May 28, 1918|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||October 24, 1984
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Lymphoma and diabetes|
|Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Silvio Gigante (m. 1946–53)|
Edith "Edie" Massey (May 28, 1918 – October 24, 1984) was an American actress and singer. Massey was best known for her appearances in a series of movies by director John Waters. She is considered one of the Dreamlanders, Waters's stable of regular cast and crew members.
Born in New York City, Massey was one of ten children. According the Massey's brother Morris, their parents "just threw up their hands one day, dropped off those who couldn't fend for themselves at a local orphanage or 'home,' and disappeared". In the 1975 documentary Love Letter to Edie, Massey said she was raised in an orphanage and eventually was placed in a foster home. Her foster family members were cruel to her and, as a teenager, she ran away to Hollywood. In the documentary Divine Waters (1981), Massey explained that she was "born in New York, but raised in Denver, Colorado....I was movie crazy, so I went to California to try and get in the movies, but instead I became a barmaid."
In 1946, Massey married a soldier, Silvio Gigante, in Reno, leaving him about five years later because she got "restless". However, in Divine Waters, Massey said that the marriage lasted "about seven years. It was my fault; I left him for another man, so I blame myself for it."
She worked in several odd jobs through the years, and she eventually relocated to Baltimore, Maryland where she worked as a barmaid at Pete's Hotel. Filmmaker John Waters met Massey while she was working at Pete's Hotel in 1969 and offered her a role as herself in the film Multiple Maniacs. In the early 1970s, she quit her job at Pete's and opened a thrift store called Edith's Shopping Bag in the Fell's Point area of Baltimore.
Collaboration with John Waters
Massey gained a cult following from her appearances in five films directed by John Waters: Multiple Maniacs (1970), in which she appeared as herself and, in a dream sequence, as the Virgin Mary; Pink Flamingos (1972), playing Divine's egg-loving mother, Edie; Female Trouble (1974), as Aunt Ida; Desperate Living (1977), as the evil Queen Carlotta of Mortville; and in her final role in a Waters film, Polyester (1981), as Cuddles Kovinsky.
Later career and death
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Massey capitalized on the infamy of Waters's films by touring as the lead singer of a punk band, Edie and the Eggs. She also posed for a series of greeting cards. Later, when the Baltimore winters became too much for her to endure, she moved to Venice, California, where she opened another thrift store with the money she earned from acting in Waters's films. In 1981, she was featured in John Mellencamp's music video for "This Time". The year she died, Massey starred in her final film Mutants in Paradise. She read for a role in Paul Bartel's Western parody Lust in the Dust (1985) opposite longtime co-star Divine, but actress Nedra Volz was cast instead.
In 1982, Massey recorded a cover of The Four Seasons' "Big Girls Don't Cry" that was included on the compilation albums The Rhino Brothers Present the World's Worst Records and A Date With John Waters.
Massey died of complications of lymphoma and diabetes on October 24, 1984 in Los Angeles. Her body was cremated, and her ashes were scattered in the Garden of Roses at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
In popular culture
- Director Robert Maier made a documentary short about her in 1975 titled Love Letter to Edie. There is a director's authorized version re-mastered from his original 16mm color film footage.
- Massey appeared in John Cougar Mellencamp's music video "This Time", as his true love after a string of beautiful floozies. She was on the album cover of his 1980 album Nothin' Matters and What If It Did.
- A sample of Edith Massey's voice as "Aunt Ida" from the film Female Trouble appears in the track "The Days of Swine and Roses", on the album Confessions of a Knife... by the band My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult.
- Dialogue from Female Trouble between Edith Massey's "Aunt Ida" character and Micheal Potter's "Gator", in which Aunt Ida tries to convince Gator to become a homosexual, was used as the intro to the 1989 song "I Don't Wanna Be a Homosexual" by the band Sloppy Seconds.
|1970||Multiple Maniacs||Edith/Virgin Mary|
|1974||Female Trouble||Aunt Ida|
|1975||Love Letter to Edie||Herself|
|1976||Edith's Shopping Bag||Herself|
|1977||Desperate Living||Queen Carlotta|
|1983||My Breakfast with Blassie||Herself||Uncredited|
|1984||Mutants in Paradise||Dr. Durchfall|
|2000||In Bad Taste||Herself||Archival footage|
|2005||Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream||Herself||Archival footage|
|2013||I Am Divine||Herself||Archival footage|
- Holden, Stephen (March 31, 2000). "Divine Trash (1998) FILM REVIEW; How a Fan of the Wicked Witch Became a Succes de Scandale". The New York Times.
- Lordo, Ann Lo (June 3, 1978). "Edith Massey Tries Her Hand At Singing Punk Rock". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. p. 12A. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
- Willis, John A. (1985). Screen World (Crown Publishers) 36: 240.
- Maier, Robert. "Low Budget Hell: Making Underground Movies with John Waters". Edith Massey’s Long-lost Brother, the College Professor. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
- Waters, John (2005) . Shock Value: A Tasteful Book About Bad Taste. Forward by Simon Doonan (3 ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Running Press. p. 188. ISBN 978-1-56025-698-4.
- "Edith: Queen of Fells Point". Evening Magazine. 1978. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iauNcfvntsA. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
- "This Time screen test". YouTube.
- Lust in the Dust DVD Special Features, including Edith Massey audition tape
- "Edith Massey Lust in the Dust screen test". YouTube.
- "Edith Massey – "Big Girls Don't Cry" / "Punks, Get Off The Grass"". discogs.com. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
- "John Waters – A Date with John Waters". AllMusic. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
- "Veteran actress dies at 66". Lodi News-Sentinel. October 25, 1984. p. 20. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
- Film Review (Orpheus Pub.) (675-677): 84. 2006.
- Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland & Company Incorporated Pub. p. 218. ISBN 0-786-40983-5.
- Maier, Robert (April 4, 2014). "Edith Massey, “Edie the Egg Lady” the Underground Movie Star: Her Life as an Orphan". robertmaier.us. Retrieved October 14, 2014.