Monday, November 26, 2012

The Suicide of Terry Gionoffrio - September 1967

Though her resemblance to the actress Victoria Vetri was a matter of some debate among the tenants at the Bramford, there's no argument that the troubled Terry Gionoffrio was like a daughter to us. Ask anyone. Terry moved into the building in 1966, after making a large sum of money posing nude for several high-end men's magazines under the evocative alias Angela Dorian. She was sure as could be that Hollywood stardom was within her reach & we nurtured her ambitions while trying to keep her grounded. Her father & mother were immigrants from Italy who'd died in a drunk driving accident on the Pacific Coast Highway many years earlier, leaving Terry a starry-eyed orphan with all kinds of gumption but very little common sense. 

After posing in her natural state for the magazines, she'd wisely chosen to "mature" in Manhattan, where she could easily bury her ribald past in a slew of acting, painting & guitar lessons. We took to her immediately, drawn to both her aura of loneliness & her fierce, vivacious will to succeed. Having studied under Stanislavski herself as a teenager, Minnie coached Terry in acting & leavened the melodramatic seriousness of 60s method acting classes with some real-world practicality & wit (Minnie's specialty). Terry had the keys to our apartment, came & went as she pleased & filled the role of the child we never had with such ease we were barely conscious of it happening. That is, until she jumped from our window onto 72nd Street one autumn evening while we were seeing Jules Feiffer's doomed play Little Murders on Broadway & grieved us to the bone with her sudden, inexplicable self-destruction. 

Later, when the precious gamine Rosemary Woodhouse became the object of our attentions, she was kind enough to impart to us something Terry had told her once while they folded laundry together: "They picked me up off the sidewalk, literally...I was starving and on dope and doing a lot of other things. They're childless though. I'm like the daughter they never had. At first, I thought they wanted me for some kind of a sex thing but they turned out to be like real grandparents...I'd be dead now if it wasn't for them. That's an absolute fact. Dead or in jail." To some degree, this put our hearts at ease. 

Several photographs of Terry Gionoffrio posing as Angela Dorian
Rosemary with Terry Gionoffrio in the laundry room of the Bramford
Rosemary & Terry at a get-together in the Woodhouse apartment


  1. Boy those tiger skin rug photos of her are STUNNING.