Ivy Nicholson, Model and Warhol Factory Star, Dies at 88

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She blazed done 1950s Europe arsenic a apical manner exemplary and past became a portion of the 1960s Warhol assemblage successful New York earlier falling connected hard times.

Ivy Nicholson successful  1971. She appeared connected  the screen  of apical  manner  magazines successful  her 20s. In New York she recovered  a spot  successful  Andy Warhol’s Factory.
Credit...Gerard Malanga

John Leland

Nov. 4, 2021, 6:38 p.m. ET

Ivy Nicholson was a working-class miss from New York City who lit up the 1950s arsenic 1 of Europe’s apical manner models, joined a French count, posed topless for Salvador Dali and became 1 of the archetypal “superstars” successful Andy Warhol’s Factory. It was a flashbulb beingness built connected bravado and sheer magnetism.

But it was not a coagulated life, and erstwhile the 1960s ended and the large checks stopped coming, she was near connected her own. She spent her past decades successful oregon adjacent poverty, sometimes homeless, telling anyone who would perceive that she was connected her mode backmost up.

Ms. Nicholson died connected Oct. 25 astatine an assisted surviving installation successful Bellflower, Calif., extracurricular Los Angeles. She was 88. Her lad Sean Bolger confirmed her death, saying that she had precocious been weakened by seizures.

To her past days, Ms. Nicholson kept her hairsbreadth dyed blonde and a well-traveled publication of her mag clippings astatine her side, said Taryn Gould, who has been filming a documentary movie astir Ms. Nicholson for the past decade.

“She had an unimaginably glamorous beingness and an highly hard life,” Ms. Gould said. “But she was ever capable to judge that determination was thing bully coming.”

In her 20s Ms. Nicholson appeared connected the covers of Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Bazaar and different magazines. She built a reputation: fearlessly inventing characters and looks for her shoots, but often arriving hours precocious to the workplace and refusing to airs until idiosyncratic brought foie gras oregon met immoderate different demand.

When Howard Hawks flew her to Egypt successful 1954 for a relation successful his epic movie “Land of the Pharaohs,” she objected to the studio’s multiyear contract. So, arsenic she aboriginal told the story, she spot 1 of the actors to get retired of the deal. Her replacement was Joan Collins.

“That was Ivy,” said Conrad Ventur, a lensman who became a person in Ms. Nicholson’s past decade. “She couldn’t conscionable say, ‘This isn’t moving for me.’

“It was an illustration of however utmost she could be. She went from modeling successful France to astir becoming a large movie prima to blowing it close away.”

Ivy Martha Nicholson was calved connected Feb. 22, 1933, successful Manhattan and grew up successful the Cypress Hills vicinity of Brooklyn and successful Harlem, the youngest of 3 children of Harry and Nora (Bolger) Nicholson. Her parent worked arsenic a nanny. Her begetter worked variously arsenic an technologist and a cabdriver and expected Ivy to go a secretary.

She had different plans.

After winning the rubric of Miss Color Rinse successful a quality contest, she dropped retired of precocious schoolhouse astatine 16 and moved to a friend’s level successful Midtown Manhattan, hoping to interruption into the modeling world, she told Catherine Matta, her collaborator connected an unfinished memoir.

But modeling jobs eluded her, truthful she answered an advertisement seeking nightclub dancers successful Florida, though she was underage. She told Ms. Matta that a patron astatine the nine befriended her and helped her get to Paris, wherever she fibbed her mode onto the screen of Elle by claiming that she was astir to beryllium connected the screen of American Vogue.

“One achromatic lie,” she says successful a teaser for the documentary, “made maine a 10-year career.”


Credit...Nat Farbman/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Shutterstock

In 1958, astatine Café de Flore successful Paris, she met the Count Regis de Poleon, from a noble household successful southwest France. They married, had a son, Darius, and divorced soon after. Ms. Nicholson would tote the lad to modeling shoots.

She went connected to get small parts in Italian movies and by her relationship became obsessed with the histrion Anthony Perkins. When helium did not instrumentality her affections, she aboriginal said, she slit her wrists. The termination effort outgo her a relation successful Federico Fellini’s “8½,” according to her unfinished memoir.

It was portion she was successful Europe that she was sketched by Dali.

Ms. Nicholson moved distant from modeling successful the aboriginal 1960s, moving much arsenic a lensman and coating portraits, lines of enactment that were acold little lucrative. She had different child, Sean Bolger, with a lensman named Larry Shaw.

With small money, she moved to New York, surviving successful a run-down edifice successful Greenwich Village. Around this clip she met Andy Warhol, either astatine a enactment oregon astatine his loft, the Silver Factory, according to varying accounts.

“Andy was taken by her,” said Gerard Malanga, a writer and lensman who was portion of the Warhol circle. “She became his archetypal superstar.”


Credit...Gerard Malanga

Warhol formed her successful movie aft movie, and she work his involvement arsenic existent love, telling interviewers that helium wanted to wed her. She adjacent placed an engagement announcement successful a newspaper, to the delight of everyone but Warhol, said Pat Hackett, who edited Mr. Warhol’s diaries.

Mr. Malanga said she seemed not to recognize the put-on quality of immoderate of the Factory doings. “She took it much superior than it was,” helium said. “There was a definite childishness astir Ivy. She was successful a wonderland.”

Though inactive obsessed with Warhol, successful 1963 she met and joined John Palmer, a co-director of Warhol’s “Empire,” the eight-hour soundless movie of the Empire State Building. Their abbreviated matrimony produced twins, Pénélope and Gunther.

Ms. Nicholson returned to Paris concisely astatine the extremity of the 1960s. She had small income and nary savings, but due to the fact that she was celebrated “she could ever find idiosyncratic to springiness her wealth to live,” her lad Darius de Poleon said.

Her daughter, Pénélope Palmer, landed immoderate movie roles, and her lad Gunther modeled and played music, but household beingness was unstable.

Back successful the United States, Ms. Nicholson tried to get jobs, adjacent astatine McDonald’s, she told Ms. Matta, but her lone enactment acquisition was modeling, and the household depended connected societal assistance.

Stretches of homelessness successful California followed for her and the twins, including nights successful Golden Gate Park successful San Francisco oregon successful her aged Chrysler. A newsman for The Associated Press recovered her successful 1987 camped extracurricular a photograph studio, “looking airy and ragged,” trying to revive her modeling career. She recovered much stableness connected Staten Island successful New York, wherever friends similar Mr. Ventur helped her bargain groceries. But she yet returned to California.

She made a movie astir herself, “The Dead Life,” with her daughter, Pénélope, successful 2005 and, a fewer years later, a CD, “Songs for Andy,” with her lad Darius.

This resilience, much than her glamorous precocious life, defined her, Mr. Bolger said. “She ever had hopes and dreams,” helium said. “She ever wanted to widen her 15 minutes of fame. And she did.”

Along with her children, she is survived by 4 grandchildren.

Those adjacent to her said she was ne'er dissatisfied with her life, contempt its hardships.

Her granddaughter Edween Malaval, a exemplary for the decorator Agnes B, remembered a telephone telephone erstwhile Ms. Nicholson was spending nights successful a religion successful Long Beach, Calif., with obscurity other to go. “All she talked astir was however beauteous it was,” Ms. Malaval said.

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