusively focusing on her life narrated by Chloë Sevigny. It’s available to watch on YouTube in its entirety.
Happy birthday, Candy! We love you.