I want to introduce you guys to my latest obsession. Welcome to Grey Gardens. HBO recently did their own version of this 1975 documentary, and I was hooked. I'd never heard of Grey Gardens before — 1975 pre-dates me by six years — so let me give you a brief synopsis.
Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (Big Edie) and her daughter, Edith Bouvier Beale (Little Edie), were considered the upper crust of New York society. Not to mention, they were aunt and cousin to Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.
So, I'm curious as to what events transpired to lead these women to living in complete isolation and squalor in East Hampton. Their house, called Grey Gardens for its cement garden walls and the color of the dunes, was a 28-room mansion in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods. However, by the early 70s, it looked something like this.
Their living conditions became a problem for their neighbors, especially those living down wind. The Suffolk County Health Department did several inspections, which exposed their filth to the world. The story was of particular interest because they were the relatives of Jackie O. Facing eviction, Jackie and her sister repaired the dilapidated house to meet code.
The Beales could be tragic and humorous simultaneously. They thought the documentary was "their shot." It was going to make them stars, which I guess it actually did. The documentary is considered one of the greatest of the 20th century.
The HBO remake goes beyond where the original documentary begins. It tells the story of the Beales — from riches to rags. Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore are perfection, but I still have to see the original documentary. I want to see the real Edies in action.