New Orleans socialite Mickey Easterling attended her own funeral wake. The 83-year-old described by many as a “flamboyant philanthropist” passed away on April 14, but left instructions that being stretched out in a coffin was not the way she wanted to be remembered.
Mickey Easterling was positioned in a comfortable chair, dressed in an outfit suitable for a swanky cocktail party – drink in one hand and cigarette in the other. The New Orleans socialite’s wake was held at the Sanger Theater on Tuesday. Mourners at Mickey Easterling’s wake numbered in the thousands, and included renowned musician Allen Tousaint.
The deceased’s daughter, Nanci Myke Easterling, had this to say about her mother attending her own wake in New Orleans:
“It’s a really nice way to say, ‘The party’s over.’ She loved the limelight. She loved the attention. She was flamboyant, She had flair. She was outrageous.”
Mickey Easterling’s makeup artist made sure to dress her “specifically” for the occasion. The artist, Sandy Steele, said, “My goal was to make her look even prettier than she was in real life. Because she was a larger than life person.”
The eccentric Crescent City resident had left a very detailed list of rules regarding her funeral arrangements. Easterling noted that she wanted her body to be propped up on an iron bench overlooking the wake activities. She also ordered those in charge of preparing her ensemble to adorn her body in a bright pink boa and attach a rhinestone pin that read “B***h.”
The NOLA socialite’s wake reminded many of Lionel Batiste’s funeral in 2012. The incredibly talented drummer for the Treme Brass Band, whom many referred to as, “Uncle Lionel” was propped against a faux streetlamp wearing a suit and sunglasses.
Mickey Easterling was known around New Orleans for not just her dramatic hats and grand lifestyle, but also for her cultural, civic, and political activism. She quietly passed away at her lakefront home and then the “party to celebrate her life” was scheduled. The list of civic groups Easterling was involved around New Orleans is nearly endless and included two children’s hospitals and Katrina renovation.
Her reported age was not released by her family, who declined to pin a figure on the years Mickey spent on Earth. “Age is a number, and mine’s unlisted,” Easterling is noted as saying. The flamboyant socialite was born Marycathyren Gambino.
When hosting fundraisers in her New Orleans home, Mickey Easterling welcomed guests such as General Wesley Clark, actor Larry Hagman, and singers Robert Goulet and Paul Simon. She was known for her infectious laugh and “distinctive voice” many credit to years spent sipping on champagne and smoking. The modern day Mae West figure once told a friend, “Darling, don’t be afraid to be original,” a piece of superb advice for all young women.