He won a ‘Most Beautiful Baby’ contest - but, because of a mistake by his mother, as a girl. For a while he ran a Kim Novak Fan Club. When he was 17, his mother confronted him with the rumors that he had been seen in a local gay bar in drag. He left the room and returned en femme.
Her first drag name was Hope Slattery, and then Hope Dahl, Candy Dahl, Candy Cane. By the age of twenty, James had become Candy Darling and moved to Greenwich Village. Through Jackie Curtis, (then 15) who wrote a part for her in Glamour, Glory and Gold, she was introduced to Andy Warhol, and she and Jackie had a small roles in Flesh, 1968, babbling on about glamour advertisements and other such topics while Joe Dallesandro is being blown by an old girl friend.
With Jackie and Holly Woodlawn, she also appeared in Paul Morrissey/Andy Warhol’s Women in Revolt, 1972 – sometimes referred to as Blonde on a Bum Trip, in reference to Candy’s character.
She was immortalized by the Rolling Stones in “Citadel” on Their Satanic Majesties Request: “Candy and Taffy, hope we both are well/Please come see me in the citadel”, and in two Lou Reed songs, Candy Says: “Candy says I've come to hate my body/ and all that it requires in this world”; and Walk on the Wild Side: “Candy came from out on the Island/ In the backroom she was everybody's darlin'”.
She also appeared in Jackie Curtis plays: Heaven Grand in Amber Orbit, 1969, and Vain Victory: The Vicissitudes of the Damned, 1971. She was in Tennessee William's play Small Craft Warnings after impressing Tennessee at his birthday party.
She played minor parts in major films with Jane Fonda (Klute, 1971) and Sophia Loren (La Mortadella, 1972) . Her best role was as Karen in Some of My Best Friends Are ..., 1971 which features a group of sad people in a mafia-run gay bar, on Christmas Eve. She (and other transy actors) campaigned without success to play the lead in Myra Breckinridge, 1970. She was also in the films: Brand X, 1970, Der Tod der Maria Malibran, 1972, Silent Night, Bloody Night, 1974.
See clips from her films here.
She died in 1974, some say as a side effect of the particular hormones that she was taking; others say of leukemia.
Transgender artist Greer Lankton made a bust of Candy in 1995.
The 1996 film I Shot Andy Warhol, although mainly about Valerie Solanas is in effect also a biography of Candy Darling, played remarkably by tough-guy actor, Stephen Dorff. It is co-written by Candy’s friend, Jeremiah Newton.
The cover of the CD I am a Bird Now, 2005, by Antony Hegarty and the Johnsons, is a photograph by Peter Hujar of Candy Darling on her deathbed.
- Candy Darling. Candy Darling. Madras: Hanuman Books 144 pp 1992. Her diaries.
- Mary Harron (dir & scr). I Shot Andy Warhol. Scr: Danile Minahan & Jeremiah Newton, Lili Taylor as Valerie Solanas, Jared Harris as Andy Warhol, Stephen Dorff as Candy Darling. US 103 mins 1996.
- Candy Darling, edited by Francesca Passalacqua & D.E. Hardy. My Face for the World to See: The Diaries, Letters, and Drawings of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar. Honolulu: Hardy Marks Publications 127 pp 1997.
- Jeremiah Newton. www.candydarlingsuperstar.com.
- Sean David. “Candy Darling” http://seandavidtg.tripod.com/candy-tribute.html.
- James Rasin (dir) Beautiful Darling, with Candy Darling, Holly Woodlawn, Andy Warhol, Paul Morrisey. US 2009.
Rachel Harlow also attempted to play the lead in Myra Brekinridge.
Sometimes her birthdate is given as 1946 or 1948.
Apparently Candy never did electrolysis.