This week PBS’s documentary series Independent Lens takes a look at a bizarre but factual story concerning an aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. The story actually has its roots in the shocking documentary that was released in 1975 simply titled Grey Gardens. The film revealed that that Edith Beale and her daughter Edie were living in abject poverty in a rambling and crumbling 28 room mansion in East Hampton. The women it turned out were the black sheep of the family and had been cast aside years previously by the family, and were living on nothing more than a very small trust fund.

Thirty years after the original documentary aired their story made it to the Broadway stage, this PBS film takes us backstage and shows us how the creative process unfolded. Interspersed with clips from the original Grey Gardens and interviews with Albert Maysles and others we get to once again meet the unforgettable Beale ladies. Slightly off kilter they may be, eccentric, certainly, these are two women who definitely leave an impression.

You can catch the premier of Grey Gardens: From East Hampton To Broadway on your local PBS station at 10pm on Tuesday Dec/23. There is also a web page dedicated to the program that contains a great deal of additional material.

Simon Barrett

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