Eve Babitz, the famed writer and artist who chronicled 1960s and ‘70s Hollywood’s culture of glamor and excess, died yesterday in Los Angeles of Huntington’s disease complications. She was 78. Her passing was confirmed today by her biographer, Lili Anolik, to the Associated Press.
Babitz was born in 1943 in Hollywood, California, to a classical violinist father and artist mother. After graduating Hollywood High School, she soon began designing album covers for late-1960s Atlantic Records musicians like Linda Ronstadt, The Byrds, and the collage art for Buffalo Springfield’s Buffalo Springfield Again.
Upon Didion’s recommendation, Babitz began writing for Rolling Stone in 1971, and would go on to contribute essays, memoirs, as well as fictions blurring the two for publications including Esquire, Cosmopolitan, and Vogue. She became a notable figure in the ‘60s and ‘70s Hollywood scene both through her own relationships and the ones she helped foster. In addition to dating celebrities and musicians like Jim Morrison (whom she tried to convince to avoiding name his band The Doors), Harrison Ford, Steve Martin (whose white suit was her suggestion), and Stephen Stills, she also introduced Frank Zappa to Salvador Dali.
Babitz’s confessional, celebratory depictions of L.A. and its celebrity figures like Jack Nicholson, Andy Warhol, Joan Didion, and Dennis Hopper became a staple of the era in which she wrote. Some of her most notable works include Eve’s Hollywood, Sex and Rage, L.A. Woman, Two By Two, Black Swans, and Slow Days, Fast Company.
“My secret ambition has always been to be a spinster,” Babitz once wrote, an example of the acerbic, often self-deprecating humor that often permeated her work.
While Babitz’s book sales were never meteoric, a 2014 Vanity Fair profile by her biographer prompted a late career resurgence in popularity as younger generations rediscovered her writings through re-printings of her past books.
In 2017, a Hulu series based on her memoirs was in production, and Lili Anolik’s biography of Babitz, Hollywood’s Eve, was published in 2019 to widespread acclaim.
Babitz is survived by her sister.