“I'm a thousand different people. Every one is real.”
Her eyes glittered with the drunken rush of old Hollywood glamour. Her pouty red lips brought grown men to their knees. Her dramatic, self-indulgent wit made her an icon.
Her name made people smile.
She was born a male. In the 1950s, people knew her as little Jimmy Slattery, the boy with the drunken gambling father and sweet, but timid mother.
To escape her stifling blue-collar life in New York City, the future diva drowned herself in old Hollywood films. She worshipped Kim Novak. She envied Elizabeth Taylor. She dreamed of being Marilyn Monroe.
By the time she was a teenager, Candy was putting on her most stylish dresses, perfecting her makeup in the mirror, and strutting out the door to party at all the hottest gay bars in town. She changed her name and never looked back.
As a gorgeous woman with an outgoing personality and loads of confidence to boot, Candy was naturally drawn to the stage. She wanted to be beyond famous. She wanted to be a STAR.
She was starring in a burlesque show (featuring a talented, but virtually unknown actor named Robert De Niro) in 1967 when she caught the attention of pop artist Andy Warhol.
Intrigued by her addictive charisma and overwhelming sexuality, Andy asked Candy to act in his next film, Flesh.
Soon, the pair became best friends. Candy was a staple at the Warhol Factory. With the famous artist by her side, she lit up the most glitzy nightclubs in the world. She mingled with movie stars. She was the subject of several extremely famous rock songs. She was at the height of her fame.
But it was too good to last.
It wasn't long before Andy grew bored with the "chicks with dicks" theme. It was so last year, he decided. So, he ditched the transsexual. Candy went from being his BFF to being shunned by the man who had made her a superstar.
Suddenly, she was all alone. It was cruel and shocking to the 20-something performer.
Using her Warhol boost, Candy managed to keep her career afloat for a while during the early 1970s. She had small roles in low budget and even big budget films. She starred in a smattering of plays.
And then the inevitable occurred.
Candy was diagnosed with leukemia. It was the result of the hormones (mostly estrogen) she had been taking to maintain her feminine appearance during the last decade. The cancer ate away at her body with incredible speed.
Instead of being depressed, Candy saw her deadly illness as the role of a lifetime. The 29-year-old played the dying femme fatale with so much style and flamboyance, it would have made her old Hollywood idols proud. She even posed for a deathbed glamour shot.
She quite possible left the most charming death note in celebrity history:
To whom it may concern
Goodbye for Now
And just as she dreamed, Candy Darling has become a legend. She was the first drag queen to take over pop culture. Her influence can be found in movies, famous drag queens, and reality shows to this day.
With her fabulousness and cheerful glamour, she changed the world...and made it a more special one.