A few years prior to the documentary being made people were shocked to find these two American aristocrats living in filth and povery, and about to be evicted from Grey Gardens, which was deemed unsafe by the local council.
In their hey day, Grey Gardens was the Bouvier-Beale's Hamptons retreat, but when Big Edie's husband left her, she was virtually penniless. She got by by selling off her jewellery. Following so far?
In 1952 Little Edie, who was trying to establish a career as a beautiful young actress in New York was called back to East Hampton to care for her mother, since the staff were all long gone.
By the time the documentary was made, Little Edie had been caring for her mother for 23 years, having sacrificed any chance she may have had of becoming an actress.
The pair had been living for a long time with no money. Having come from serious old money, the two of them were incapable of fending for themselves.
Little Edie's talent lay in her dress sense and style. Her style was innate, and her dress sense was born out of necessity. She would wear her skirts upside down, and always her trademark head skarf. She layered clothes (way ahead of her time) and wore black stockings with white shoes - a strong look, but she pulled it off.
This is the famous scene from Grey Gardens below, where Little Edie, the quintessential eccentric, does a dance for the camera with the American flag. We could all learn something from Little Edie's confidence, look at her whooping it up in these brown bummies.
Her physical appearance and her circumstances also remind me a bit of Gwennie. Gwennie was never married either, and instead stayed at home to care for her father after her mother died.
****Big Edie died in 1977 and the house was put on the market. Little Edie would only sell it to someone who wouldn't knock it down.
In 1979, along came Ben Bradlee, former Editor of the Washington Post, and his wife journalist Sally Quinn, who bought Grey Gardens for $220,000.
Little Edie left Grey Gardens with only a few possessions. Nearly everything remained when the new owners took possession.
This is what they started with, below. There were 52 cat skeletons in the house. When Sally Quinn touched a key on the piano below, the whole thing fell to the ground.
Sally Quinn had almost all the furniture left in the house restored and it's still in use.
Sally Quinn also had this cabinet below restored along with all the figurines in it.
The kitchen, below.
They also restored the gardens. This is what it looks like today, and how it would have looked when Big Edie was throwing her lavish parties in the 1930s. Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn still own Grey Gardens. Their guests have described it as 'magical.'