Holly Woodlawn, Inspiration for Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the Wild Side,’ Dies
Holly Woodlawn, the flamboyant figure who inspired Lou Reed's best-known solo hit, has died after a battle with cancer. She was 69.
A pioneering trans star who was mentioned by name in the first verse of Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side," Woodlawn was born Harold Danhakl in Florida before changing her name and becoming part of the artists and outcasts that made up Andy Warhol's Factory in the '60s. Reed painted a vivid picture of that journey: "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.'"
They presumably crossed paths while a part of the scene created by Warhol, who was also an early sponsor of the Velvet Underground, Reed's breakthrough band. But Woodlawn later told The Guardian that she didn't actually meet until well after the David Bowie-produced "Walk on the Wild Side" became Reed's only U.S. Top 20 hit in 1972.
By then, Warhol had already cast Holly Woodlawn in his 1970 film Trash, creating a role so inspiring that director George Cukor reportedly campaigned on her behalf for an Oscar nomination. Woodlawn later appeared in 1971's Women in Revolt, in the video for Madonna's 1992 song "Deeper and Deeper," 1998's Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss and in Amazon's Transparent.
She also worked as a cabaret performer. Woodlawn's death was confirmed by the Associated Press.
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