The Bouvier Cousins, Jackie & Edie

Listening to those tapes of Jackie talking on the Diane Sawyer Show last night made me realize all over again what an amazing job Drew Barrymore did playing her maternal cousin Edith Bouvier Beale, ‘little Edie’ as she was called, in HBO’s Emmy-winning Grey Gardens. Drew nailed Edie’s accent which was just like Jackie’s as my ear caught it, that is to say 10% the Hamptons-and-the-Upper-East-Side and 90% the Social Register. More fascinatingly, Edie looked very much like “Jahkleen,” though she was 12 years older than the girl who would be First Lady.

But can you see Jackie as you look at these picture of her cousin? I see Caroline too in “little Edie” who died in 2002 at 84. Can you see it above?

How about here?

I see Caroline here for sure . And here ,right?

How little we differ from our kinfolk on a genetic level. Edie and Jacqueline even had the same teeth, inward-leaning with a fair amount of exposed gum in the upper jaw. And yet one jumped through all the approved hoops and landed on her feet; married, led a dignified life and did a beautiful job raising two children. The other? Was it schizophrenia? Some kind of psychotic break it seems. There’s a story that she climbed up into a tree at Grey Gardens and and set her hair on fire. Such was her level of suffering. 

Click below to see the artistry HBO used to combine the acting of Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange as ‘big’ Edie and ‘little’ Edie with the actual footage from the 1975 Maysles brother’s documentary film on the real Bealeses. You almost can’t tell which is which.



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2 thoughts on “The Bouvier Cousins, Jackie & Edie

  1. Hi, Terry—Two notes. One, my sister knew Jackie slightly at Vassar and says her group was known as “the hairnet crowd” because that’s how they kept their coiffures [when was the last time you heard that word?] protected during the week. Two, I know someone who has a big picture book all about the Grey Gardens people and I could borrow it for you.

  2. I would love that Marcia. The hairnet crowd huh? I know Jackie agonized about her hair which she claimed was thin in places and frizzy. You can see in most pictures the fine frizz at the hairllne. the time women have spent worrying over their hair huh?

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