Divine

Active - 1966 - 1988  |   Born - Oct 19, 1945 in Baltimore, Maryland, United States  |   Died - Mar 7, 1988 in Hollywood, CA  |   Genres - Comedy

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Biography

Drag-queen and cult-movie star Divine, born Harris Glenn Milstead, was a high-school acquaintance of John Waters in the early '60s. Waters indulged his chubby friend's penchant for crossdressing, and Divine's acting career was launched with Water's first films in the mid '60s, Roman Candles and Eat Your Makeup both filmed while Divine still worked as a hairdresser. As Waters' work became more funny and outrageous with Mondo Trasho(1969) and Multiple Maniacs(1970), Divine's performances became richer and wilder; the two achieved immortality with the outrageously raunchy cult classic Pink Flamingos(1972) in which Divine competes to become the "World's Filthiest Person." They continued working together during the late '70s and into the '80s making two of their best films, Female Trouble(1974) and Polyester(1981). Divine also began appearing for other filmmakers, playing a woman in Paul Bartel's Lust in the Dust(1985) and shedding his feminine garb to play a man in Alan Rudolph's Trouble in Mind(1986). In his/her last appearance for Waters's, Hairspray(1988), Divine played a dual role, one male, one female, and was quite effective in both parts.Those who could get past the unremitting weirdness of Divine's performance discovered that the actor/actress had genuine talent, including a natural sense of comic timing and an uncanny gift for slapstick. In 1989 Divine died suddenly of an enlarged heart at the age of 42 while preparing for a guest appearance on Fox TV's Married...With Children.

Movie Highlights

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Factsheet

  • Worked as a hairdresser in a salon he operated before turning to acting.
  • Met John Waters in the mid-1960s and joined the aspiring filmmaker's ensemble of actors known as the Dreamlanders; Waters rechristened him Divine.
  • Made first screen appearance in Waters' short film Roman Candles in 1966 as a smoking nun; went on to star in nine other movies directed by Waters, all in drag.
  • Became a cult icon after appearing in Pink Flamingos, where he famously ate dog feces at the end of the movie.
  • Created a successful stage act and appeared in plays, most notably Women Behind Bars, off-Broadway in New York.
  • Became a successful disco singer in the 1980s and recorded several albums.
  • Was the inspiration for the design of Ursula the Sea Witch in Disney's The Little Mermaid (1989).
  • Named "Drag Queen of the Century" by People magazine after his death.