On April 22, 1976 college journalist Walter Newkirk traveled to Grey Gardens, the Beale estate on Long Island, to interview Edie Beale about the movie documentary "Grey Gardens," for his college newspaper, The Rutgers Daily Targum.
That taped interview is now available as a CD, "Little Edie Live! A Visit to Grey Gardens." Running time is 72 minutes. It's distributed on-demand by CreateSpace and can be found on Amazon.com. Price is $14.99.
The interview was preserved using a hand held portable cassette tape recorder. The tape was transferred to CD.
During the interview, Edie talked about her life, the department of health raid, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Lee Radziwill, Peter Beard, her brothers Phelan and Bouvier, Spanish music, and assorted other topics, according to Newkirk. Mother Edith Beale is heard in the background.
(Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson won 2007 Tony Awards for playing the witchy, beguiling daughter and mother in the musical, Grey Gardens.) The interview was conducted shortly after the release of the film. Newkirk and Beale kept in touch for several years, by phone and by mail. The estate was sold, Beale moved to New York and then Florida. She died in January 2002. She would have been 90 years old on Nov. 7.
A reproduction of the original Daily Targum print interview with Edie will appear in the Newkirk book "memoraBEALEia: A Private Scrapbook About Edie Beale of Grey Gardens," to be released on Amazon.com in spring 2008. The book will also include letters and photos, Newkirk told Playbill.com.
Middle-aged Edie Beale and her mother Edith Bouvier Beale came to wide public recognition in 1975 with the startling documentary, "Grey Gardens," by filmmakers David and Albert Maysles. In the 1970s, the respective cousin and aunt of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis — former society ladies — were living in a cat-infested, filthy, crumbling estate called Grey Gardens in East Hampton on Long Island. The film inspired a Broadway musical by Doug Wright, Michael Korie and Scott Frankel, Grey Gardens, which fictionalized the back story and decline of the women.
A feature film about the women is in the works, but it doesn't draw from the musical.
Walter Newkirk is the founder of Walter Newkirk Public Relations LLC. A graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, he worked on publicity for the film "Roseland," with director James Ivory and producer Ismael Merchant, and now primarily books interviews with authors for satellite TV tours.
He is currently contracted by agencies to book television interviews for many best-selling books, including titles by Martha Stewart, Amy Tan, Tom Clancy, and Patricia Cornwell.
Newkirk was once a publicist for The Whole Theatre in Montclair, NJ, where Academy Award winning actress Olympia Dukakis was the artistic director.
As a college journalist, Newkirk interviewed Edith Bouvier Beale, the actors Divine and Jon Voight, as well as Pat Loud, who appeared in the first national reality PBS TV series in 1973, "An American Family." He currently lives in Chatham, NJ.