Warhol Superstar Candy Darling was born on November 24, 1944, her birth name was James (or Jimmy) L. Slattery. As a young kid Candy was obsessed with Hollywood and actresses, she would impersonate them hoping to one day become one. When Candy came out to her mom about being gay she showed her how she looked as Candy, her mother was supportive and later shared her admiration for Candy’s beauty.
Darling met Warhol at an underground burlesque show in 1967 and appeared in one Warhol film titled Flesh in 1968. She also appeared in Paul Morrisey’s Women in Revolt, produced by Warhol. The film performed poorly and it was the last of Candy Darling and Warhol’s relationship. Candy Darling is referenced in Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side lyrics “Candy came from out on the island / in the backroom she was everybody’s darling.”
Candy Darling was among the first transgenders to take hormones and played an important role in bringing drag queens into popular culture. Her stage presence and look would pave the way for other popular drag queens in the following decades. Candy Darling’s influence is currently noticeable in shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Candy Darling developed cancer believed to have been caused by the hormones taken during her transition. Darling passed away on March 21, 1974.