Although Harris Glenn Milstead lamented that he had never intended to become a drag queen, and preferred to be known as a character actor, he has become immortalized under his stage name, which he used interchangeably with his birth name. His on-screen antics under John Waters‘ direction were notorious for breaking hygienic taboos, as in the closing scene to his breakout hit, Pink Flamingos, which featured real coprophagia. He died of cardiomegaly shortly after he had begun to transition into more mainstream films, such as the original version of Hairspray (it was his casting as Edna Turnblad that sparked the tradition of giving the role to a male actor to be performed in drag). He also dabbled in disco, recording hits such as “You Think You’re a Man.”

Divine left a sizable impression in United States pop culture. He was used as the model for Ursula in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and his grave remains a site of pilgrimage (particularly for members of the LGBT community) at which mourners can leave trinkets, or – according to Waters – have sex. His estate maintains an official website for him here.

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