Holly Woodlawn, a transgender actress in Andy Warhol’s Factory and the inspiration behind the opening verse of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” passed away Sunday following a battle with cancer. She was 69. Woodlawn first discovered she had cancer in August and was since transferred to an assisted-living facility in Los Angeles, where she died, the BBC reports.
Born Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl in Puerto Rico in 1946, Woodlawn adopted her name from Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s main character Holly Golightly as well as an I Love Lucy episode where Lucille Ball takes a subway to Woodlawn, New York. According to Woodlawn’s biography, she left her home in Miami Beach when she was still in her teens and hitchhiked to New York.
The 16-year-old’s journey from Florida to New York was immortalized in song when Reed sang in 1972, “Holly came from Miami F-L-A / Hitchhiked her way across the U.S.A. / Plucked her eyebrows on the way / Shaved her legs and then he was a she / She says, ‘Hey, babe, take a walk on the wild side.'”
As a member of Warhol’s Factory, Woodlawn also appeared in a pair of the artist’s films – 1970’s Trash and 1972’s Women in Revolt – alongside fellow Factory stars Joe Dallesandro, Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling, who also served as inspiration for “Walk on the Wild Side.” (Darling was also the basis of Velvet Underground’s “Candy Says.”)
“I arrived to the hospice and went to Holly’s room, #403. I was next to her talking and telling her all the love that was being sent her way from everyone. It was like she knew I was there,” Dallesandro wrote on Facebook after Woodlawn passed away.
Recently, Woodlawn appeared in the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning series Transparent, the story of a patriarch of a Los Angeles family who transitions to female.