On Jean Stein’s greatest legacy, the narrative oral history.
Edie Sedgwick was home for the holidays in California, behind the wheel of a fast car, when she barreled through a flashing red light on New Year’s Eve, 1964. G. J. Barker-Benfield, a friend, was sitting in the passenger seat; his head went through the windshield. He remembers the dumbfounded TV reports of the wreck that totaled Edie’s car: “How did two people step out of this car alive?” Others weren’t so lucky. Eerily, Edie’s brother Bobby had crashed his motorcycle around the same time that night, and he died twelve days later. Barker-Benfield had to get twenty-two stitches, while Edie emerged from the crash with only a broken knee.
Not long afterward, Geoffrey Gates ran into Edie at the former midtown Manhattan nightclub Ondine. It was early January. Edie flitted through the party, doing the twist and wearing a cast stretching from her hip to her toe. “The smile was wild … manic,” Gates remembered. “She kept getting up and dancing; one leg sheer white with only a couple of signatures on it just rooted to one spot on the floor, and the rest of her body spinning around the cast as if she were an acrobat. She still had a girl’s finishing-school appearance, but her face and actions showed that something else was coming up very fast.” Read More