Transgender Actress, Warhol Muse Holly Woodlawn Dies at 69

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Holly Woodlawn

Her story was immortalized in the first lines of the Lou Reed song "Walk on the Wild Side."

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Holly Woodlawn, the transgender actress made famous by Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey in their 1970s films Trash and Women in Revolt, has died.

Woodlawn died Sunday in Los Angeles after a battle with cancer, according to her former caretaker and friend Mariela Huerta. She was 69.

Born Harold Danhakl, she took on the name Holly Woodlawn after running away from home at age 15 and hitchhiking to New York City, where she became one of Warhol's drag queen "superstars." Her story was immortalized in the first lines of the Lou Reed song "Walk on the Wild Side."

It began: "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.' "

Woodlawn explained in a 2007 interview with the British newspaper The Guardian that she didn't get to know Reed until after the song was released in 1972.

Woodlawn received critical acclaim for her film roles, but she couldn't find mainstream success. Her cult status helped her make a comeback in such 1990s indie films as Twin Falls Idaho (1999) and Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss (1998). More recently, she appeared on the Amazon Studios TV comedy Transparent.

Of her time as a Warhol superstar, Woodlawn told the Guardian: "I felt like Elizabeth Taylor! 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."

Huerta said Woodlawn had no survivors. Plans for a memorial service are pending.