Woodlawn lost her battle against cancer on Sunday, Dec. 6 in Los Angeles

By Jodi Guglielmi
Updated December 07, 2015 09:40 AM
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Credit: Jack Mitchell/Getty

Holly Woodlawn, the transgender actress who became Andy Warhol‘s muse and starred in Paul Morrissey’s 1970s film Trash, has died. She was 69 years old.

Woodlawn lost her battle against cancer on Sunday, Dec. 6 in Los Angeles, her former caretaker and friend Mariela Huerta told the Associated Press.

The actress, who was born Harold Danhakl, changed her name to Holly Woodlawn after running away from home at the age of 15 and hitchhiking her way to New York City. Her story was made famous in the first lines of the Lou Reed song Walk on the Wild Side.

“Holly came from Miami, F.L.A. Hitchhiked her way across the U.S.A. Plucked her eyebrows on the way. Shaved her legs and then he was a she. She says, ‘Hey, babe, take a walk on the wild side,’ ” went the song.

While in New York she also became on of Warhol’s drag queen “superstars” and quickly rose to fame through her work with the director.

“I felt like Elizabeth Taylor,” Woodlawn told The Guardian of her time working under Warhol. “Little did I realize that not only would there be no money, but that your star would flicker for two seconds and that was it. But it was worth it, the drugs, the parties, it was fabulous.”

But her “star” did see light again in the ’90s. In 1992, she published her memoir, A Low Life in High Heels, and appeared in numerous independent films including Billy’s Big Hollywood Kiss.

Her most recent work was in the first season of Transparent, starring as Vivian.

Woodlawn’s Trash costar Joe Dallesandro took to Facebook on Sunday to announce the death of his friend.

“I arrived to the hospice and went to Holly’s room, #403,” he wrote. “I was next to her talking and telling her all the love that was being sent her way from everyone. It was like she knew I was there.”

He continued: “I am sorry to say at 3:06pm Los Angeles time, Holly Woodlawn passed away.”

The actor also shared a recent picture of the two together on Twitter Monday morning.

“Until we meet again,” he wrote.

He also announced that he is working alongside Morrissey to plan a screening of Woodlawn’s films.

“I am working with @Paul_JMorrissey and @hwdforever to put together a screening and last goodbye to our Holly Woodlawn.”