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The Lady Chablis, Star of ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ and Drag Icon, Dies at 59

The Lady Chablis, who was featured in John Berendt’s 1994 book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and the 1997 film adaptation, died Thursday. She was 59.

Club One, the Savannah Georgia venue where Chablis performed her revue, posted the following message on their Facebook page:

“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. In his best-selling novel, known in Savannah as ‘The Book,’ John Berendt wrote that when he first met The Lady Chablis, ‘she had both hands on her hips and a sassy half-smile on her face,’ a pose that would grace many stages … Chablis always wanted to give the audience, be it 15 or 1500, the best that she had. With her declining health, she regretted that her body wouldn’t allow her to give more.”

Berendt wrote Chablis into his best-selling novel — a tale of Southern murder and intrigue — which was adapted for the big screen by Clint Eastwood.

After learning of her passing, the author paid tribute to his muse, saying she was the “Midnight” character he was most often asked about.

“She’ll be remembered for her outrageous profanity-laced spontaneity and for being one of the first up-front transsexual personalities to be accepted by a wide audience,” Berendt wrote. “When it was announced that Clint Eastwood would direct a movie of the book, Chablis was only half-joking when she said, ‘If I’m not cast as myself in that movie, there won’t be a movie!'”

In 1996, Chablis released her autobiography, “Hiding My Candy.” She was also featured on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” where she “read” the cast and called out their flaws.

Chablis was born Benjamin Edward Knox. According to Club One, she is survived by her sister, Cynthia.

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