One of society’s instant castoffs she was not born rich and slumming it the way Brigid Polk or Edie did when working with Warhol. She was born at the bottom and worked her way up to somewhere in the middle by totally reinventing herself. Let’s face it if you were born with the name Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl wouldn’t you want to change it? How she came to the name Holly Woodlawn is difficult to determine because she told so many different stories about it herself.
Holly Woodlawn had a brief run of it with Trash bring the highlight. Supposedly in 1970 the Academy contacted Holly to tell her that George Cukor was heading a campaign to get her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for the film though of course ultimately nothing came of it.
By the time Women In Revolt was released the following year the shtick had already worn thin. Holly Woodlawn spent the rest of her life poor and ignored back at the bottom like so many other Warhol casualties of the era.
Of the many descriptions I’ve heard about her the one I like best is imagine William Demarest dressed like Jean Harlow but doing nothing to pretend to be Jean Harlow. Truth be told it is probably for the Lou Reed song she inspired Walk On The Wild Side that she will be remembered. But there are moments in Trash when she captures the essence of what it meant to be in the Warhol coterie if you were not the star and it’s what makes her unique. Her banality was pervasive and her embrace of it feels quite tragic. In that way she leaves her mark on the bloody carcass of the first generation of New York American independent film.