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Pat Ast

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Pat Ast was born on October 21, 1941 in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Her father at one time was a Borscht Belt comedian who later ran a paint store in the Bronx. Pat had hopes of becoming a singer. When she attended Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn she allegedly won first place in the school's singing competition. The second place winner was fellow classmate Barbra Streisand.

While in Fire Island, at the home of either the fashion designer Stephen Burrows or the interior designer Angelo Donghia, Ast met two men who would be instrumental to her career - director John Schlesinger and fashion designer Halston.

John Schlesinger gave Ast her first movie role - a walk-on part as a party guest in Midnight Cowboy - paying her $112.00 and making it possible for her to get her actors union card. Halston was so amused by her that he gave her a job at his boutique - rescuing her from her job as a receptionist at a box factory.

pat ast in andy warhol's heat

Ast filmed Heat in June/July 1971. She moved permanently to Hollywood in 1975 to pursue a film career, sporadically appearing in films such as The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper, with Robert Duvall, Foul Play, The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox, The Possession of Joel Delaney and Reform School Girls in which she played a sadistic lesbian warden.

She supposedly "loathed" Los Angeles and returned to New York when she landed the role as La Saraghina in the Broadway musical Nine. However she was fired three months into rehearsal for "trying to take over the show."

She returned to L.A., working on friends' films and maintained a longstanding friendship with Berry Berenson who was living on the West Coast with her husband, actor Anthony Perkins. Ast grew closer to Berenson after the death of her friends and mentors, Bob Young and Halston (both from AIDS related complications). According to Halston's sister, Ast would "mention his [Halston] dying every time we spoke... She clung to me because I was the closest link to Halston."

Ast was "deeply affected" when Berenson was killed on American Airlines Flight 11 during the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. "Unbeknownst to Ast, Berenson had been mobilizing Ast's friends to fly her to New York for the launch of a new book on Halston which coincided with Ast's 60th birthday on October 21."

Berenson never completed her preparations for the launch and Ast never made it to her 60th birthday. Ast had fought a lifelong battle with diabetes which had worsened over the last decade of her life, resulting in amputation of her toes which left her unable to drive and dependent on friends to get around.

"Three weeks after Berenson's death, Ast's neighbors noticed that the newspapers were piling up outside her door and that she hadn't been out to walk the dogs in a couple of days. Concerned, they called a friend of Ast's, who found she had passed away on her bed. Above the bed was an oversize poster she had made from a photograph of her and her beloved Halston; he in a tuxedo, she in a sequined Halston muumuu."

There were two memorial services. Guests included Richard Benjamin and his wife Paula Prentiss, Bud Court (Harold and Maude), Pee-Wee Herman (aka Paul Reubens) and Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn. (NYT1)

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Andy Warhol