The Lady Chablis, beloved transgender entertainer from 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,' dead at 59

By Karen Butler  |  Updated Sept. 8, 2016 at 8:00 PM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- The Lady Chablis, a transgender entertainer who played herself in the true-crime film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, has died at the age of 59.

The New York Times reported she had been performing up until last month and died in Savannah Thursday after a bout of pneumonia.

Midnight was a 1997, fact-based film based on John Berendt's book and directed by Clint Eastwood. In it, John Cusack played a writer who stumbles into a homicide while in Georgia to cover the Christmas party of a wealthy local played by Kevin Spacey. The Lady Chablis was one of the town's many, charming and eccentric characters he meets.

"The Lady chablis, who stole hearts - and the spotlight - in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, passed this morning surrounded by friends and family," said a posting on the Facebook page of Club One, the Savannah hotspot where The Lady Chablis often performed.

"In his Best Selling novel, known in Savannah as The Book, John Berendt wrote that when he first met The Lady Chablis, "she had both hands on her hips and a sassy half-smile on her face," a pose that would grace many stages," the message continued. "Just as The Book shined the spotlight on Savannah, so too did Chablis shine the spotlight on the gay scene, and especially on Club One. She was Club One's very first entertainer, officiating our grand opening in 1988, and paving the way for female impersonation in Savannah. No one, however, could outshine the Grand Empress herself. With the success of 'The Book,' Chablis shot to stardom. She was a guest on Good Morning America, and was interviewed by Oprah. She insisted to USA Today that she would play herself in the movie - or there would not be one. She'd be the first to tell you that she stole the show in Clint Eastwood's 1997 adaptation. Since then, thousands of visitors have come to Savannah, visiting the locations in The Book, and crowding into Club One to see her."

One of her own Facebook posts in January reflected her personality and distinctive manner of speech.

"Hi gang! Believe it or not but I have gained so much weight I can't fit in my regal, classy, size 0-8 gowns. So they are up for sale. I have jewelry, channel bags, etc. Hit the Doll up if you may be interested. Thank you in advance, Lady Chablis," she wrote.

She was also the author of the memoir Hiding My Candy.

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