82 Things You Didn’t Know About Andy Warhol


Eighty-two years ago today, Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While the pop-art icon passed away in 1987, his legacy is still going strong. We’re toasting to Warhol’s memory with highlights from The Andy Warhol Museum‘s official chronology, as well as Warhol’s own writings. As the artist himself once wrote in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

, “Being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery.” We couldn’t agree more.

1. Andy Warhol’s father Andrei Warhola worked construction and labor jobs; Andrei’s wife Julia earned spare cash by cleaning houses and selling handmade crafts while raising their three sons: Paul, John, and Andrew.

2. Warhol contracted Sydenham’s chorea as a young boy, and was confined to his home for more than two months. The illness is characterized by rapid, uncontrollable movements brought on by rheumatic fever, and is sometimes referred to as “St. Vitus’s dance.”

3. Warhol’s mother encouraged her nine-year-old to explore his interest in art and popular culture while he was sick, so Warhol began to collect photos of movie stars.

4. He’d also take his own pictures and develop them in his parents’ basement, which he used as a darkroom.

5. In elementary school, Warhol attended free Saturday art classes at the Carnegie Institute.

Unknown photographer, Andy Warhol, c. 1950s, black and white photograph, from the collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, © AWF

6. Before his death in 1942, Andrei Warhola specified that his son should use Andrei’s life savings in postal bonds for Andy’s college education.

7. As a teenager, Warhol worked a summer job in the display department at the Joseph Horne department store in downtown Pittsburgh.

8. Warhol was art editor of his college’s student magazine Cano.

9. Andy Warhol’s first assignment was for Glamour magazine: an article called “Success is a Job in New York.”

Andy Warhol, The Broad Gave Me My Face, But I Can Pick My Own Nose, 1948, collection Paul Warhola Family, courtesy the Warhola Family Website

10. A 21-year-old Warhol’s painting The Broad Gave Me My Face, But I Can Pick My Own Nose was rejected for the annual exhibition of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh.

11. From 1949 to 1959, Warhol worked for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, The New Yorker, and other high-profile clients.

Andy Warhol, The Nation’s Nightmare, 1951, © AWF/Artists Rights Society, New York/DACS, London. Courtesy AWF and National Galleries of Scotland and Tate

12. Warhol won the Art Directors Club Medal for his 1951 newspaper illustrations advertising a CBS radio show, The Nation’s Nightmare.

13. In 1954, Warhol started to hang out at the Serendipity 3 café on East 58th Street, which had opened the same year.

14. Warhol hired his first studio assistant Nathan Gluck in 1955. He would later hire Gerard Malanga, who would work as his studio assistant from 1963 to 1968.

15. Gerard Malanga was arrested in Italy in 1968 for forging Warhol’s paintings.

16. Warhol once showed five paintings in a window display at New York’s Bonwit Teller department store.

17. His favorite thing to buy was underwear.

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1964, from the collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, © AWF

18. At 29, Warhol had a nose job.

19. Warhol said that he adopted his gray-haired look while in his 20s so that people would notice how young he looked in the face.

Andy Warhol, Julia Warhola, 1974, silkscreen ink and synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 40 x 40 in., from the collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, © AWF

20. Julia Warhola moved to New York to live with her son in 1952. Warhol and his mother would live together until 1971, a year before she passed away.

21. His mother often contributed artistically to Warhol’s paintings, and would sometimes sign them for him.

22. Warhol was a self-proclaimed “mama’s boy.”

23. Warhol published an absurdist cookbook in 1959 with Suzie Frankfurth called Wild Raspberries

, inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 film, Wild Strawberries .

24. Warhol enjoyed eating alone, and wanted to open a chain of restaurants called “ANDY-MATS — ‘The Restaurant for the Lonely Person.'”

25. Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol met in Pasadena in 1963, when Warhol was exhibiting his paintings of Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis Presley. The Andy Warhol Museum‘s current exhibit Twisted Pair: Marcel Duchamp/Andy Warhol, investigates the two artists’ relationship.

Dennis Hopper, Andy Warhol (with flower), 1963 © The Dennis Hopper Trust, courtesy of MoCA, the Dennis Hopper Trust, and Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York

26. While Warhol was in LA, Dennis Hopper threw him a “movie star party.”

27. Warhol designed the costumes for the 1963 Broadway production of James Thurber’s The Beast in Me, but wasn’t credited because he wasn’t a union member.

28. The New York City Police Department confiscated Andy Warhol films Jack Smith filming Normal Love (1963). The film was later lost.

29. Warhol rented an abandoned firehouse as a painting studio before moving to the original Factory in 1964 on 231 East 47th Street.

30. Warhol’s mural for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, Thirteen Most Wanted Men , had to be painted over after officials objected to it. Warhol covered it in silver paint.

31. The first film Warhol made with live sound was called Harlot (1964).

32. Warhol received the Independent Film Award from Jonas Mekas’ avant-garde film periodical, Film Culture .

33. In 1965, Warhol announced that he was retiring from art and planning to devote himself to film.

34. Warhol was the first artist to publicly exhibit video art.

35. In a 1966 issue of Village Voice , Warhol took out the following ad: “I’ll endorse with my name any of the following; clothing AC-DC, cigarettes small, tapes, sound equipment, ROCK N’ ROLL RECORDS, anything, film, and film equipment, Food, Helium, Whips, MONEY!! love and kisses ANDY WARHOL, EL 5-9941.”

36. Warhol designed the cover of the Velvet Underground and Nico’s 1967 self-titled debut album, which featured a banana with vinyl skin that peeled off.

37. Warhol also designed the poster for the 5th New York Film Festival.

Andy on the set of Lonesome Cowboys from the collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, © AWF

38. The FBI reported on Warhol’s activities while he was on location in Arizona for his film, Lonesome Cowboys , in 1967.

39. While Warhol was on a college lecture tour, he enlisted his friend Allen Midgette to impersonate him during several appearances.

Andy Warhol, Cow, 1966, from the collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, © AWF

40. Warhol created a TV ad for the “Underground Sundae” for Schrafft’s restaurant chain in 1968.

41. He hated eating leftovers.

42. Warhol was a regular volunteer at homeless shelters in New York City.

43. Valerie Solanas, an author who had appeared in one of Warhol’s films, shot art critic Mario Amaya and Andy Warhol at the Factory in 1968.

44. Warhol was reportedly dead on arrival to the hospital, but was revived after five hours of surgery.

45. The bullet damaged his lungs, esophagus, spleen, liver, and stomach.

The Andy Warhol Museum, gallery 507, 5th Floor, June 1994, Silver Clouds, 1966

46. Merce Cunningham‘s dance RainForest featured Warhol’s Silver Clouds as part of the set design.

47. Warhol curated a show with items from the storage rooms at the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design called Raid the Icebox I with Andy Warhol.

48. Warhol collected taxidermy, and owned a stuffed lion, peacock, penguin, moose head, and a Great Dane, Cecil.

49. Cecil was actually called Ador Tipp Topp, and was a blue-ribbon winner at Westminster. After the Great Dane died, he was stuffed by a taxidermist at Yale, and eventually sold to a drama student for $10.

Cecil and the Time Capsules in the Archive Study Center of The Andy Warhol Museum

50. Warhol bought “Cecil” for $300 in the late ’60s, believing he had once belonged to Cecil B. deMille.

51. Cecil stood guard at the Factory’s door from 1969 to 1987.

52. In conjunction with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art‘s Art and Technology Program, Warhol created Rain Machine, an installation with a water shower and 3D lenticular prints of flowers.

53. Warhol acquired his first portable video camera in 1970.

54. In a collaboration with Craig Braun, Warhol designed the cover of the 1971 Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers.

55. The album cover was nominated for a Grammy Award.

56. Warhol would compulsively record his conversations, and referred to his tape recorder as his “wife.”

57. His play Pork was based on his tape recordings, and was performed in London and New York.

58. Filmmaker Paul Morrissey and Andy Warhol acquired a 20-acre compound in Montauk, Long Island, where they would entertain friends.

59. The IRS audited Warhol every year from 1972 until his death in 1987.

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait with Movie Camera, 1971, from the collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, © AWF

60. In the early ’70s, Warhol removed the films he had directed from circulation.

61. Warhol appeared in the 1973 film The Driver’s Seat with Elizabeth Taylor.

62. Warhol produced the 1975 musical Man on the Moon; John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas wrote the book, music, and lyrics.

63. An exhibition of Warhol’s folk art collection, Andy Warhol’s “Folk and Funk,” was held at the Museum of American Folk Art (now the American Folk Art Museum) in 1977.

64. From the ’50s through the ’70s, Andy always kept a standard-size cardboard box beside his desk that he would fill with interesting ephemera. Each box would be taped and dated when it was full. At the time of his death, Andy had assembled over 600 of these “time capsules.”

65. Salvador Dali once gave Warhol a full bag of used palettes, which Warhol put in one of his time capsules.

66. Warhol hand-painted an M1 BMW racing car for the 24-hour Le Mans race in 1979.

67. Warhol created two cable television shows: Andy Warhol’s TV in 1982 and Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes for MTV in 1986.

68. He produced and starred in three one-minute episodes of Andy Warhol’s TV for Saturday Night Live in 1981.

69. In the ’80s, Warhol was represented by Zoli, a modeling agency.

Andy Warhol, Self Portrait, 1986 (blue), from the collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, © AWF

70. When painting self-portraits, Warhol would deliberately leave out any blemishes.

71. Warhol designed the official poster for the Brooklyn Bridge Centennial.

72. He starred in a 1983 television commercial for Japanese electronic manufacturer TDK.

73. Working with collaborator Don Munroe, Warhol made a music video for “Hello Again” by The Cars in 1984. He also appeared in the video.

74. Warhol guest-starred in the 200th episode of The Love Boat in 1985.

75. He also appeared in a TV ad for Diet Coke.

76. Warhol optioned the film and TV rights to Tama Janowitz’s 1986 novel Slaves of New York.

77. His nickname and drag-queen alter-ego was “Drella,” a combination of “Dracula” and “Cinderella.”

Andy Warhol, Self-portrait in Drag, © AWF, courtesy the Getty Research Institute

78. Warhol collaborated with Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, and Keith Haring in the 1980s.

79. During this time, Warhol and a group of his friends bought 2000 bottles of Dom Pérignon to be consumed on the millennium.

80. Andy Warhol died February 22, 1987 while in recovery from gallbladder surgery.

81. After his death, the 2000 bottles of champagne disappeared.

82. The Design Laboratory at Central Saint Martin’s School of Art & Design have since unveiled their collection of three Dom Pérignon bottles, A Tribute to Andy Warhol. Cheers, Andy, and happy birthday. Now, down the hatch.