Candy Darling (November 24, 1944 – March 21 1974) was an American Warhol Superstar. A transsexual, 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.
Candy Darling was born James Lawrence Slattery in Forest Hills, Queens, the son of Theresa Phelan, a bookkeeper in Manhattan Jockey Club, and James (Jim) Slattery, who was described as a violent alcoholic. There are several hypotheses around the year of birth. According to a former employee Warhol, Bob Colacello, Candy was born in 1946, while IMDb has listed her year of birth in 1948. Her friend, neighbour, and posthumous editor, Jeremiah Newton, states that she was born Nov. 24, 1944.
The early years - as a man - have been spent on Massapequa Park, Long Island, where she and her mother moved after her parents divorced. Her half-brother Warren, the works of Theresa Slattery first marriage, left home for the U.S. military, with the result that Jimmy as soon as a child; Warren later denied his relationship with him.
She spent most of his childhood absorbing the impact of U.S. television and old Hollywood films, with whom she has learned to impersonate her favorite actresses such as Joan Bennett and Kim Novak. She argued that she have "learned about the mysteries of sex from a salesman in a local children's shoe store", and finally, has shown the propensity to dress as a woman, when her mother confronted her about local rumors that described her dressed as a girl attending the local gay bar called The Hayloft. In response Jimmy left the room and reappeared in full feminine attire. Her mother later said,"I knew then... that I couldn't stop Jimmy. Candy was just too beautiful and talented."
Late at night, would often take a taxi Candy (thus avoiding the attention of neighbours, she would receive if she walked) a short distance to the Long Island Rail stations on the train to Manhattan, often sat opposite the Long Island actress Joey Heatherton. . Once there, she referred to her Cape Cod-style home at 79 First Avenue in Massepequa Park as her "country house" and hung out in Greenwich Village, meeting people through the circle of Seymour Levy on Bleecker Street.
Her first assumed name was Hope Slattery. According to Bob Colacello, Candy adopted this name sometime in 1963/1964 after she began going to gay bars in Manhattan and visiting doctor on Fifth Avenue for hormone injections. Jackie Curtis said that Candy had adopted the name of a well-known Off-Broadway actress named Hope Stansbury, with whom she lived for several months in an apartment for the Caffe Cino so that she could study her. Holly Woodlawn remembers that Candy name evolved from Hope Dahl to Candy Dahland then to Candy Cane. Jeremiah Newton believes Candy took its name from the love of sweets. Jeremiah Newton believed Candy adopted her forename out of a love for sweets. In her autobiography, Woodlawn recalled that Candy had adopted the last name of Darling because a friend of hers affectionately called Candy "darling" so often that it finally stuck.
Before they actually met in 1967, Candy saw Andy Warhol at the after-hours club called The Tenth of Always. Candy was with Jackie Curtis, who invited Warhol to the play she wrote and directed called 'Glamour, Glory and Gold'. It was performed at Bastiano's Cellar Studio on Waverly Place. Taylor Mead brought Andy to see it, and then went to the Salvation club in Sheridan Square, where he was joined by Candy and Jackie by his table.
Warhol cast Candy in a short comedic scene in Flesh (1968) with Jackie Curtis and Joe Dallesandro. After Flesh, Candy 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 a consensus was reached. Candy wanted it called Blonde on a Bum Trip since she was the blonde, while Jackie and Holly told her it was more like "Bum on a Blonde Trip" — titles which were both used in the film during Candy's interview scene.
Women in Revolt was first shown at the first Los Angeles Filmex as Sex. Later it was shown as Andy Warhol's Women, an homage to George Cukor. Unable to get a distributor for the film, Warhol rented out the Cine Malibu on East 59th Street and launched the film with a celebrity preview on February 16, 1972. After the screening there was a dinner in Candy's honor at the restaurant, Le Parc Perigord on Park Avenue at 63rd Street, followed by a party at Francesco Scavullo's townhouse round the corner, where they watched TV reviews of the movie. They watched it being called "a rip-off", 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 Candy's party were D.D. Ryan, Sylvia Miles, George Plimpton, Halston, Giorgio di Sant 'Angelo and Diane and Egon von Furstenberg. Jackie Curtis stood out in the cold, along with other gate crashers. When a security guard asked, "My God, what are they giving away in there?" one of the guests responded, "Would you believe, a transvestite?"
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 Candy 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."
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 gay 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 cracking the mainstream movie circuit — by campaigning for the leading role in Myra Breckinridge (1970) — led to rejection and bitterness.
Theatre credits include two Jackie Curtis plays, Glamour, Glory and Gold (1967) and Vain Victory: The Vicissitudes of the Damned (1971), and Tennessee Williams' play, Small Craft Warnings, at the invitation of Williams himself. She also 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."
Candy died of leukemia on March 21, 1974, aged 29; she died at the Columbus Hospital division of the Cabrini Health Center. 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."
Her funeral was attended by huge crowds, including friends Pat Ast and Julie Newmar; a piano piece was played by Faith Dane; Gloria Swanson was remembered for saluting Darling's coffin. The New York Times honored her request that her obituary should appear on the front page.
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.