You can see the magic in him

Andy Warhol with Archie, his pet Dachshund
Photo: Jack Mitchell

Each weekday at 9 a.m., beginning in November 1976 and continuing until just days before his death in 1987, Andy Warhol would engage in a lengthy phone call with Pat Hackett, a close friend who had initially started working for him as a typist in 1968. During his conversations with “Miss Diary,” Warhol would regale her with tales of the previous day’s experiences, capturing even the tiniest details. As directed by Warhol, she would then diligently transcribe his account and add it to a pile that ultimately grew to 20,000 manuscript pages. One such entry comes from March 1977—a day on which Warhol met 23-year-old John Travolta, a rising star in the world of television whose breakthrough film, Saturday Night Fever, would premiere months later. Tragically, this week Travolta had lost his partner, Diana Hyland, to breast cancer.

The Diary Entry

Tuesday, March 29, 1977—Los Angeles—New York

Got the American 1:00 plane to New York. Noticed Paddy Chayevsky being driven on a little cart to the plane while we walked. Lots of people from the Academy Awards getting on the plane. The first class took up practically half the plane first time I saw it so full, really interesting. John Travolta from Welcome Back, Kotter walked by, sort of said hi to me, sat in front of me. Paddy Chayevsky told the stewardess he wanted to sleep all during the trip, not to wake him up, but he woke up five minutes after the plane was in the air.

John Travolta kept going to the bathroom, coming out with his eyes bright red, drinking orange juice and liquor in a paper cup, and he put his head in a pillow and started crying. I saw him reading a script, too, so I thought he was acting.

Really cute and sensitive-looking, very tall, comes off looking too fairy-ish, like too many people around now, but very good-looking. You can see the magic in him. I asked the stewardess why he was crying and she said “death in the family” so I thought it was a mother or father, until I picked up the paper at home and found out that it was Diana Hyland who’d died of cancer at forty-one, soap-opera queen, his steady date.

Dropped Fred and Todd Brassner (cab $27). Cab fares had gone up.

Further Reading

Those 20,000 transcribed pages were eventually edited down by Pat Hackett to a much less daunting 800 and published posthumously, in 1989, as The Andy Warhol Diaries. A Penguin Modern Classics edition arrived in 2010. In 2022, the diaries became an Emmy-nominated documentary series on Netflix in which Warhol narrates his own entries, virtually, thanks to the magic of AI.

Diary entry excerpted from THE ANDY WARHOL DIARIES by Andy Warhol. Copyright © 1989, The Estate of Andy Warhol, used by permission of The Wylie Agency (UK) Limited.

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