Almost a century
after DH Lawrence wrote it and 55 years after the first Penguin
paperback edition was cleared of obscenity, Lady Chatterley’s Lover
is set to shock again – either because there is too much sex and
bad language in a new BBC adaptation, or not enough.
The 90-minute drama,
to be broadcast next month, reputedly contains one instance of the
word “cock” and one “John Thomas” – the gamekeeper
Mellors’s favoured term for the part with which, in one of the more
appallingly unforgettable scenes in the book, he enchants Lady
Chatterley by entwining with honeysuckle and forget-me-not flowers.
But there are no uses at all of the four-letter words “fuck” or
“cunt”, which ensured publication of the full text was barred for
decades and landed in court in 1960.
There are just three
sex scenes, according to the Telegraph. And with apparent regret, it
notes: “The passion will be soft-focus and almost all the book’s
sexual language will be absent.”
However, the Sun is
already working itself up into a muck sweat, promising that the
adaptation is “so steamy it borders on porn”, and quoting the
producer Serena Cullen as saying: “I have never seen anyone do the
things Mellors, the gamekeeper, does to Lady Chatterley. I’m not
sure what more we could have shown unless it was for porn.”
Jed Mercurio, who
wrote and directed the new version, thinks that trying to shock
modern audiences with the original language would be pointless.
“Lawrence chose a certain type of language in his book which was
then groundbreaking,” he said. “It did not feel that today we
would be breaking new ground if we were to use those words. If you
want to use certain words you have to justify them, and it did not
He added: “The
idea was to tell this as a love story, a love triangle – to
concentrate on the emotions of the characters.”
The Mirror is among
several newspapers quoting unnamed BBC insiders gleefully predicting
that the broadcaster will pitch the adaptation directly against ITV’s
“prim” Downton Abbey, which starts its final run next month.
Lawrence wrote the
book in 1927 while terminally ill with tuberculosis. A version was
privately printed in 1928, and a heavily bowdlerised version followed
It was the
publication by Penguin in 1960 of a full – and cheap – paperback
edition that sparked a prosecution under the previous year’s
Obscene Publications Act, against which the publisher’s only
defence was literary merit. Among those who spoke up for the book
were the writers EM Forster, Cecil Day-Lewis, Rebecca West and
Richard Hoggart, as well as the bishop of Woolwich, John Robinson.
case was sunk by an appeal to the jury by the chief prosecutor,
Mervyn Griffith-Jones, which became as famous as any passage in the
book. “Would you approve of your young sons, young daughters –
because girls can read as well as boys – reading this book? Is it a
book that you would have lying around in your own house? Is it a book
that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?”
Many saw the verdict
as a game-changer that ushered in the swinging 60s. Philip Larkin
wrote in his poem Annus Mirabilis: “Sexual intercourse began/ In
nineteen sixty-three/(which was rather late for me) /Between the end
of the Chatterley ban/ And the Beatles’ first LP.”
In 1962 Penguin
published a second edition dedicated to “the twelve jurors, three
women and nine men who returned a verdict of ‘not guilty’ and
thus made DH Lawrence’s last novel available for the first time to
the public in the United Kingdom”.
herself and many readers have found Lawrence’s use of dialect more
challenging than the sex scenes. “Ah luv thee, thy legs, an’ th’
shape on thee, an’ th’ womanness on thee. Ah luv th’ womanness
on thee. Ah luv thee wi’ my balls an’ wi’ my heart. But dunna
ax me nowt,” Mellors declares rapturously at one point.
The book has been
filmed several times: a 1993 television version had Joely Richardson
and Sean Bean cavorting in the woods. The new version stars Richard
Madden, best known as Robb Stark in Game of Thrones, as Mellors
grappling with Holliday Grainger as Lady Chatterley.
James Norton, last
seen as a lovestruck and frequently hungover clergyman detective in
Grantchester, spends most of the film confined to a wheelchair in the
thankless role of Sir Clifford Chatterley. The character returns from
the first world war paralysed from the waist down, and unlike Matthew
Crawley’s character in Downton Abbey, there is no miraculous
recovery to rampant good health.
At the programme
launch, Norton said the role was so taxing that at one point he
blacked out, but that, like the trooper he is, he hoped the frames of
him struggling for breath survived into the final edit.
Chatterley's Lover: BBC adaptation divides critics as some say it
'borders on porn' and others promise 'no raised eyebrows'
Downton Abbey will
be getting some hot new Sunday night competition, quite literally,
when the BBC's adaptation of Lady Chatterley's Lover hits our living
rooms next month.
to an early screening of the one-off DH Lawrence period drama have
been mixed, with some papers promising "sexual gymnastics"
that "borders on porn" while others insist there will be no
"explicit nude scenes" or "raised eyebrows over
takes the lead as Lady Constance Chatterley, with James Norton
playing her "war-wounded" impotent husband Sir Clifford
Chatterley and former Game of Thrones star Richard Madden as
gamekeeper Oliver Mellors.
Written and directed
by Bafta nominee Jed Mercurio, the show tells the early 20th century
story of Lady Chatterley's passionate love affair with Mellors
despite their class differences.
The original 1928
novel was censored in Britain for over 30 years for its obscene
language and graphic sex scenes. But while the raunchiness of the
three sex scenes is under debate, Lawrence's four-letter words do not
feature in the new adaptation as Mercurio did not see them as
has been won. The idea was to tell this as a love story, a love
triangle. Swearing or sex scenes don't excite me because they don't
have emotional content," he told reporters at the advance
"I think that
putting Lady Chatterley at the centre and making her a much more
thinking person, much more decisive, was one of the most important
The BBC's 1993 take
on Lady Chatterley's Lover, starring Joely Richardson and Sean Bean,
attracted viewer complaints for its full frontal nudity, but Madden
has also spoken about not feeling the need to shock this time around.
"Come on guys,
we've got Google. There's nothing that's going to shock us that we're
going to do in Lady Chatterley's Lover is there?" Madden told
the Press Association in March.
stigma, all that smut's gone and it's actually it's just about these
three people which is the fascinating story of it. There's sex and
passion in it but we're not going to shock people like the book did."
There will however
be one scene in which Lady Chatterley runs to Mellors in the middle
of a storm, wearing only her nightdress. He performs a sex act on her
outside his cabin, but both apparently remain fully-clothed.
BBC bosses will be
hoping for a repeat of the success of its Poldark remake, watched by
around eight million people earlier this year.
Lover is yet to receive an air date but it will be broadcast one
Sunday in September as part of a BBC One series of classic literary
adaptations, also including The Go Between by LP Hartley, Cider with
Rosie by Laurie Lee an An Inspector Calls by JB
A Day in the Life
of Andy Warhol, presented by Stephen Smith, is on BBC4 on 25 August
as part of the series BBC4 Goes Pop.
A Day in the Life of Andy
Stephen Smith meets
with many of Andy Warhol's friends and confidantes to get closer to
the man behind the enigmatic public image, experiencing for himself a
day in the life of the pop art superstar. From recreating Warhol's
intimate early morning chats with Factory star Brigid Polk to
visiting the church where Warhol worshipped with his mother,
discovering new details about the making of the notorious eight-hour
Empire State Building film with assistant Gerard Malanga to spending
time with Warhol's lover and collaborator John Giorno, Smith provides
an entertaining and fresh new portrait of the legendary artist's life
We all know Andy,
the alien in the fright wig with his Marilyns and Elvises, who died
at the age of 58 from complications to gall-bladder surgery. Most
artists are referred to by their proper but distancing surnames –
Constable, Matisse – but he’s one of very few to achieve the
ultimate signifier of fame, recognition on first-name terms (we might
also allow “Vincent” in deference to Don McLean). Most of us
could even manage a thumbnail sketch of the life: pop art, Studio 54,
Mick and Bianca. Warhol was the notorious voyeur who shot sex tapes
avant la lettre, albeit gussied up as art films, all the while
insisting that he himself was a virgin – that’s when you could
prise a word out of him beyond a “Gee!” or a “My!” He was the
seven-stone weakling who hid from the world behind his platinum
toupées and Ray-Bans. He was affectless, amoral, his campy work
emerging haphazardly from the druggy haze of his studio, the Factory,
where a miscellany of misfits and poor little rich kids crashed and
burned while Warhol looked on with what John Updike called his
That, at least, is
the boilerplate biography. But after talking to many survivors of
Warhol’s circle in New York, including his relatives as well as an
associate who was close to the artist for many years but has never
spoken at length before, I discovered a very different version of the
man, a long way from the dead-eyed Martian of legend. And I came away
with a renewed respect for his uncanny prescience in anticipating our
fascination with brands, celebrity, even selfies. Warhol was the
painter of modern life.
To start at the top,
with Warhol’s crowning glory: it’s true that he was a great one
for affecting ever bolder, and more unabashedly synthetic,
confections as he grew accustomed to the spotlight. But the first
time he wore a wig, it was out of a very human self-consciousness,
after a nervous illness in his youth left his body completely
hairless. With a flair for publicity which was characteristic and
innate, Warhol eventually parlayed his baldness into a plus.
According to Victor Bockris, an Englishman from Brighton who worked
for Warhol at the Factory in the 1970s, Warhol realised that America
didn’t know its artists. The generation who immediately preceded
him were the abstract expressionists, scowling introspectives such as
Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. They would only unburden themselves,
if at all, to toney art critics, and even then in terms that lay
readers might struggle to grasp. But Warhol, the man who turned the
everyday of American life into art – dollar bills, soup cans,
Brillo-pad boxes – pulled off the same trick in reverse, making an
artificial or at least contrived version of “Andy Warhol” part of
everyone’s scenery. “What did all Americans immediately get?
Cartoons, comic strips,” Bockris said. “So Andy became a cartoon,
the Donald Duck of art.” He wore the same things every day –
leather jacket, black jeans, sneakers – ensuring that he leapt out
of the paparazzi pictures in the New York Post. “And he looked
after himself,” Bockris said. “Andy worked out. He went to the
gym and lifted weights.”
Andy Warhol worked
John Richardson, the
acclaimed biographer of Picasso, compared Warhol to a “holy fool”,
a figure associated with the eastern traditions of the remote sliver
of land where the Warhol (originally Warhola) family hailed from,
Carpathian Ruthenia in the former Austro-Hungarian empire. Warhol’s
on-off friend Truman Capote called him “a Sphinx without a secret”.
But his reputation for mute inscrutability isn’t altogether
justified. Yes, it won him that priceless fascination that we reserve
for the silent – Kate Moss, the Queen. Warhol let the praise and
abuse heaped on his art and his person go without comment in public,
but it was a different matter behind closed doors, according to his
nephew, James Warhola. In his childhood, James and his brothers often
stayed at their uncle’s townhouse on Lexington Avenue, a cabinet of
curiosities, as he remembered it, with “carousel horses and
cigar-store Indians”. A lithe and youthful 60, James has inherited
something of the dreamy wonder of his famous relative. “When we
were all together as a family, my mom would sometimes question Uncle
Andy about his art. You know, ‘What’s that meant to be?’, or
even ‘Why are you wasting your time on this?’ And he would give
as good as he got – not in a hostile way, but saying that this was
his work, it had value and importance for him. He had studied art and
was very knowledgeable.”
We were sitting in a
pew at the Church of St Thomas More, a block or so from Andy’s old
home. It was a slightly ersatz copy of an English parish church, the
sodium lighting giving the interior an embalmed quality. “My uncle
would sometimes bring us here,” James said. It in no way put Warhol
off that his fellow worshippers included some of the most
distinguished old-money families of Manhattan. But he came to church
because he was faithful to the old religion of his mother country,
Byzantine Catholicism (the Roman version was the next best thing, and
more conveniently situated for Lexington Avenue). James said there
were crucifixes in every room of his uncle’s house, including one
above his (four-poster) bed. The first time Richardson called on
Warhol at home, he was struck by “the gleam, the hush, and the
peace of a presbytery”.
The artist never
talked about religion, any more than he did about anything else. But
it’s often overlooked that he wrote half a dozen books, including a
novel and some 1,200 pages of diaries, admittedly with the help of
ghostwriters (“he dictated every word of it himself”, Bockris
pointed out). In fact, Warhol is perhaps the most quotable artist of
all time, with a line on everything from his supposedly non-existent
love life to his thoughts on everyday products. “What’s great
about this country is that America started the tradition where the
richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You
can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President
drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink
Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a
better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking.”
Incidentally, it’s hard to read that paean to the downhome American
values of apple pie and K-Mart as the ravings of a degenerate fag, as
J Edgar Hoover might have put it. (The FBI boss once dispatched two
of his men to the San Francisco film festival, to scrutinise Warhol’s
allegedly subversive movie, Lonesome Cowboys, made in 1968. “There
was no plot to the film and no development of characters,” noted
And what about the
films? There’s no doubt about the period shock value of Warhol’s
Blow Job (1964), for example. Except the viewer only sees the lucky
or otherwise recipient, a man by the name of DeVeren Bookwalter, from
the waist up. Warhol liked to provoke, but what he really wanted was
to be taken seriously by the big boys in Hollywood, and perhaps even
to join them one day; to hear the name of the Factory uttered in the
same breath as Universal and Warner Brothers.
At his apartment in
Brooklyn, the veteran film-maker Jonas Mekas and I spooled through
rushes he shot back in the 70s and had never shown anyone before. On
the magic lantern of his ancient Moviola screen, Andy Warhol sprang
to life once more – brick-red polo-neck, slacks, wig. He was
operating his movie camera on a beach at Cape Cod, filming a couple
of boys playing rough and tumble. One of them was John Kennedy Jr,
JFK’s son. Warhol is known for his awestruck, fan’s-eye-view
silkscreen prints of John Jr’s mother, Jackie, but it’s forgotten
now that this “freak” who hung out with junkies and losers was
also a habitué of Camelot, JFK’s inner circle.
92-year-old doyen of New York’s underground film scene, was the
first to screen Warhol’s releases, patiently lacing up mile upon
mile of Warhol’s unblinking cinematography. He told me: “I don’t
know about his art, but he is a genius of film.” Just as an old
master picture shows us what paint can do, so Warhol’s fanatically
unhurried cinema – Empire (1964) consists of a single shot of the
Empire State Building running to eight hours and five minutes –
demonstrates to the viewer the penetrating insight of the camera. To
those who can stick it out, that is. “At the premiere, I insisted
that Andy must watch the film like everyone else. Because he is
always so busy, he will go after some minutes.” Mekas produced a
length of rope and ran it through his fingers. The still sinewy
auteur began looping it around my chair. “So I tied him up – like
this! Of course when I looked at Andy later, he had freed himself and
he was gone.”
What about Warhol’s
relationships with others? According to art world lore, he looked on
with a kind of glassy ecstasy at the self-harming antics of the
low-lifes and bored heiresses who gravitated to his studio, some of
whom met premature deaths.
people would have been dead earlier if it wasn’t for Andy Warhol,”
Mekas said. “He was the only one who would take them in. He was the
perfect father – he didn’t judge people who had been judged and
rejected by everybody else.”
Holzer is referenced in Roxy Music’s ‘Virginia Plain’
One person who’s
in a position to know is “Baby” Jane Holzer, one of Andy’s
“superstars” – an actor who appeared in three of his movies and
was a denizen of the Factory. The daughter of a real-estate investor,
she married the heir to a New York property fortune. She was hymned
by Roxy Music in their hit “Virginia Plain” (“Baby Jane’s in
Acapulco / We are flying down to Rio”) and immortalised by Tom
Wolfe as “The Girl of the Year” in his groundbreaking book of
essays, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. Now a
formidable art patron, Holzer still trails a hint of mischief behind
her, like prom night perfume. We met at Bloomingdale’s, where the
management had set an entire floor aside for their valued customer.
She first ran into Warhol when she was shopping with David Bailey and
Nicky Haslam, and the pair of them hailed Warhol across the street.
Why did you hang out
with him? “It was better than being a bored housewife,” she
deadpans. What did he shop for? “Jewels, darling. He adored
Holzer was renowned
for her sex appeal back in the day. Wasn’t she afraid of being hit
on at the Factory? “Actually, I found it restful,” she said. “I
would go there to sleep.”
told me that far from being a den of iniquity, it was more like the
art faculty at the University of Life. Joseph Freeman first attended
aged 13, and was soon exposed to amphetamine-users injecting
themselves “in the tush”. But to Little Joey, as he then was, a
streetwise kid growing up just after the era of the Sharks and Jets
of West Side Story, it was all so much water off a DA haircut. “It
was one of the best times of my life.” These days, Freeman is a
businessman leasing out kit to TV crews. He has seldom spoken of his
days with Warhol. The unlikely pair bonded over a shared interest in
hi-fi. “I was a dork and the dorky thing back then was taping. I
saw Andy on the cover of my favourite hi-fi magazine and I knew I had
to meet him,” Freeman said. It was his job to rouse Warhol and get
him to work on time. “He was turning up at the Factory at 6pm. It
was too late – people needed to see him, he had to take care of
He loved talking on
the phone ... He just seemed to understand what would make teenage
boys kill themselves laughing
Fortified by a
breakfast of Cheerios, Warhol would hail a taxi, or at least try to.
On a Lexington kerbside, Freeman mimed a frail dowager shooing wasps.
“That’s why he needed me with him” – the pint-sized Joey
would cajole or menace cabbies into pulling over. Freeman told me
that he and a pal used to phone Warhol on Sunday mornings. “He was
at home then and he loved talking on the phone. He’d talk for
hours. We’d say: ‘What are you doing, Andy?’ and he’d say:
‘Oh, I’m sucking cock.’ I mean, we fell about.”
That was hardly an
appropriate thing to tell a 13-year-old boy. “I guess not. But he
just seemed to understand what would make teenage boys kill
Warhol appeared to
be obsessed with other people’s sex lives, asking female friends
about their dates and how well-endowed they were. But he wasn’t the
frustrated virgin of his own myth-making. John Giorno, a poet and
artist, was the star of his first film, Sleep (1963): five hours of
the male lead catching zeds.
described as Warhol’s ‘close friend’?”
“But you were
“Yes.” Tall and
distinguished, with a lived-in Roman face and a corona of white hair,
Giorno spoke to me at his loft in the Bowery. It was once home to the
trigger-happy writer William Burroughs, whose perforated firing-range
targets still bared their stigmata on the walls. Giorno told me the
most extraordinary and moving thing about Warhol. “You know, he had
a beautiful body. He was taking diet pills – basically, speed –
and he was working all the time, working with his hands, making the
silkscreen prints, which is quite a physical job. So he was slim and
he had really good muscle definition. Plus he had no hair, and his
origins were in eastern Europe, so he had really pale skin.”
But he always
thought of himself as very ugly?
but he was like a Renaissance statue,” said Giorno.
This was Warhol’s
greatest secret. The artist whose career ran in parallel with the
cold war was a double agent. He was as American as Donald Duck, but
true to his eastern ancestry, he was really a Russian doll, and
inside the cartoon character was a man with the beauty and grace of a
• A Day in the
Life of Andy Warhol, presented by Stephen Smith, is on BBC4 on 25
August as part of the series BBC4 Goes Pop.
MTV President Splurges on Warhol's 66th Street Mansion
By Deborah Schoeneman and Carmela Ciuraru
January 23, 2000 | 7:00 p.m
Andy Warhol lived at 57 East 66th Street from 1974 until his death in 1987, dwelling there longer than anyone who has since tried to call the town house home–first a Spanish family and then an American gentleman. Maybe they were spooked by the secret trap door in the master bedroom or tales of the sordid findings of the appraisers who scoured the place after Warhol's death: green boxes of wings stacked near a television set, a medicine cabinet filled with makeup tubes and perfume bottles, and women's jewelry nestled in the four-poster canopy bed.
Now it's Tom Freston's turn. The Warhol mansion was purchased by the chairman of MTV for around $6.5 million in early January. Mr. Freston confirmed that he purchased the house, but did not wish to comment.
The 8,000-square-foot house is a hefty piece of memorabilia. Warhol bought it for $310,000 and hired decorator Jed Johnson. Together they merged their tastes in art deco with primitive contemporary paintings (none of his own) and religious emblems. Soon after Warhol's death, someone stole the street number–57–from the facade. (That prompted the Spanish family who purchased the house from Warhol's estate to erect a gate out front, which has since been removed.) On Aug. 6, 1998, in celebration of Mr. Warhol's 70th birthday, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel's Historic Landmark Preservation Center dedicated a plaque to the town house to honor the artist–the first memorial to Warhol in the city. There was, of course, a large gathering in front of the residence for the occasion.
One broker considers $6.5 million a fair price. "It's a great old house," the broker said. "Andy never did a major rehab of it. He left a lot of detail that people appreciate like trade moldings and fireplaces." The Spanish family paid the estate $3 million, but never moved in, and the last owner, who purchased the house in 1993 for $3.35 million, did some upgrading but kept the architecture intact.
The five-and-a-half-story neoclassical house has four bedrooms, a library with Juliet balconies, six fireplaces, central air-conditioning and an elevator.
Vincent Fremont, a friend of Warhol's, remembers house-sitting for the artist while he was in Japan for two weeks in 1974. "Very few people ever got into the house. It was a private hideaway," he said. "It had a nice parlor, a staircase and a formal dining room, which Andy never used after the late 70's because he liked to eat in the downstairs kitchen."
Mr. Freston and Warhol met over Warhol's television show Fifteen Minutes , said Mr. Fremont, who produced the show. Fifteen Minutes ran on MTV from 1986 to 1987. "It's kind of interesting that after all these years he bought it," said Mr. Fremont. "It's kind of terrific."
The fate of Mr. Freston's TriBeCa condominium on the top floor of 39 North Moore Street, which he bought in 1994, is unknown.
Andy Warhol, a founder of Pop Art whose paintings and prints
of Presidents, movie stars, soup cans and other icons of America made him one
of the most famous artists in the world, died yesterday. He was believed to be
58 years old.
The artist died at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical
Center in Manhattan, where he underwent gall bladder surgery Saturday. His
condition was stable after the operation, according to a hospital spokeswoman,
Ricki Glantz, but he had a heart attack in his sleep around 5:30 A.M.
Though best known for his earliest works - including his
silk-screen image of a Campbell's soup can and a wood sculpture painted like a
box of Brillo pads - Mr. Warhol's career included successful forays into
photography, movie making, writing and magazine publishing.
He founded Interview magazine in 1969, and in recent years
both he and his work were increasingly in the public eye - on national magazine
covers, in society columns and in television advertisements for computers,
cars, cameras and liquors.
In all these endeavors, Mr. Warhol's keenest talents were
for attracting publicity, for uttering the unforgettable quote and for finding
the single visual image that would most shock and endure. That his art could
attract and maintain the public interest made him among the most influential
and widely emulated artists of his time.
Although himself shy and quiet, Mr. Warhol attracted dozens
of followers who were anything but quiet, and the combination of his genius and
their energy produced dozens of notorious events throughout his career. In the
mid-1960's, he sometimes sent a Warhol look alike to speak for him at lecture
engagements, and his Manhattan studio, ''the Factory,'' was a legendary hangout
for other artists and hangers-on.
In 1968, however, a would-be follower shot and critically
wounded Mr. Warhol at the Factory. After more than a year of recuperation, Mr.
Warhol returned to his career, which he increasingly devoted to documenting,
with Polaroid pictures and large silk-screen prints, political and
entertainment figures. He started his magazine, and soon became a fixture on
the fashion and jet-set social scene.
In the 1980's, after a relatively quiet period in his
career, Mr. Warhol burst back onto the contemporary art scene as a mentor and
friend to young artists, including Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Jean-Michel
Basquiat. With Mr. Basquiat, Mr. Warhol collaborated on a series of paintings
in which he shunned mechanical reproduction techniques and painted individual
canvases for the first time since the early 1960's.
He never denied his obsession with art as a business and
with getting publicity; instead, he proclaimed them as philosophical tenets.
''Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of
art,'' he said on one occasion. On another, he said: ''Art? That's a man's
name.'' As widely known as his art and his own image were, however, Mr. Warhol
himself was something of a cipher. He was uneasy while speaking about himself.
''The interviewer should just tell me the words he wants me to say and I'll
repeat them after him,'' he once said. Date of Birth Uncertain
The earliest facts of his life remain unclear. He was born
somewhere in Pennsylvania in either 1928, 1929 or 1930, according to three
known versions of his life. (The most commonly accepted date is Aug. 6, 1928.)
The son of immigrant parents from Czechoslovakia, his father a coal miner - the
family's name was Warhola -he attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology
(now Carnegie-Mellon University), from which he graduated with a degree in
pictorial design in 1949.
He immediately set out for New York, where he changed his
name to Warhol and began a career as an illustrator and a commerical artist,
working for Tiffany's, Bonwit Teller's, Vogue, Glamour, The New York Times and
other magazines and department stores.
By the late 1950's, he was highly successful, having earned
enough money to move to a town house in Midtown, and having received numerous
professional prizes and awards. Despite his success, however, he increasingly
considered trying his hand at making paintings, and in 1960 he did so with a
series of pictures based on comic strips, including Superman and Dick Tracy,
and on Coca-Cola bottles.
Success, however, was not immediate. Leo Castelli, the art
dealer best known for discovering the artists Jasper Johns and Robert
Rauschenberg, saw Mr. Warhol's paintings but declined to show his work, since
Roy Lichtenstein, who also painted pictures taken from comic strips, was
already represented by the gallery. Ivan Karp, a talent scout for Castelli who
discovered Mr. Warhol, tried to help him find a New York gallery that would
show his work, with no success. The Birth of a Movement
In 1962, the dam broke, with Mr. Warhol's first exhibition
of the Campbell's soup cans at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, and his show
of other works at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York. Other Pop artists,
including Mr. Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist and Tom Wesselman also began to
achieve prominence around the country at the time, and the movement was born.
Though some of Mr. Warhol's first Pop Art paintings had
drips on them - evidence that the painter's hand had left its mark on the work
- by 1963 Mr. Warhol had dispensed with the brush altogether. Instead, he
turned to exclusively hard-edged images made in the medium of silk-screen
print, which made a depersonalized image that became Mr. Warhol's trademark.
''Painting a soup can is not in itself a radical act,'' the
critic Robert Hughes wrote in 1971. ''But what was radical in Warhol was that he
adapted the means of production of soup cans to the way he produced paintings,
turning them out en masse - consumer art mimicking the the process as well as
the look of consumer culture.''
In 1964 Mr. Warhol was taken on by the Castelli Gallery,
which remained his art dealer until his death. His experimentation with
underground films began around that time - an interest that culminated in
widespread notoriety if not overwhelming box office acclaim.
''Eat,'' a 45-minute film, showed the artist Robert Indiana
eating a mushroom. ''Haircut'' showed a Warhol groupie having his hair cut over
a span of 33 minutes, and another, ''Poor Little Rich Girl,'' was filmed out of
focus and showed Edie Sedgwick, a Warhol follower who became a celebrity on the
New York social circuit, talking about herself.
In the 1970's, recuperated from his near fatal gunshot
wound, Mr. Warhol settled down to a sustained creative period in which his fame
as a society figure leveled off, but his output, if anything, increased.
Working most often in silk-screen prints, he made series of pictures of
political and Hollywood celebrities, including Mao, Liza Minelli, Jimmy Carter
and Russell Banks.
In 1975, he published ''The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From
A to B and Back Again),'' a collection of statements and epigrams that
elucidated his contrary views on art.
In his glancing and elliptical style, Mr. Warhol wrote about
subjects ranging from art to money and sex. ''Checks aren't money,'' he wrote
in one section of the book. In another, he said: ''Fantasy love is much better
than reality love. Never doing it is very exciting. The most exciting
attractions are between two opposites that never meet.''
In the 1980's, Mr. Warhol became more active in commissioned
art projects and a variety of other commercial activties. In 1983, he made a
series of prints - based on animals of endangered species - that was first
shown at the American Museum of Natural History. A Near Exception
Although some of his later art projects seemed to diverge
from his calculating approach and to be motivated in part by social concern,
Mr. Warhol generally avoided any such suggestion. He came closest to making an
exception in 1985, when he exhibited a group of prints of clowns, robots,
monkeys and other images he made for children at the Newport (R.I.) Art Museum
''It's just that the show's for children,'' he told a
reporter at the time. ''I wanted it arranged for them. The Newport Museum
agreed to hang all of my children's pictures at levels where only kids could
really see them.''
After the news of his death was publicized yesterday,
artists, celebrities and politicians who knew Mr. Warhol spoke of his influence
on culture, and on their lives.
''He had this wry, sardonic knack for dismissing history and
putting his finger on public taste, which to me was evidence of living in the
present,'' said the sculptor George Segal. ''Every generation of artists has
the huge problem of finding their own language and talking about their own
experience. He was out front with several others of his generation in pinning
down how it was to live in the 60's, 70's and 80's.''
Leo Castelli, Mr. Warhol's dealer of 23 years, said Mr.
Warhol, more than practically any artist of the last two decades, seemed to
have a continuing and strong influence on today's emerging artists. ''Of all
the painters of his generation he's still the one most influential on the
younger artists - a real guru,'' Mr. Castelli said.
Martha Graham, the dancer and choreographer, recalled her
first meeting with Warhol. ''When I first met Andy, he confided to me that he
was born in Pittsburgh as I was, and that when he first saw me dance
'Appalachian Spring' it touched him deeply. He touched me deeply as well. He
was a gifted, strange maverick who crossed my life with great generosity. His
last act was the gift of three portraits [ of Miss Graham ] he donated to my
company to help my company meet its financial needs.''
In his book, ''The Philosophy of Andy Warhol,'' the artist
wrote a short chap=ter entitled ''Death'' that consisted almost entirely of
these words: ''I'm so sorry to hear about it. I just thought that things were
magic and that it would never happen.''
Dr. Elliot M. Gross, the Chief Medical Examiner for New York
City, said an autopsy on Mr. Warhol would be conducted today. Dr. Gross
explained that deaths occurring during surgery or shortly afterward are
considered deaths of an ''unusual manner.''
''It was an unexplained death of a relatively young person
in apparently good health,'' he said.
Mr. Warhol is survived by two brothers, John Warhola and
Paul Warhola, both of Pittsburgh.
Edie Sedgwick: The life and death of the Sixties star
Rich, gorgeous and well-connected, Edie Sedgwick was the
party girl who lit up Andy Warhol's golden circle. As her life story comes to
the screen, Rhoda Koenig unravels a very Sixties tragedy
"Her fog, her amphetamine, and her pearls..." With
three nouns, in "Just Like a Woman" (said to have been inspired by
her), Bob Dylan deftly summed up his friend Edie Sedgwick, the wayward princess
of Andy Warhol's multimedia Factory.
More than 30 years after her short, tumultuous life ended,
Edie is still causing ructions. Last month, Dylan threatened to sue the makers
of Factory Girl, a movie starring Sienna Miller as Edie, claiming that he is
defamed by Hayden Christensen's portrayal of a singer whose rejection drives
her to suicide.
This week, Edie's brother claimed that despite Dylan's
insistence that he and Edie never had a relationship, she became pregnant with
his child and had an abortion. The producers describe the harmonica-playing
character (named "Quinn" in the press notes, but never called by name
in the movie and identified only as "musician" in the credits) as a
composite - which Dylan's lawyer argues is no bar to defamation.
The movie, which was frantically re-cut prior to its
Oscar-qualifying release at one theatre in Los Angeles (though the director
George Hickenlooper says the changes had nothing to do with Dylan's objections)
will be edited again before its wider US release later this month.
Early reviews have been mixed, with The Hollywood Reporter
praising its "bright intensity" and saying that Miller "brings
to life Sedgwick's legendary allure"; the Los Angeles Times calling it
"simplistic" and "superficial"; and Variety finding the
movie "tame" and Miller "whiny".
It's no surprise, though, that the film should provoke
reactions as varied as Edie herself did. To parents terrified of the influence
of sex and drugs, she was an abomination; to the would-be cool, she was an
ideal; to painters as eminent as Robert Rauschenberg, she was a living work of
American aristocracy ruled that a lady's name should appear
in the papers only three times: when she was born, when she married, and when
she died. Edie Sedgwick changed that. As well as publicising her appearances in
underground movies, her numerous committals for mental illness and drug
addiction were widely reported. She met her future husband - a fellow patient -
in the psychiatric wing of the hospital where she was born. On the last evening
of her life, in 1971, she appeared on television, and then went home to die of
an overdose of barbiturates. She was 28.
Edie's troubles began long before she was born. Her
distinguished New England lineage (a Sedgwick was Speaker of the House of
Representatives under George Washington, another edited the Atlantic Monthly
for a generation) was also distinguished by hereditary madness, as far back as
the Speaker's wife.
Edie's father (whose own father had moved his family to
southern California) had two nervous breakdowns soon after leaving university,
and his wife was told by her doctors that she must never have children. But the
rich do not like being told what to do, and the Sedgwicks were rich-rich (not
only had Edie's family inherited millions; oil was discovered on their
property, enough to sink 17 wells).
Mrs Sedgwick defied doctors and fate and had eight children,
two of whom died before Edie - one hanged himself, the other rode his
motorcycle into a bus. As a father, Francis Minturn "Duke" Sedgwick
was larger than life and much more terrible. A career as a monumental sculptor
and owner of a ranch that was his own little dukedom (the children were tutored
at home, and seldom left it) did not exhaust his energies. He seduced, or at
least made advances to, his wife's friends, his children's friends and, Edie
said, to her.
When Edie left California for Radcliffe, the women's college
of Harvard (the Sedgwick alma mater), she had already spent time in mental
hospitals, suffered from anorexia and had an abortion. What men saw, however,
was a delicate beauty and an appealingly vulnerable quality. "Every boy at
Harvard," said a former classmate, "was trying to save Edie from
The less high-minded boys flocked to Edie for other reasons
- even at wealthy Harvard, there were not too many students who drove their own
Mercedes, or were so uninhibited. At one boy's Sunday family lunch, she left
the table, walked out on to the lawn, stripped to her knickers and lay down to
Bored in Boston, Edie decided to swap the role of college
girl for party girl and moved to New York, into the 14-room Park Avenue
apartment of her obliging grandmother. At 21, she came into money of her own
and got a flat - and clothes, clothes, clothes. Her stick figure, huge eyes and
chopped-off hair suited the style of the early Sixties - Jean Seberg in the
movies, Twiggy in the glossies- and Edie was, briefly, on the fashion pages.
Life magazine said she was "doing more for black tights
than anybody since Hamlet". The Vogue empress Diana Vreeland praised her
"anthracite-black eyes and legs to swoon over... She is shown here
arabesquing on her leather rhino to a record of The Kinks." But, well
before heroin chic, her drug-taking was becoming so notorious that editors
In 1965, Edie met an impresario who was more her style: Andy
Warhol. Warhol and Edie were, horribly, made for each other. The Pittsburgh
boy, son of Polish immigrants, wanted the Wasp heiress's company more fervently
than any straight man wanted her body; the neglected daughter craved the
obsessive attention of a famous man who demanded nothing from her in return.
"If you had a father who read the paper at the dinner table," said
Viva, another of Warhol's film-stars, "and you had to go up and turn his
chin to even get him to look at you, then you had Andy, who would press the
'on' button of the Sony the minute you opened your mouth."
Edie introduced Warhol to her real father, but their one
meeting was not a success. The artist thought Duke Sedgwick the most handsome
older man he had ever seen, but the rancher said afterwards: "Why, the
guy's a screaming fag!"
Warhol's clothes became smarter under Edie's influence, and
she dyed her hair silver to match his. "I thought at first it was
exploitative on Andy's part," says the photographer Fred Eberstadt.
"Then I changed my mind and decided, if it was exploitative on any part,
maybe it was Edie's."
"Edie and Andy," the non-couple, were the couple
of the moment. She took him to parties where everyone else was listed in the
Social Register; he stage-managed her appearances, pushing Edie to the cameras
and the microphones, where she was white with fear but loved every minute.
Edie became an habitué of the Factory, Warhol's loft papered
in aluminium foil, where the daytime was spent churning out silkscreen prints and
the night on parties that mingled guests who contributed flash, trash and cash
with a smorgasbord of illegal stimulants. (Some left the place in limousines,
some in ambulances, a regular said.)
Flash-bulbs popped and crowds on the wrong side of the rope
screamed when Edie turned up in leotards and her grandmother's leopard coat.
The Velvet Underground, Warhol's rock band, wrote a song, "Femme
Fatale", about her. Warhol put her in a movie called Horse, which,
contrary to what one might have expected from the title, was actually about a
horse. The actors, in cowboy gear, were brought together with the stallion and
a placard was held up that read: "Approach the horse sexually,
everybody." Edie was lucky for once - the indignant horse kicked someone
else in the head.
Edie appeared in Beauty Part II, her nervous radiance
apparent from the first. George Plimpton, a fellow aristocrat (who, with Jean
Stein, later put together the oral biography Edie) remembered seeing the film,
in which Edie, in bra and pants, lounged on a bed with a man pawing her, while
an offstage voice gave her instructions. "Her head would come up, like an
animal suddenly alert at the edge of a waterhole, and she'd stare across the
bed at her inquisitor in the shadows... I couldn't get the film out of my
Other films included Restaurant, Kitchen and the cruelly
titled Poor Little Rich Girl, with Edie back in bed in her underwear, putting
on make-up or answering offscreen questions in an offhand way. Her dreaminess,
like her hysteria, was fuelled by cocaine, alcohol, uppers and downers, alone
Edie's favourite was a speedball - a shot of amphetamine in
one arm, heroin in the other. Several times she fell asleep while smoking in
bed; once she was badly burned as candles toppled while she slept. Even then,
her imprimatur was one the fashion world was eager to claim. "When Edie
set her apartment on fire," said Betsey Johnson, "she was in one of
Edie moved to the Chelsea Hotel, famous for its artistic
clientele, where she met Dylan - whose song "Leopardskin Pillbox Hat"
she is supposed to have inspired as well - and his right-hand man, the record
producer Bob Neuwirth, with whom she had an affair.
However, Jonathan Sedgwick, Edie's brother, says: "She
called me up and said she'd met this folk singer in the Chelsea, and she thinks
she's falling in love. I could tell the difference in her, just from her voice.
She sounded so joyful instead of sad. It was later on she told me she'd fallen
in love with Bob Dylan."
Some months later, he says, she told him she had been
hospitalised for drug addiction and that when doctors discovered she was
pregnant, they carried out an abortion, over her protests. "Her biggest
joy was with Bob Dylan, and her saddest time was with Bob Dylan, losing the
child. Edie was changed by that experience, very much so."
Dylan's lover of record at the time was Joan Baez. Soon
after they broke up, he married Sara Lownds; Edie was said to have been
devastated when she heard the news from someone else.
Even with her inheritance gone, and unable to count on money
from home, Edie wouldn't economise. In all the time she lived in New York, she
took the subway only once - to Coney Island, in a feathered evening gown over a
bikini. The rest of the time it was limousines. She would never even settle for
At the end of 1966, Edie went to California for Christmas.
At the Chelsea, they were relieved to see her go - there would be terrible
scenes in the lobby when she wasn't able to pay her bill, and she never could stop
setting her room on fire.
As soon as she got home, her parents had her committed. And
as soon as she could, she ran back to New York. But the spotlight never again
turned her way. In 1967, her father died. A friend said: "Finally. Thank
God. Now, maybe Edie can breathe."
But she became more depressed. Her money was gone, and she
returned to her grandmother's apartment, to steal antiques which she sold for
drug money. After eight months in increasingly grim and frightening mental
hospitals, in the last of which she was made to scrub the lavatories, she
returned, in 1968, to the ranch. But her drug habit had not ended, and she took
up with a motorcycle gang, trading sex for heroin. "She'd ball half the
dudes in town for a snort of junk," a friend said. "But she was
always very ladylike about the whole thing."
In Edie's last film, Ciao! Manhattan, whose scenario was
even more formless and bizarre than her own, she played a topless hitchhiker
living in a tent in an empty swimming pool. There was a non-simulated orgy in a
(full) swimming pool, fuelled by amphetamines and tequila. Not just Edie but
the whole cast were on speed; the film-makers had to find a co-operative doctor
and set up a charge account.
Edie showed off her new implants, but ascribed her larger
breasts to diet and exercise. She pretended to undergo electroshock treatments
- to which she was soon after subjected for real, in the hospital used for the
filming. She also recreated being given a shot of amphetamine by one of the
swinging doctors of the period, having to lie down because she was too thin to
take it standing up.
Roger Vadim and Allen Ginsberg, the latter naked and
chanting, turned up for some reason, and Isabel Jewell, the tough girl of such
Thirties films as Times Square Lady and I've Been Around, played her mother.
Edie would sometimes have convulsions from all the drugs she was taking. The
director of the film ordered his assistant: "Tie her down if you have
In July 1971,
in white lace, Edie married Michael Post, a student
eight years younger, whom she had turned from his vow to remain a virgin until
he was 21. Some guests threw confetti; one threw gravel. Edie could not live
alone, she said, and would not live with a nurse. Post's job was to dole out
On 14 November, she went to a fashion show where she headed
for the cameras like a woman dying of thirst to an oasis. A man she met that
evening said she asked to come and see him the next day for a chat, but they would
need to have sex first, otherwise she'd be too nervous to talk. The next
morning, her husband woke to find her dead beside him. Whether her death was
accident or suicide, the coroner was unable to determine. Post plays a bit part
in the movie.
When Edie first crashed and burned, such stories of a
misguided search for freedom and self-expression were rare. By the time she
died, they were becoming common. Now, of course, there are too many to count.
But the carefree innocence and optimism of the early Edie's photographs and
films still resonate. "She was after life," said Diana Vreeland,
"and sometimes life doesn't come fast enough."
A Royal Night Out is
based on the true story of the night the then princess Elizabeth and
her sister, Margaret, were allowed out incognito to celebrate VE day.
In this clip the pair attend a dance and meet a couple of veterans. A
Royal Night Out, which stars Sarah Gadon and Emily Watson, is
released in the UK on 15 May
Police officers were unarmed to clearly distinguish them from
military enforcers, which had been the system of policing seen before
the 1820s. Their uniform was also styled in blue, rather than the
military red. Despite the service being unarmed, the then Home
Secretary, Robert Peel, gave authorisation to the Commissioner to
purchase fifty flintlock pistols, for exceptional incidents that
required the use of firearms. As time progressed, the obsolete
flintlocks were decommissioned from service, being superseded by
early revolvers. At the time, burglary (or "house breaking"
as it was then called) was a common problem for police, as house
breakers were usually armed. Due to the deaths of officers at the
hands of armed criminals in the outer districts of the Metropolis,
and after much press coverage debating whether Peel's service should
be fully armed, the Commissioner applied to the Home Secretary to
supply all officers on the outer districts with revolvers. These
could only be issued if, in the opinion of the senior officer, the
officer could be trusted to use it safely, and with discretion. From
that point, officers who felt the need to be armed, could be so. The
practice lasted until 1936, although the vast majority of the system
was phased out by the end of the 19th century.
From 1829, to 1839,
Metropolitan Police officers wore blue swallow tail coats with high
collars to counter garroting. This was worn with white trousers in
summer, and a cane-reinforced top hat, which could be used as a step
to climb or see over walls. The sleeves of the dark blue coats
originally had a pattern of white bars, roughly 6 mm wide by 50 mm
high, set roughly 6 mm apart. This immediately distinguished them
from naval or maritime personnel. In the early years of the
Metropolitan Police, equipment was little more than a rattle to call
for assistance, and a wooden truncheon. As the years progressed, the
rattle was replaced with the whistle, swords were removed from
service, and flintlock pistols were removed in favour of revolvers.
In 1863, the
Metropolitan Police replaced the tailcoat with a tunic, still
high-collared, and the top hat with the custodian helmet, which is
based on the Pickelhaube. With a few exceptions (including the City
of London Police, West Mercia Police, Hampshire Constabulary and
States of Guernsey Police Service), most forces helmet plates carry a
Brunswick star. The helmet itself was of cork faced with fabric. The
design varied slightly between forces. Some used the style by the
Metropolitan Police, topped with a boss, while others had a helmet
that incorporated a ridge or crest terminating above the badge, or a
short spike, sometimes topped with a ball.
The tunic went
through many lengths and styles, with the Metropolitan Police
adopting the open-neck style in 1948 (although senior and female
officers adopted it before that time). Senior officers used to wear
peaked pillbox-style caps until the adoption of the wider peaked cap
worn today. The custodian helmet was phased out in Scotland in the
uniforms have gone through a great variety of styles, as they have
tended to reflect the women's fashions of the time. Tunic style,
skirt length and headgear have varied by period and force. By the
late 1980s, the female working uniform was virtually identical to
male, except for headgear and sometimes neckwear.
comprises an open-necked tunic (with or without an attached belt,
depending on the force and rank of the Officer) and trousers or
skirt, worn with a white or light blue shirt and black tie (usually
clip-on, so it cannot be used to strangle the wearer). Although most
forces once wore blue shirts, these have been less used since the
1980s, and most now wear white. Officers of the rank of Inspector and
above have always worn white shirts, and in many forces so have
female officers. In some forces, female officers wear a black and
white checked cravat instead of a tie. Officers of the rank of
Sergeant and above wear rank badges on the epaulettes of their
shirts, while Constables and Sergeants also wear "collar
numbers" on them. Shoulder numbers in the Metropolitan Police
are displayed on the shoulder of the tunic (despite the lack of
epaulettes on the tunic in junior ranks) as are all rank insignia
(except for that of Sergeant, which are displayed in the form of a
sewn-on badge on the sleeve). No.1 dress is worn with black, polished
shoes or boots. Male Constables and Sergeants in English and Welsh
forces wear the Custodian Helmet with this dress, whereas the peaked
cap is worn by Inspectors and above. In Scotland, all male officers
now wear a peaked cap. Female officers of all forces now wear bowler
hats. At more formal occasions, such as funerals and parades, white
gloves are worn.
Until 1994 the No.1
Dress was also the everyday working uniform, but today it is rarely
seen except on formal occasions. The normal working dress retains the
shirt and trousers. In some forces short sleeved shirts may be worn
open-necked. Long sleeved shirts must always be worn with a tie or
cravat, worn with or without a jersey or fleece. If a jersey, fleece
or jacket is worn over a short sleeved shirt, then a tie must be
worn. In 2003, Strathclyde Police replaced the white shirts with
black wicking T-shirts with stab vest on top, for the majority of
officers on duty. Some forces use combat trousers (trousers are of a
cargo pocket style i.e. two thigh pockets and two conventional side
and rear pockets) and boots. Today, female officers almost never wear
a skirt in working dress, and sometimes wear trousers in formal dress
as well. Officers also frequently wear reflective waterproof jackets,
which have replaced the old greatcoats and cloaks traditionally worn
in inclement weather. Most officers now wear stab vests, a type of
body armour, when on duty.
Basic headgear is a
peaked cap for men, and a round bowler style hat for women. All
officers wear a black and white (red and white for the City of London
Police) diced band (called Sillitoe Tartan) around the hat, a
distinction first used in Scotland and later adopted by all forces in
Great Britain. Traffic officers wear white cap covers. On foot duty,
male constables and sergeants outside Scotland wear the familiar
conical custodian helmet. There are several patterns, with different
forces wearing different types. Although some Scottish forces have
used helmets in the past, they are no longer worn in Scotland. The
only English police force to have abandoned the custodian helmet is
the Thames Valley Police.
Police approved the use of name badges in October 2003, and new
recruits started wearing the Velcro badges in September 2004. The
badges consist of the wearer's rank, followed by their surname.
Senior officers wear these in No.1 Dress, due to the public nature of
officers are wearing 'Tactical' uniform to perform everyday roles as
the increased level of equipment carried on the police duty belts and
operational requirements expand.
Officers of the
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) wear a uniform which is
somewhat different, reflecting the different roots of the force and
nature of the role that it carried out for much of its history. The
main colour to be found is a dark and light green with the uniform
looking very unlike police uniforms over in Great Britain. The RUC
officially described this as 'rifle green', that is to say the same
colour as used by Irish and rifle regiments of the British Army, such
as the Rifles (formerly the Light Infantry and the Royal Green
Jackets) and Royal Irish Regiment. This reflects the force's de facto
status as more of a paramilitary force, or gendarmerie, than police
forces in Great Britain. When the six new versions of the PSNI
uniform were introduced, in March 2002, the term 'bottle green' was
used for basically the same colour. This was perhaps seen as being a
less confrontational description and having less of a military
connotation, in keeping with the spirit of the time. RIC uniforms
were originally a very dark green almost black colour. The custodian
helmet was never worn by either the RUC or the PSNI, although a
similar design known as the "night helmet" was worn on
night shifts by the RUC until the early 1970s, and previously by the
The mounted police
of the Greater Manchester Police and of the Merseyside Police wear a
ceremonial uniform which includes a distinctive cavalry-style helmet,
similar to those worn by the Household Cavalry. Mounted police in
Cleveland wear a similar uniform, but with a red rather than a white
Police Officers may
wear mess dress to formal dinners if appropriate but is most usually
worn by officers who have achieved the rank of Superintendent or
above. The mess dress of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police
is dark blue with light blue facings on the lapels and includes a
two-inch oak leaf lace strip on his trousers and a set of
and other senior-ranked officers of the Metropolitan Police Service
and the City of London Police wear a full dress ceremonial uniform on
State and special occasions (see External links below); this includes
a high-necked tunic with silver or gold trimmings and is worn with a
sword and a plumed hat.
The pith helmet
(also known as the safari helmet, sun helmet, topee, sola topee,
salacot or topi ) is a lightweight cloth-covered helmet made of cork
or pith, typically pith from the sola, Aeschynomene aspera, an Indian
swamp plant, or A. paludosa, or a similar plant. Designed to shade
the wearer's head and face from the sun, pith helmets were often worn
by people of European origin in the tropics, but have also been used
in other contexts
Crude forms of pith
helmets had existed as early as the 1840s, but it was around 1870
that the pith helmet became popular with military personnel in
Europe's tropical colonies. The Franco-Prussian War had popularized
the German Pickelhaube, which may have influenced the distinctive
design of the pith helmet. Such developments may have merged with a
traditional design from the Philippines, the salakot. The alternative
name salacot (also written salakhoff) appears frequently in Spanish
and French sources; it comes from the Tagalog word salacsac (or
Salaksak). During the Revolution in the Philippine-American War,
Emilio Aguinaldo and the Philippine revolutionary military used to
wear the pith helmet borrowed from the Spaniards alongside the straw
hat and the native salakot.
Originally made of
pith with small peaks or "bills" at the front and back, the
helmet was covered by white cloth, often with a cloth band (or
puggaree) around it, and small holes for ventilation. Military
versions often had metal insignia on the front and could be decorated
with a brass spike or ball-shaped finial. The chinstrap could be in
leather or brass chain, depending on the occasion. The base material
later became the more durable cork, although still covered with cloth
and frequently still referred to as "pith" helmet.
appearance of sun helmets made of pith occurred in India during the
Anglo-Sikh wars of the 1840s. Adopted more widely during the Indian
Mutiny of 1857–59, they were generally worn by British troops
serving in the Ashanti War of 1873, the Zulu War of 1878–79 and
subsequent campaigns in India, Burma, Egypt and South Africa. This
distinctively shaped headwear came to be known as the Foreign Service
Anglo-Zulu War, British troops dyed their white pith helmets with
tea, mud or other makeshift means of camouflage. Subsequently
khaki-coloured pith helmets became standard issue for active tropical
While this form of
headgear is particularly associated with both the British and the
French empires, all European colonial powers used versions of it
during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The French tropical
helmet was first authorised for white colonial troops in 1878. The
Dutch wore the helmet during the entire Aceh War (1873–1914) and
the United States Army adopted it during the 1880s for use by
soldiers serving in the intensely sunny climate of the Southwest
United States. It was also worn by the North-West Mounted Police in
policing North-West Canada, 1873 through 1874 to the North-West
Rebellion and even before the Stetson in the Yukon Gold Rush of 1898.
commanding locally recruited indigenous troops, as well as civilian
officials in African and Asian colonial territories, used the pith
helmet. White troops serving in the tropics usually wore pith
helmets; although on active service they sometimes used such
alternatives as the wide-brimmed slouch hats, which were worn by US
troops in the Philippines and by British Empire forces in the later
stages of the Boer War.
At the same time,
the military adopted a broadly similar helmet, of dark blue cloth
over cork and incorporating a bronze spike, for wear in non-tropical
areas. This helmet led to the retirement of the shako headdress.
While not considered a true "pith helmet" this headdress
did resemble its tropical counterpart and during the 1890s a white
version which could be worn in both the United Kingdom and India was
experimentally issued to some British regiments. Modeled on the
German Pickelhaube, the British Army adopted this headgear (which
they called the "Home Service Helmet") in 1878. Most
British line infantry, artillery (with ball rather than spike) and
engineers wore the helmet until 1902, when khaki Service Dress was
introduced. With the general adoption of khaki for field dress in
1903, the helmet became purely a full dress item, being worn as such
The Home Service
Helmet is still worn by some British Army bands or Corps of Drums on
ceremonial occasions today. It is closely related to the custodian
helmet worn by a number of police forces in England and Wales.
The US Army wore
blue cloth helmets of the same pattern as the British model from 1881
to 1901 as part of their full dress uniform. The version worn by
cavalry and mounted artillery included plumes and cords in the colors
(yellow or red) of their respective branches of service.
Black helmets of a
similar shape were also part of the uniform of the Victoria Police
during the late 19th century. It may have been worn by some of the
police involved in the shootout with the legendary bushranger Ned
Kelly at Glenrowan, although contemporary sketches show kepis being
Pith helmets were
widely worn during World War I by British, Belgian, French,
Austrian-Hungarian and German troops fighting in the Middle East and
Helmets of this
style (but without true pith construction) were used as late as World
War II by Japanese, European and American military personnel in hot
climates. Included in this category are the sun helmets worn in
Ethiopia by Italian troops, the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army,
Union Defence Force, and Germany's Afrika Korps, as well as similar
helmets used to a more limited extent by U.S. and Japanese forces in
the Pacific Theater.
abandoned by retreating Italian forces during the North African
During the 1930s the
locally recruited forces maintained in the Philippines, (consisting
of the army and a gendarmerie), used sun helmets. The Axis Second
Philippine Republic's military, known as the Bureau of Constabulary,
as well as guerrilla groups in the Philippines also wore this
Imperial Guard retained pith helmets as a distinctive part of their
uniform until the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1974.
Imperial Guard units serving in the Korean War often wore these
helmets when not in actual combat.
The British Army
formally abolished the tropical helmet in 1948.