Transgender performer who became known for her role in the 1994 ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’, Lady Chablis, has died aged 59.
The star’s death was confirmed by her sister Cynthia Ponder. She died at Candler Hospital and according to a close friend Cale Hall, she died from pneumonia after a month-long stay in the hospital.
The Lady Chablis became an unlikely star after her performance in the best-selling 1994 novel and after playing herself in a 1997 adaptation to film, directed by Clint Eastwood.
“The legacy that she wanted to leave was one of ‘believe in who you are and never let the world change who you are,'”says Ponder . “Love yourself first and respect yourself first and others will love and respect you.”
After starring in the book and film, Chablis published her ‘Hiding my Candy’ autobiography.
In the 1994 book by John Berendt, Chablis says: “I dance, I do lip sync, and I emcee… My mama got the name Chablis off a wine bottle. She didn’t think it up for me though. It was supposed to be for my sister.”
Chablis had performed at Club One in downtown Savannah since 1988.
“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,” Club One said in a statement Thursday.
“Chablis always wanted to give the audience, be it 15 or 1500, the best that she had,” the club added in the statement. “With her declining health, she regretted that her body wouldn’t allow her to give more.”
She had performed on 6 August at the club before she was hospitalised.
Berendt also sid that Chablis “had a very tough inner core,” despite appearances.
“She would always say, ‘Don’t be fooled by this dress I’m wearing,'” Berendt said.
“When Clint Eastwood announced he was doing the movie, Chablis made an announcement of her own. She said, ‘If I’m not cast as myself in that movie, there won’t be a movie.’ So he cast Chablis as Chablis.”