He was right. After some time in the Warhol Factory, young girls started imitating Edie’s style. She was dressed by designers and photographed for Vogue and Life magazines. She was written about in gossip columns, her photographs appeared in The Times. She had a name for herself, separate and distinct from Warhol’s, but the two created 18 films together, countless audio tapes, and endless dramatic entrances at parties. The two star-crossed friends parted ways in 1966, at least for a time, when the business of filmmaking and her personal fame grew complicated.
It was at that time that Sedgwick fell into a serious relationship with visual artist, musician and film producer Bob Neuwirth and seemingly disappeared from the Warhol scene. In April 1966, Edie made her first non-Warhol film with Neuwirth though rumors absconded about her flirtations and alleged relationship with Bob Dylan. Rumors they were; according to David Weisman, co-author of “Edie: Girl on Fire”, Neuwirth was undoubtedly the love of her life.
By the end of that year, Sedgwick started to spiral downward. It was a tailspin she would never recover from. She even accidentally set fire to her home and the hotel she moved to.
During a holiday visit home to California, Sedgwick ended up in a psychiatric hospital yet again. Neuwirth rescued her from that situation, but left her shortly thereafter. That’s when she began using heroin.
In 1967, Sedgwick began her work with David Weisman, John Palmer and others from a Warhol Factory splinter group on the semi-autobiographical “Ciao! Manhattan.” In the film, Edie portrayed her alter-ego Susan, a washed out, junked out former model reliving her days on top of the world from a literal pit of despair in the bottom of an empty swimming pool.
The movie’s intentionally paralleled Sedgwick’s own life. She often repeated to Weisman and Palmer during filming that “It must be real. If it isn’t real, there is no movie,” according to Painter.
Filming began in New York, easily recognizable in the black and white scenes of the movie, however both the script and the production were left unfinished. Edie kept escaping to California, the leading actor, Paul America, disappeared, and so did all funding for the film.
Sedgwick dabbled in miscellaneous projects but ended up hospitalized several more times before a overdose nearly left her for dead in 1968. Later that year, her mother brought her home to California andSedgwick never again returned to New York.
The “Ciao! Manhattan” filmmakers were then scattered around the world; a few had abandoned the project altogether. But Weisman secured financing to revitalize the project and together with Palmer saw the color shoot through to completion. They audiotaped Edie to allow her stories to guide their vision of the finished product. Sedgwick would not live to see the final film but the tapes would allow her to live on.
Edie’s death in 1971 did not come as a surprise to many of her close friends. During the first half of the year, Edie had undergone repeated electroshock therapy. In July she married Michael Post, a guy deemed â€˜sweet’ by her circle’s standards, whom she’d met when she first returned to California. On Nov. 15, after a night of drinking to excess, Post woke up beside Edie’s dead body. According to Palmer, Post called him that morning and said “she’d been taking something, or she’d had too much of something, or something like that and she just never woke up.”
On the “Ciao! Manhattan” tapes, Sedgwick admits, “Everything I did was motivated by psychological disturbance.”
Rene Ricard, poet, artist, storyteller, art critic, and long-term resident of the Chelsea hotel, said about Edie: "She was the girl on fire! And â€¦ I didn’t mean it literally! I mean it figuratively. She shimmered, she shone and fame has so much to do with it."