Jackie Kennedy’s Cousin Little Edie Beale Lived Isolated for 25 Years in Crumbling House with 75 Cats and Fleas
Edith Bouvier Beale popularly known as Little Edie made the rounds in the '60s and '70s, while living in the dilapidated mansion "Grey Gardens" for 25 years. The house oozed with neglect, fleas and dirt.
Little Edie lived in the wretched mansion with her mother, Edith Ewing Beale known as "Big Edie," before she died. Continue reading to know more about the surprising story of Little Edie and her mom.
A model and socialite, little Edie was the cousin of the former first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She was born into affluence on November 7, 1917, in New York, and enjoyed a lifestyle that bounced between Manhattan and the Hamptons.
In the early 1920s, little Edie's father moved his family to the popular Grey Gardens, which consisted of 28 rooms and water views. The family lived happily, but the happiness went down the drain a decade later.
Little Edie's dad had left her mom for a younger woman, and her parents eventually divorced, leaving Big Edie with the mansion and nothing else, but child support. To keep her family going as a single mom, Big Edie turned to her father for financial aid.
She also visited clubs and released a few albums to raise money to foot the house bills. Things went from bad to worse for the struggling mom, and she was cut off from her father's will after she got into his bad books for showing up late to her son's wedding.
Without finance to keep her and the mansion running, Big Edie's life began to fall apart. In 1952, Little Edie said goodbye to her modelling career and returned to the Grey Gardens to look after her mom.
For more than 20 years, the mother and daughter lived in the house, without much interaction with the outside world. The Grey Gardens which was a beauty to behold became a shadow of itself.
It had become a home for stray cats, racoons, rats, fleas and other pests. In 1971, a police raid discovered the level of filth and the county health department threatened the mother and child with eviction.
According to a YouTube documentary, Kennedy gave the pair money to make the house sanitary, but all efforts to keep the house clean proved abortive, and soon, the mansion returned to its former state.
In 1975, filmmakers, Albert and David Maysles got introduced to Big Edie and Little Edie, and picked an interest in their faded glamour. So, they began filming the "Grey Gardens", which was successful and eventually became a documentary classic.
In 1977, Big Edie sadly passed away, leaving Little Edie penniless. The latter was forced to sell the house two years later, however she refused buyers who mentioned tearing down the mansion and building a new structure.