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Taylor Mead


Taylor Mead was born December 31, 1924 (VVM) in Chicago, Illinois (imdb).He was "one of the first underground film stars, starting out in North Beach in San Francisco in the fifties in Ron Rice’s film, The Flower Thief and Vern Zimmerman’s Lemon Hearts,” which Andy Warhol had seen at the Film-Makers Co-op. (POP35)

Taylor had quit his job as a broker at Merrill Lynch in Detroit when he was 22. According to Popism, Taylor Mead's father Harry Mead was the “political boss of Michigan... one of Roosevelt’s favorites, and his official title was Wayne County Democratic Chairman, but he was also head of the Liquor Control Commission and the WPA in the Detroit area. He’d made the resident partner of Merrill Lynch in Detroit the state treasurer, and so the treasurer felt obligated to give Harry Mead’s son a job. When Taylor left his stockbroker job in Detroit, he had just fifty dollars in his pocket.” (POP38) Taylor was inspired to hitchhike across the United States by Jack Kerouac's book, On the Road and Allen Ginsberg's poem, Howl.

Andy Warhol:

“Taylor was in San Francisco in ‘56 when the beat poetry scene got going.One day he stood up on a bar and over the noise all the drunks were making, started screaming some poems he’d written. Ron Rice saw that scene and began following him around, filming him with black and white war surplus film stock.” (POP39)

The result was Ron Rice's film, The Flower Thief.

Taylor Mead:

“Ron is such a devil... Stealing his girlfriends’s support checks, running off with all the theater receipts, chasing people down the street with his camera trying to film them - and everybody loves him. He took a film course once at the Cooper Union and then he made a film of people ice skating. Then together we made The Flower Thief. I had to fight him all the way to get him not to put a blue wash on it. I told him, ‘Look, Ron, in a few years that kind of thing will be over'.” (POP39)


Andy Warhol

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