Edith Beale, made famous by the Maysles Bros. documentary Grey Gardens, had quite the life before her time in the Hamptons. Like any young woman of a well born family, Edith was groomed to become a member of high society. She debuted at the Pierre Hotel in 1936. As Edith grew older, her family deteriorated and life became more difficult. She spent several years at the Barbizon, a sort of dormitory for women in Manhattan (it still exists in some form today on the Upper East Side) as her parents drifted apart. Her dreams of becoming an actress faded and eventually she joined her mother in their East Hampton estate. The Beales (both named Edie) shut themselves out from the outside world and descended into poverty. After an inspection by the county, Edith’s cousin, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis repaired the home to make it livable shortly after the documentary was produced. It was in the documentary that the world got a glimpse of her trademark style–head scarves, an old-money accent and an enviable view on life.
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About The Writer
John Jannuzzi began styling figures from history and literature on his blog Textbook in September 2009. He studied at Muhlenberg College and Parsons, The New School for Design and currently works and lives in New York. He tweets like a crazy person.