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Andy Warhol's Mormon sidekick, Ultra Violet, laid to rest

Published June 18, 2014 7:12 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

French-born Isabelle Collin Dufresne, aka Andy Warhol's sidekick, Ultra Violet, was among the most unlikely Mormon converts ever.

She died Saturday at age 78 and her funeral was held Wednesday in an LDS chapel on the east side of New York City.

Dufresne left France at 19 for America in the freedom-loving '60s. She met Warhol in 1964, when she was dining with her then-lover, painter Salvador Dali, according to The New York Times. Warhol cast her in several of his films, including "The Life of Juanita Castro," an improvised black-and-white political comedy, and "I, a Man."

Soon she morphed into the flamboyant Ultra Violet and joined Warhol's pop universe of parties, drugs, orgies, art and filmmaking.

"When she was not in character, with some combination of purple hair, purple lipstick, trowel-heavy purple eye shadow and beet juice as cheek color," The Times' obit says, "she looked like the prettiest girl at the prom — a soignée brunette with a shoulder-length bouffant, delicate features and maximum false eyelashes."

By the late 1970s, though, Dufresne's days in the art underground were taking a personal toll. Weary of excess, she longed for peace.

She was playing in a rock band and was interviewed by journalist Carl Arrington, who happened to be Mormon. They talked about religion, especially her interest in a Heavenly Mother, and he said that Latter-day Saints believe in a divine partner for God the Father.

Dufresne attended an LDS service in New York and found a welcoming atmosphere.

"The Mormons were full of light," she told The Salt Lake Tribune in 2004. "They seemed clean and happy. I was intrigued and impressed by them."

Dufresne was baptized in 1981 and was active and faithful in the church until her death.

"Sometimes it's hard to go to church, but I am always happy that I went. There is always something that nourishes my soul," she said then. "I love testimony meetings, especially when men cry. It's so real."

Peggy Fletcher Stack