Originally born Harris Glen Milstead just after the end of WWII, Baltimore’s most outrageous resident eventually became the international icon of bad taste cinema, as the always shocking and highly entertaining transvestite performer, Divine.
Milstead met maverick film director & good friend, John Waters, at high school in Baltimore, and the two combined to star in and direct several ultra low budget, taboo breaking cult films of the early 1970s. Their first efforts included Roman Candles (1966), Eat Your Makeup (1968) and Mondo Trasho (1969)….however, their most infamous work together was the amazing Pink Flamingos (1972), in which Divine starred as “Babs Johnson”, the “filthiest person alive” living in a pink trailer with her egg-eating grandmother, chicken-loving son and voyeuristic daughter.
Divine also starred as career criminal Dawn Davenport in Female Trouble (1974), as bored housewife Francine Fishpaw in Polyester (1981), as outlaw gal Rosie Velez in Lust in the Dust (1984) and in Waters’ loving (but still slightly bizarre) salute to teen dance TV shows as Ricki Lake’s mother in the superb Hairspray (1988).
Milstead’s health deteriorated due to to his obese frame, and he passed away in his sleep from a combination of heart attack and apnea in 1988.
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