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The Fabulous "Big" & "Little" Edie of Grey Garden's

Grey Gardens is a 1975 documentary film by Albert and David Maysles. The film depicts the everyday lives of two reclusive socialites, a mother and daughter both named Edith Beale, who lived at Grey Gardens, a decrepit mansion at 3 West End Road in the wealthy Georgica Pond neighborhood of East Hampton, New York. The film was screened at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, but was not entered into the main competition.

In 2010, this film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

 Edith "Big Edie" Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edith "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale were the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. The two women lived together at Grey Gardens for decades with limited funds, resulting in squalor and almost total isolation.

The house was designed by Joseph Greenleaf Thorpe in 1897, and purchased in 1923 by Phelan Beale and Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale. After Phelan left his wife, Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale lived there for decades more, over 50 years in total for each woman. The house was called Grey Gardens because of the color of the dunes, the cement garden walls, and the sea mist.[2]

In the fall of 1971 and throughout 1972, their living conditions—their house was infested by fleas, inhabited by numerous cats and raccoons, deprived of running water, and filled with garbage and decay—were exposed as the result of an article in the National Enquirer and a cover story in New York Magazine[3] after a series of inspections (which the Beales called "raids") by the Suffolk County Health Department. With the Beale women facing eviction and the razing of their home, in the summer of 1972 Jacqueline Onassis and her sister Lee Radziwill provided the necessary funds to stabilize and repair the dilapidated house so that it would meet Village codes.

Albert and David Maysles became interested in their story and received permission to film a documentary about the women, which was released in 1976 to wide critical acclaim. Their direct cinema technique left the women to tell their own stories.

"Big Edie" died in 1977 and "Little Edie" sold the house in 1979 to former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and his wife Sally Quinn. "Little Edie" died in 2002 at the age of 84.

According to a 2003 article in Town & Country, after their purchase, Bradlee and Quinn completely restored (the sale agreement forbids razing the house) the house and grounds.

 

 

posted Wed, 01/12/2011 by Charles David

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