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Andy Warhol
Courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service
August 6, 1928 - February 23, 1987
     Andy was small town boy, turned legendary icon, who rubbed elbows with movie stars, rock stars, designers, artists, CEO’s, and heads of state. Also he celebrated his avant garde status with parties, galas, interviews, art openings and spent his evenings at chic clubs and restaurants.
                 In 1965, he started making films that featured nudity, profanity and boredom; topics that were quite risque for the average person at that era. He was best known, however, for enshrining everyday images from soup cans to photos of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, as high art in the form of repetitious silk screen reproductions. Andy’s preoccupation with popularity led to his theory that in the future, everybody would be famous for at least 15 minutes.
                 Andy Warhola arrived in New York from Bethel Park, Pennsylvania (a small town outside Pittsburgh) in 1949. His lack of finances forced him from time to time, to share apartments with friends until he was able to get his art career going.  Andy’s mother suddenly appeared in New York  and they moved in together. She remained with him for many years until she suffered a stroke. Andy was unable to give her the care she needed and she then returned to Bethel Park to live with her other sons.
                    In 1972, she died in a nursing home. Perhaps it was his aversion to death or because he geniunely missed his mother, Andy would respond in a odd way whenever asked about his mother.  He would always reply, “Oh fine.” This went on for years.

     As finances improved and Andy’s art became famous, he moved into a loft on 33 Union Square West, in which he called "The Factory.” "The Factory” was a place where his art could grow. There he would make movies using “characters.” These "characters" were found in the back corners of Max’s Kansas City, a local hangout for those who wanted to be in his films.   Including the psycho that shot him in 1968.
Andy showing off his "Badge of Courage" wounds from Valeria for photographer Richard Avedon

     Valeria Solanis, 29, who was the founder of S.C.U.M. (Society for Cutting Up Men) had put an ad for her organization in a local newspaper. After reading the ad, he thought it was a joke and immediately hired her for one of his films.  He thought she'd be perfect for his film entitled, “I, a Man.” Valeria was not prepared to do the film for nothing. She wanted something in return for efforts. She wanted Andy to make a movie from a script she had written. When Andy declined, she shot him, firing two bullets into his chest and abdomen as he spoke on the phone.
     
Andy kisses John Lennon at a club.
Ironically they are both shot in the chest by crazed people.
One lives and well you know the rest of the story....
 In 1969, after surviving his brush with death, Andy decided to temporarily stop making movies and instead start a magazine. The magazine’s objective was to get stars to talk candidly about anything, and he would print their words unedited. This low budget magazine was called inter/VIEW. The magazine achieved two things for Andy: an opportunity to expand his creativity and it kept him from fading into sixties history by meeting creative new people.

    Andy's personal life was filled with paranoid thoughts and fears of all kinds.  Fears of hospitals, disease, death but most of going broke.  Any headache or freckle was always a possible brain or skin cancer. In contrast when he was seriously ill, he would rarely mention it to friends and only see a doctor as a last resort.  For example, he once had a  lump in his neck. He worried and worried thinking the worst and  that he was terminally sick. When the doctors finally examined him, the tumor was found to be benign. Later it would be an episode with a sick gallbladder that he procrastinates seeing a doctor. For once perhaps, his gut feelings were really a premonition to his early demise.

     On Saturday, February 14, 1987, he went to Dr. Karen Burke for a collagen treatment. During his visit he complained of pains in his gallbladder. The next day he stayed in bed all day and the pain finally went away. Monday, Dr. Burke called Andy to see how he was doing, again he was experiencing sharp pains. His doctor suggested he see his regular doctor, Dr. Denton Cox. This was a huge problem for Andy for two reasons. First of all, he had an overwhelming fear the something was wrong and/or something could go wrong.  Second, that Tuesday, he had to make a “celebrity appearance” at a Japanese fashion show. While he was there he was in severe pain all night. Finally at 6:30 am he took a painkiller and a sleeping pill which enabled him to sleep through the night and past Wednesday. Thursday, at 9am Andy answered the phone, it was his secretary. He was breathing heavily and informed her that Dr. Cox had recommended that he go to “the place” to have “it” done. Andy was petrified of hospitals and any surgical procedures. He was so phobic that he couldn't bring himself to say the words. But he needed to face reality, If he didn't have the operation he would surely die.

     On Friday, February 20th he was admitted to New York Hospital as an ambulatory emergency patient. The surgery to remove his gallbladder was to be performed the next day. After it was removed he appeared to be recovering well from the procedure. He watched television and made phone calls to friends. But something went horribly wrong and by Sunday he was dead.
 Apparently his private nurse did not detect the malfunctioning IV, over hydrating him, which caused him to drown in his own fluids.  She reported that she had looked in on him around 3:00 am and he seemed okay. One symptom for over hydration is a very pale complexion. But as we all know Andy was no bronze god and the nurse didn't think anything was wrong. She did say that if it had been any other patient she would have been alarmed.
 He had two services a quiet one for family and a huge one for his friends which seemed like a day time Studio 54.
Yoko Ono, despite the fact that Andy could not stand her, eulogized him.
St. John the Baptist Catholic Cemetery              
Connor Road
Bethel Park, Pennsylvania    
 
From I-70 to Rt. 19 (Washington Road) make a right on Connor Rd and you will soon see the cemetery on your right side. Enter and drive up the hill, his tombstone is up on the hill to your right clearly visible from the road
Andy's Art

Stamps available from the U.S. Postal Service