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Harris Glenn Milstead (October 19, 1945 - March 7, 1988) was an American actor, singer and Drag Queen from Baltimore.

He became the muse of director John Waters in his 1960s and 1970s underground films.


Selected Filmography

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"These Tropes Are Divine!"

  • Acting for Two:
    • As Dawn Davenport and her rapist, Earl Peterson, in Female Trouble.
    • As Edna Turnblad and Arvin Hodgepile in Hairspray.
    • As Party Guest and Man With Scarf in Roman Candles.
  • Actor Allusion: In Pink Flamingos, Cookie reads in a tabloid about "Harris Glenn Milstead" being released from jail, and Divine says she hasn't heard that name in years. That, of course, was Divine's own real name.
  • Alliterative Name: As Dawn Davenport in Female Trouble and Francine Fishpaw in Polyester.
  • Alliterative Title: His first album was titled Jungle Jezebel.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Once while performing for the San Francisco drag troupe The Cockettes, he went into a prototype of the Blasphemous Boasts Dawn Davenport recited in her nightclub act in Female Trouble. The talk of associating with criminals didn't bother them, what did bother them was the line, "I eat raw sugar!"
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  • Chewing the Scenery/Large Ham: What, you expected a 300 lbs. drag performer to be restrained — though she was pretty low key as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray.
  • Concert Film: Live at the Hacienda and Shoot Your Shot.
  • Documentary: 2013's I Am Divine
  • Expy: Ursula from the Disney's The Little Mermaid (1989) was modeled on him. He was also tapped to voice Ursula, but passed away before he could record any lines.
  • Fat Bitch: The book Videohound's Cult Flicks and Trash Pics described Divine's standard persona as "a shrieking 300 lbs. sociopath in drag."
  • "I Am" Song: "I'm So Beautiful", from Maid In England.
  • Insistent Terminology: Milstead insisted he was not in drag in Hairspray because no drag queen would ever be portrayed as a frumpy housewife.
  • It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: People Magazine declared Divine "Drag Queen of the 20th Century."
  • Literal Metaphor:
    • When Earl Peterson tells Dawn Davenport to "go fuck yourself", Dawn already did "fuck herself" in Female Trouble.
    • Babs literally has a "shit eating grin" at the end of Pink Flamingos.
  • Old Shame:
    • Milstead regretted the entire "eating dog shit" scene from Flamingos.
    • By the mid-'80s, Milstead was getting tired of drag roles. He only performed as Divine in Lust in the Dust because he wanted to co-star with Tab Hunter, and only did Hairspray because he had a dual role, one as a man (Arvin Hodgepile) and one as Divine (Edna Turnblad) — and Milstead joked that he was not in drag for that role because no drag queen would ever be that frumpy. He was looking forward to a gay male role, Uncle Otto, in Married... with Children, but died before he could perform.
  • Pun-Based Title: His third album was titled Maid In England.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Or, rather, song: "You Think You're a Man".
  • Sampling: "Love Reaction" used elements from New Order's "Blue Monday."
  • Singer Namedrop: "Divine's Theme," from Maid In England
  • Toilet Humor: Engages in much of it throughout her early filmography.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • He was supposed to have played "Uncle Otto" on an episode of Married... with Children, but died of a heart attack the day of filming.
    • Divine was interested in voicing Ursula in The Little Mermaid, but passed away before his lines could be recorded.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Jokingly proclaimed this by John Waters.

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