‘Beautiful Darling' Candy, Born as James

"Ms. Darling would never have imagined how many people would miss her," said Jeremiah Newton, executor of Candy Darling's estate. At her funeral, "a stretch limousine pulled up to Frank E. Campbell’s just as her flower-bedecked casket was being carried out, and a tinted window rolled down. Its passenger, Gloria Swanson, saluted the coffin with a gloved hand."

"Beautiful Darling," which opened Friday at the West End Cinema (2301 M St. N.W.), is a documentary about actress Candy Darling, born James Slattery. She cut a swath through the legendary Factory of Andy Warhol as a sultry, talented, gorgeous blonde.

The movie of Darling's life is so convincing that she was indeed a woman. Newton agreed. "I never treated her as I would treat a man. I accepted her for who and what she was."

Molded into a combination of Marilyn Monroe and Kim Novak, Darling perfected the art of self creation but died an early death. In 1974, she died of cancer at the age of 29. Her motto lives on: “Be true to yourself.”

The documentary debuted more than three decades after her death.

“After 37 years, I feel that I kept my promise and spearheaded the creation of a documentary that will enable people to understand who Candy was and how talented she was," Newton said. "She will be remembered by a new generation.”

Darling and Newton were both part of the Warhol culture, particularly the scene at the Factory, the legendary pop artist's New York studio in the 1960s.

“Andy Warhol was a wonderful man, and Candy felt the same way about him. I felt honored to visit him at the Factory where I was always made to feel welcome," Newton said. "After Candy's death, I would visit several times a year and Andy was always happy to see me. We never talked about Candy -- the past -- [we] always discussed the future."

But Warhol was known for changing his inner circle of friends as the times changed, even before Darling died. "Things were changing for him and for her. That's just the way it was and she accepted that," Newton said. "The press didn't. I don't see him as a jerk."

Shortly before Darling's death, Newton told his friend that one day he would do something "so she would be remembered," he recalled. "I am not possessed by my friend. I merely kept my word. People treated her badly, and I saw how it bothered her and I knew that someday I would do something, but exactly what was the question.”

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