Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Grey Gardens Buzz

I recently saw a promo piece for the new HBO movie, Grey Gardens, starring Drew Barrymore as Little Edie and Jessica Lange as Big Edie (pictured right - photo by Peter Strank.) I was immediately fascinated and drawn, as are countless others, to the strange lives of these two women, Edith Ewing Bouvier and her daughter, Edith Bouvier, once prominent socialites in the 1920,'s turned recluses.

Edith Bouvier and her daughter Edie Bouvier

Little Edie in her teens

Big and Little Edie in 1972

Mother and daughter, Big Edie and Little Edie, lived together in seclusion at the property know as Grey Gardens in East Hampton, N.Y. in a 28-room mansion for 54 years while the house was overrun with animals and trash, eventually falling into extreme disrepair due to lack of any upkeep. Apparently the stench from the animals was unbelievable.

Little Edie in the Living Room - 1972

Little Edie in 1972 outside Grey Gardens - you can see the sad state of the beautiful mansion

There are so many unusual facets to the Grey Gardens story and I think all of the strange twist and turns are what peaks people's interest. It certainly peaks my interest.

Big Edie in 1971 seated in the ruin

One interesting fact is connection between the Edies and Jacqueline Bouveir Kennedy Onassis; they were aunt and first cousins to Jacqueline and upon hearing of the Edies squalid living conditions in 1972, Jacqueline visited the home and paid $30,000 to have the it cleared, cleaned, and repaired. A cleaning which apparently lasted a very short time.

1971 in the front Hall

Another fascinating aspect to the Grey Gardens story is the documentary that was produced by the David and Albert Maysles in 1976 detailing this "unbelievable but true story" of Big and Little Edie. It provided an intimate and fascinating look into Big and Little Edies co-dependant and solitary lives. Here is a clip from You Tube.

Grey Gardens was sold by Little Edie to the Bradlees in 1979, two years after her mother's death. Little Edie sold it on the condition that the home would not be torn down. Mrs. Bradlee is reported to have said to Little Edie that it "just needed a coat of paint." Many had advised Mrs. Bradlee to tear the home down and rebuild as they believed that the animal stench would never leave the existing structure. Grey Gardens was not torn down but was instead carefully renovated using some of the treasure trove that Mrs. Bradlee found in the old attic space.

Grey Gardens today

Can you imagine the undertaking!!

What courage it must have take to purchase Grey Gardens. Apparently it was a phenomenal deal at the time. Whew! Labor of love.

There is a wonderful blog site devoted to all things Grey Gardens.

In 1979 when Grey Gardens was purchased by the Bradlee's

The Amazing Gardens today

The history of the magnificent gardens is a wonderful story all of it's own. I highly recommend THE MOST WONDERFUL AND THOROUGH POST detailing the history of the Grey Garden's story by Joni of Cote De Texas. I highly recommend the Cote De Texas blog. Great reading, fascinating story. Great job Joni! Get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy reading all about the story of Grey Gardens.

1 comment:

  1. Hi - thanks so much for the shout out!!!! much appreciated!!!!!!!!


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