Holly Woodlawn, inspiration behind Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side, dies 69

Holly Woodlawn (born Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl; October 26, 1946 – December 6, 2015) was a transgender Puerto Rican actress and Warhol superstar who appeared in his movies Trash (1970) and Women in Revolt (1972).

Lou Reed refers to Woodlawn in his song “Walk on the Wild Side”, the opening verse of which describes her hitchhiking journey and gender transition:

    Holly came from Miami, F-L-A
    Hitchhiked her way across the USA
    Plucked her eyebrows on the way
    Shaved her legs and then he was a she
    She says, “Hey, babe, take a walk on the wild side.”


Woodlawn died of brain and liver cancer in Los Angeles on December 6, 2015.

Woodlawn fell seriously ill in June 2015, and was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. She was so weak that physicians feared for her life. Tests later revealed that she had lesions on her liver and brain. The lesions were later determined to be cancer. Woodlawn’s health improved enough for her to be sent home, where she continued treatment and received in-home healthcare. She was later forced to vacate her West Hollywood, California, apartment due to flooding, and entered an assisted living facility in October.