Inspired by: The Women of Grey Gardens

People     |    June 22nd, 2016

If you haven’t seen the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens, then you are in for a treat. A strange yet weirdly inspiring treat.

Inspired by: The Women of Grey Gardens on

Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and Edith Bouvier Beale are the mother-daughter ‘stars’ of the Maysles’ brother iconic film. Known to all as “Big Edie” and “Little Edie,” they were former society women whose claim to fame was their relation to Jackie Kennedy Onassis, their niece and first cousin. For 50 years, Big Edie lived in the 28-room East Hampton mansion known as Grey Gardens. Some 20 plus years after Little Edie had moved in to care for her mother, their funds had dwindled and the once grand house had fallen into ruin.

Little Edie and Big Edie-Everett Collection

The Maysles brothers were initially sent to the estate as part of a documentary on Jackie O’s younger sister, Lee Radziwill. Upon meeting the Edies and filmmakers changed their story and instead focused on the strange relationship between the inseparable Beale women and their delusion surrounding their decaying mansion.


Living amongst an infestation of fleas, cats, raccoons, garbage and decay, the women continue to reminisce on their society days and missed opportunities to be a great singer (Big Edie) and renowned dancer (Little Edie.) Amidst singing outbursts, strange proclamations of what ‘could have been’ and some strikingly strange attire, Big Edie and Little Edie draw you into their world and left me curious to know more. (And start wearing more head scarves.)



The film is sad, hilarious, bizarre, rare and mesmerizing. And I recommend adding it to your summer watch list!

“Mother wanted me to come out in a kimono so we had quite a fight.”

Follow up the documentary with the 2009 HBO film starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange, then pop over to Bill Hader and Fred Armisen’s spoof in Documentary Now.

Has anyone else been sucked into the Grey Gardens story?


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