Candy Darling: Dreamer, Icon, Superstar

Farrar. Mar. 2024. 432p. ISBN 9781250066350. $30. BIOG
Thorough research underscores Carr’s (Fire in the Belly) compelling biography of trans actress Candy Darling (1944–74). Assigned male at birth, Darling grew up in a dysfunctional family during an era when queer people were shunned, and she found solace and inspiration studying glamorous classic Hollywood film stars on television. As an adult, she led a nomadic life (crashing on friends’ couches and in motels) while publicly playing the glamorous icon in Andy Warhol’s circle of superstars and appearing in his films Flesh and Women in Revolt. A talented actress, she also performed onstage at clubs and off-Broadway venues alongside, including in Tennessee Williams’s original Small Craft Warnings alongside the playwright himself. She met with much rejection, however, when she tried out for larger, mainstream productions. Carr smoothly interconnects background material, anecdotal stories, and interviews that illuminate Darling’s complicated journey while pursuing fame, love, and, especially, acceptance of her true self.
VERDICT A richly detailed and thoughtful portrait of Candy Darling, an innovator during an era that, although on the cusp of change, had not yet evolved far enough beyond the limited boundaries of conformity.
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