Born: October 19, 1945
Died: March 7, 1988
Milstead, the cross-dressing heavyweight star of many John Waters films known as Divine, may have been plump (estimates weigh in at 370 pounds).
But he was always punctual.
On the night of March 7, fresh from the critical success of the film Hairspray and about to begin work in dual roles on the hit sitcom Married . . . With Children, Divine dined with friends. When he returned to his suite at Los Angeles’ Regency Hotel, he stepped onto the balcony of Room 261 and sang snatches of “Arrivederci Roma.”
But when Divine didn’t show up on the set, his manager went to the hotel and found his client dead in bed. An autopsy stated that Divine died in his sleep of heart failure; more specifically, an enlarged heart brought on by sleep apnea. He was 42 years old. (His autopsy reports “a large amount of partially digested pasta and other food material” was found in his body.)
His family made a simple request: Donate no money to charity in Divine’s name, but send flowers, the more the better. Huge arrangements arrived from Elton John and Polyester co-star Tab Hunter. Whoopi Goldberg’s floral tribute included a note that read, “See what a good review will do?” The funniest tribute came from the cast and crew of Married . . . With Children. It read: “If you didn’t want the job, all you had to do was say so.”
Divine is buried (under his birth and stage name) in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Towson, Maryland.
Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli