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Barney’s On the Beat


Film Fest Remembers Edie: A lot of people couldn’t handle the ’60s and Santa Barbara’s poor little rich girl Edie Sedgwick was one of them. Edie always ran in first gear, and in New York she hung with Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan, modeled in Vogue, appeared in Life, and was dubbed Warhol’s Girl of the Year in her early twenties. But first gear and sex with stars wasn’t enough — however, speed eventually proved too much.

Edie appeared in Andy’s underground movies, including Chelsea Girls, and was quite the toast of the town. She is said to be the inspiration for Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman” and for the 1966 album Blonde on Blonde. Dylan denies they had an affair, but the friendship ended when she found out he was secretly married.

Oddly, Edie wasn’t getting much ink in her hometown Santa Barbara News-Press. Daddy, rancher Duke Sedgwick, had powerful friends and some were running the paper. A sculptor, man of many extracurricular affairs, and macho domineering father who came from old East Coast money, Duke had a thing for his pretty daughter and tried to bed the girl, according to Jean Stein’s 1982 book Edie: American Girl. A strange yet handsome man, Duke kept his eight kids isolated on his ranch and sent two of them into mental institutions (Edie got pregnant in one and had an abortion), a third to suicide, and Edie to an OD death at 28.

With his wife’s money, he bought a Santa Ynez Valley ranch and, when he discovered oil, he bought a bigger one. While it was Edie who spent time in mental hospitals, some in the family felt Duke was the one who belonged there. Someone called him a cross between “Mr. America and General Patton.” Duke strutted around in a loincloth and tightly controlled the kids, who naturally rebelled.

Eventually, the Warhol set got tired of Edie and her drugs and she returned to Santa Barbara. Warhol then edited her out of Chelsea Girls. According to her brother, Edie claimed she was pregnant with Dylan’s child when she was injured in a motorcycle crash. Doctors sent her to a mental hospital, where she was treated for drug addiction, and required to have an abortion because doctors feared the baby had been damaged by her drug use and anorexia.

In 1971, she married Michael Post, whom she met in the Cottage Hospital psychiatric ward after being busted for drug offenses by police, according to wikipedia.org. The Web site further explained, “On the night of November 15, 1971, Sedgwick went to a fashion show at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, a segment of which was filmed for the TV show An American Family. After the fashion show, she attended a party and was supposedly attacked by a drunken guest who called her a heroin addict.” Post took her home and gave Edie her prescribed medication. When he awoke the next morning, she was dead. The coroner marked it “accident/suicide,” due to a barbiturate overdose. She was 28.

The only News-Press coverage of Edie’s flaming life I’m aware of was a one-paragraph news story of her death in a paper that had never featured its famous debutante and Radcliffe College dropout during her life.

If it sounds like a movie, it is, at least part of the story. Factory Girl, the title taken from the name of pop artist Warhol’s New York romper room, traces Edie’s skyrocketing “career” and its flameout. (The film will be screened at the Arlington as the opening night offering from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Thursday, January 25.) There was no way, the movie shows, that she could have grown up to be a valley girl riding horses in the Fiesta parade and raising kids.

Instead, she was buried in a small ceremony at Ballard. There is a modest marker. Duke Sedgwick’s main monument is the cowboy sculpture at Earl Warren Showgrounds. The Sedgwick Ranch is now a preserve owned by UCSB.

Moving On: While at the News-Press, ad manager John Leonard was one of the nicest guys in the building. But then owner Wendy McCaw fired him. Now Leonard, 61, has been hired by the Santa Barbara Daily Sound as its GM. Meanwhile, Amy Weinstein of the News-Press copy desk will be joining the copy desk of the New York Times-owned Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Joy to the World: Joy Wells was a delight to work with at the News-Press during her nearly 34 years there. As former editor Jerry Roberts’s secretary, she was a friend to all — well, apparently not all. Just before Christmas, the powers that be called her in and notified Wells that she was not sufficiently supportive of the new regime. She was effectively discharged, but, oh, management said she could apply for another job somewhere downstairs at no loss of pay. On December 30, Wells notified the paper she was out of there.

“I hereby resign from the News-Press,” she wrote, “as I can no longer justify working in an atmosphere that has become rife with suspicion, distrust, secrecy, fear, and vindictiveness and I decline the offer to apply for any alternate position.”

You can reach Barney at 965-5205 or via barney@independent.com. He also writes a Tuesday online column at independent.com and Barney’s Weekend Picks on Fridays.

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