Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dear Glenn, You'll Always be Divine

I have many obsessions. I consider lip balm, John Waters, horror movies, Baltimore, and Etsy's activity feed to be in my top 10. One of my obsessions stemmed from being a John Waters fan, and his name is Harris Glenn Milstead, but most people know him as Divine. 

John Water and Glenn

Glenn was born in Towson, Maryland and with the help of John Waters and Glenn's own determination for fame,  he became a cross-dressing icon of a generation!

Glenn in High School

Divine was Glenn's alter ego and stage name for when he did films and concerts as a female. Divine was loud in every meaning of the word from appearance to her voice! From the mid 1960's through the 80's he had a role, and sometimes the main role in several John Waters films. The most notorious was Pink Flamingos. Divine's role in this midnight movie gave her a lot of attention because of the films final scene where Divine actually eats dog feces.

Divine in Pink Flamingos

After Pink Flamingos the next big role Divine had was as Edna Turnblad in the 1988 original film, Hairspray. Divine also played a male role in the film as well as Arvin Hodgepile. When the film was turned into a musical the role of Edna Turnblad was still and is still played by a male actor. 

Divine and Travolta as Edna Turnblad

In between doing John Waters films, Divine had toured all over the world as a singer doing disco music. When Glenn toured as Divine he lived up to the loud and trashy stereotypes that his alter ego was known for.

A Greatest Hits Album

In the end, he did very well as a disco performer, but ended up doing more acting before he passed away on March 7th of 1988. 

Glenn's Resting Place in Towson

When Glenn passed away is was in a hotel room in California in the middle of the night. His cause of death was heart failure that doctors believe was set off by his sleep apnea. What is even more tragic than the death of this amazingly talented actor was knowing that later that very same day he was going to sign the contracts to be cast as a regular male role on the hit tv show, Married with Children. He was going to be cast as Uncle Otto, finally giving him the credit as a male actor that he deserved and so greatly longed for! The popularity of this show would have made Glenn and Divine household names all over the US. There's no telling what his career would have amounted to if he hadn't passed away that night. 

News paper clip after his death

If you are interested in reading about Divine there are many books out there about this amazing man! There is one called My Son Divine, which was written by his mother and another that I recommend called Not So Divine that was written by his former manager, Bernard Jay. There are also many films out there and albums too! 
A Biography by his Mother

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