One Of John Waters’ Most Memorable Actresses Just Passed Away

In the filthy world of John Waters characters, it’s hard to stand out for hideousness alone.

After years of murderous drag queens — and even murderous housewives — John has a dizzying number of memorable cast members. So many, in fact, that it can be hard for a Waters bit part to stick.

Kim McGuire, who passed away on Wednesday, was an exception. Her appearance as Mona “Hatchetface” Malnorowski in Cry Baby — generally cited as one of John’s most mainstream movies — was show-stealing even next to a young Johnny Depp. Scaring children and convicts alike, she was a perfect addition to the Waters version of 1950s greaser culture.

As the name suggest, Hatchetface looked like, yes, someone had taken a hatchet to her face. The character was originally conceived for a full film slated for drag queen Divine, but thankfully, a replacement was found in Kim.

John’s body of work, marked by a fascination with bad taste, often pushed actors and actresses into such uncomfortable roles. In an essay written about Waters’ foray into the mainstream with Cry Baby, film critic Pat Aufderheide spoke with McGuire, who said that she wasn’t afraid to play ugly.

“I just think of Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice.”

While Kim McGuire landed a few bit parts in forgotten ’90s films, the John Waters comedy was undoubtedly her biggest. Additionally, she also worked for another iconic director in the short-lived TV flop On the Air, created by Twin Peaks duo David Lynch and Mark Frost.

Although she didn’t get another role quite as memorable as Hatchetface, Kim’s career lived on through her foul-mouthed part. John’s Cry Baby is now considered an essential slice of offbeat ’90s comedy, the kind of cult movie that, no doubt, thousands of fans can recite by heart. When a small cast reunion, which included Johnny Depp and Traci Lords, took place in 2005, Waters remarked that it was the first time he’d seen McGuire since filming.

“We found all the people today, including Hatchetface. I hadn’t seen Hatchetface since we made the movie almost 20 years ago. She looked great, she looked like a regular middle-aged woman. But she looked very different to how she does in the movie, so it was kind of startling.”

Despite the fact that she holds a spot on the altar of the cult of John, the final years of Kim’s life were marked by personal tragedy. McGuire and her husband, Gene, had to swim out of their New Orleans home when Hurricane Katrina hit, losing almost everything in the process.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to cover final expenses related to her death, which was verified by both the official Waters and Divine pages.

“What many people don’t know is Kim was accomplished in so many other feats as well. She flourished in theater and passed the BAR [exam] to become an attorney in multiple states. Much of this came tumbling down when Hurricane Katrina hit.”

In light of her death, Kim McGuire won’t be reviving her role as Hatchetface anytime soon. Not that John would have a part for her — or anyone else. The director’s last film A Dirty Shame was released more than a decade ago, and as he told IndieWire, a new addition to the Waters canon is unlikely.

“I’ve had three development deals that didn’t happen. I got paid by Hollywood three separate times. Once to write ‘Fruitcake,’ I pitched it. I had an old development deal. That was with Picturehouse and New Line. Then, they all changed, Bob Shaye went in there, and that whole thing changed. I got paid by NBC-TV to write ‘Hairspray’ as a TV series. They treated me very well, but it didn’t happen. I was recently paid by HBO to do the sequel to ‘Hairspray,’ which didn’t happen. I’m not complaining. Hollywood has treated me very fairly.”

Fans of Kim McGuire looking to memorialize her life with a viewing of the John Waters classic won’t be able to find it streaming on Netflix, though a petition does exist that’s pushing to get it there.

[Featured Image by Kris Connor/Getty Images]

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