LITTLE EDIE AFTER “GREY GARDENS”
So Major Summer 2009 kick-off continues with Part Two (click here for Part One) of my exclusive interview with Bouvier Beale Jr., first grandson of iconic Grey Gardens’ Big Edie and nephew of Little Edie – two women who loved the beach and sea as much as any dedicated Asbury Park-er.
This week exclusive only found here, Bouvier discusses the “real” Little Edie and her life post-documentary release in 1976 and her mom’s death the following year.
TBP: There has been so much fiction written and said about your family. What’s true that we do not know about Little Edie?
Bouvier: Mostly, people don’t realize how talented and smart she was. Her poetry, writings and drawings are amazing and her photographs of herself and the family are so important in showing everyone what she was like in her younger days while things were still divine at Grey Gardens. Little Edie is a fashion icon and that was because of her style and creativity when it came to picking that “costume of the day.”
My wife’s limited edition book “Edith Bouvier Beale of Grey Gardens, A Life in Pictures” (GreyGardensCollections.com) features many of Edie’s self-portraits and private family photos. There are less than 100 copies of the book available now.
TBP: What is misunderstood about Little Edie?
Bouvier: Many feel that Edie was forced to go and take care of her mother and sacrificed her own life. This is not truly the story, as she had no means of supporting herself. Big Edie was always very generous with Little Edie and paid all her bills while she lived in New York City. When the money was gone, Big Edie insisted that Little Edie come home out of necessity. Little Edie had no choice.
TBP: I hear the love you and your wife, Eva, have for Little Edie. In 1980, she came to your wedding in Montauk.
Bouvier: She was always at family weddings and funerals. I was recently watching movies of my wedding and loved seeing Edie having a great time and dancing with my father. She was always, always the life of the party.
She gave us two wedding gifts. The first was incredibly special – she sang a special song for us at the wedding, “Toujours L’Amour” (I’ll Fly With You). She also gave us a piece of family silver with a “B” engraved on it. We still enjoy the memory of the song and the gift of silver.
TBP: What was the latter part of Little Edie’s life like?
Bouvier: Few know all the places she lived after Grey Gardens – New York, Montreal and Florida and for a short period of time in California. Edie’s mother told her not to go to California because of the earthquakes, but she came in the late 1990’s and loved it. She did not experience an earth quake however she always wanted to go back to Florida. I took her back to Florida in 1997 to find an apartment. She continued to be amazing. Aunt Edie knew exactly where she wanted to be – right near the beach. I visited her in Bal Harbor frequently and took her out to “luncheon” as she called it. She was always thrilled.
TBP: By the way, how did Grey Gardens get its name? I have heard so many different stories.
Bouvier: The home was always a seaside garden and its name came from the subdued colors in the originally lush, muted-tone garden. Part of the garden – to the home’s left – was surrounded by a small brick wall to ensure seawater never got to it.
Next week, Little Edie’s connection to President Bill Clinton.
For more exclusive insight about two of our favorite ladies visit GreyGardensOnline.com. The site features tons of revealing interviews with other Grey Gardens “players” such as the grocery delivery teen seen in the documentary, Robert Beyer and David Lewis, who briefly served as Little Edie’s accompanist at Reno Sweeney. These are interviews not found anywhere else. The site also features amazingly detailed facts about Grey Gardens and brilliant quotes from Little Edie, such as:
“Jackie was twelve years younger than I, and although I was never jealous of her, I never liked her. You know what Jackie wanted? She wanted the house. Yes darling, that’s the truth, and she did everything she could to get it. Then Jackie sent her sister Lee, who I’ve always been absolutely terrified of- I think she’s a big criminal. Lee and her boyfriend came around and started to tear the house down with axes. Don’t go near any of these people for God’s sake, they’re all insane!”
“Of course the house isn’t perfectly normal. The house has to be done over. You know how hard it is to get plumbers in the autumn.”
This column is dedicated to the memory of Scott Schechter.