Linda Louise McCartney (née Eastman, formerly See, 24 September 1941 – 17 April 1998) was an American photographer, musician and animal rights activist. Her mother and father were Lee Eastman and Louise Sara Lindner Eastman, heiress to the Lindner Department Store fortune.
She married Paul McCartney of The Beatles on 12 March 1969, and was a member of Wings. The McCartneys had four children together: Heather Louise (from her previous marriage, whom Paul McCartney adopted in 1969), Mary Anna, Stella and James Louis. Linda became Lady McCartney when her husband was knighted in 1997.
McCartney wrote several vegetarian cookbooks, became a business entrepreneur (starting the Linda McCartney Foods company) and was a professional photographer, publishing Linda McCartney's Sixties: Portrait of an Era. McCartney was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, and died at the age of 56 on 17 April 1998 at the McCartney family ranch in Tucson, Arizona. She left her entire estate to her husband through what is known as a Qualified Domestic Trust Fund, which allows deferral of estate taxes due on her assets until after her husband's death.
McCartney was born Linda Louise Eastman, the second-eldest of four children, to Jewish-American parents in New York City. She had one older brother, John (10 July 1939) and two younger sisters, Laura (born 1947) and Louise Jr. (born 1950). She grew up in the wealthy Scarsdale area of Westchester County, New York and graduated from Scarsdale High School in 1960. Her father was the son of Jewish-Russian immigrants. He changed his name from Leopold Vail Epstein to Lee Eastman, but was not related to the Eastman Kodak family. He was songwriter Jack Lawrence's attorney, and at his request, Lawrence wrote a song called, "Linda," in honor of the five-year-old, which was recorded by Buddy Clark in 1947. Her mother Louise Sara Lindner Eastman—heiress to the Lindner Department Store fortune—died in the crash of American Airlines Flight 1 in Queens, New York, in 1962. McCartney later said that because of her mother's death, she hated traveling in airplanes. McCartney studied for a Fine Art major at the University of Arizona. Her first marriage was to John Melvin See Jr., whom she met at college. They married on 18 June 1962, and their daughter Heather Louise was born on December 31, 1962. They were divorced in June 1965. McCartney later commented that See was a "nice man, a geologist, an Ernest Hemingway type." See committed suicide with a self-inflicted gunshot wound on March 19, 2000, at his home in Tucson. John Eastman later became Paul McCartney's lawyer and manager, taking over from his father.
McCartney started work as a receptionist for the Town & Country magazine, and was the only unofficial photographer on board the SS Sea Panther yacht on the Hudson River who was allowed to take photographs of The Rolling Stones during a record promotion party. Although she had previously only studied the photography of horses in Arizona at an arts centre with a teacher, Hazel Archer, she was later asked to be the house photographer at the Fillmore East concert hall, and supposedly became a popular groupie. She photographed artists such as Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Eric Clapton, Simon and Garfunkel, The Who, The Doors, and Neil Young (Linda photographed Young in 1967 — the picture was used for the front cover of Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House 1968 (2008)). She photographed Clapton for Rolling Stone magazine, becoming the first woman to have a photo featured on the front cover (11 May 1968). She and McCartney also appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone on 31 January 1974, making her the only person both to have taken a photo for, and to have been photographed, for the front cover of the magazine. Her photographs were later exhibited in more than 50 galleries internationally, as well as at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. A collection of photographs from that time, Linda McCartney's Sixties: Portrait of an Era, was published in 1993.
Paul McCartney and children
On 15 May 1967, the then Linda Eastman met Paul McCartney at a Georgie Fame concert at the Bag O'Nails club in London. She was in the UK on an assignment to take photographs of "Swinging Sixties" musicians in London. The two later went to the Speakeasy club on Margaret Street to see Procol Harum. They met again four days later at the launch party for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band at Brian Epstein's house in Belgravia. When her assignment was completed, she flew back to New York City. In May 1968, they met again in New York, as John Lennon and Paul McCartney were there to announce the formation of Apple Corps. In September of the same year, he phoned her and asked her to fly over to London. They were married six months later at a small civil ceremony (when she was four months pregnant with their daughter Mary) at Marylebone Registry Office on 12 March 1969.
After giving birth to Mary McCartney (born in London on 28 August 1969) Stella McCartney (born 13 September 1971) and James McCartney (born on 12 September 1977 in London) she said that four children was enough (meaning her first daughter Heather as well). She became Lady McCartney when her husband was knighted in 1997. Her brother, entertainment lawyer John Eastman, has represented Paul McCartney since the break-up of The Beatles. McCartney now has six grandchildren, all of whom were born after her death: Mary's three sons Arthur Alistair Donald (born 3 April 1999), Elliot Donald (born August 1, 2002), and Sam Aboud (born August 11, 2008), and Stella's children, Miller Alasdhair James Willis (born 25 February 2005), daughter Bailey Linda Olwyn Willis (born December 8, 2006), and Beckett Robert Lee Willis (born 8 January 2008).
She made an uncredited vocal contribution to The Beatles' title song of Let It Be in January 1969. After the breakup of The Beatles in 1970, her husband taught her to play keyboards, and permanently included her in the lineup for his new group Wings. The group garnered several Grammy Awards, becoming one of the most successful bands of the 1970s, but had to endure jibes like, "What do you call a cow with wings? Linda McCartney." Linda later admitted that the early accusations about her singing out of tune in the early days with Wings were true.
In 1977, a single entitled "Seaside Woman" was released by an obscure band called Suzy and the Red Stripes, on Epic Records in the United States. In reality, Suzy and The Red Stripes were Wings, with Linda McCartney (who also wrote the song) on lead vocals. The song was recorded by Wings in 1972, in response to a lawsuit by ATV (which owned The Beatles' Northern Songs catalogue) about Paul McCartney's practice of granting his wife co-writing credit on his songs, which had the effect of transferring a share of the publishing royalties to his own MPL Communications company. The lawsuit was settled out of court.
McCartney and her husband shared an Oscar nomination for the song "Live and Let Die," which they co-wrote. Linda McCartney's album Wide Prairie, which included "Seaside Woman," was released posthumously in 1998. Paul McCartney worked with the help of The Beatles' engineer, Geoff Emerick, to finish the album. Along with eight other British composers, he contributed to the choral album A Garland for Linda, and dedicated his classical album, Ecce Cor Meum, to his late wife. In January 1999, "The Light Comes From Within" single from the Wide Prairie album was banned by TV and radio stations in the UK. Paul McCartney placed advertisements in English national newspapers asking parents to give "guidance" as to whether their children could be "morally corrupted" by the song lyrics, which included the lines, "You say I'm simple, you say I'm a hick, You're fucking no-one, you stupid dick."
Vegetarianism, activism and lifestyle
McCartney introduced her husband to vegetarianism in 1975, and promoted a vegetarian diet through her cookbooks: Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking (1989) Linda’s Kitchen and Simple and Inspiring Recipes for Meatless Meals. She explained her change to vegetarianism by saying that she did not "eat anything with a face", and if "slaughterhouses had glass walls the whole world would be vegetarian". The McCartneys became outspoken vegetarians and animal-rights activists. They said that their vegetarianism was realized when they happened to see lambs in a field as they ate a meal of lamb.
In 1991, she introduced a line of frozen vegetarian meals under the Linda McCartney Foods name, which made her wealthy independently of her husband. In 1995, McCartney appeared in animated form with her husband in The Simpsons episode "Lisa the Vegetarian." The "Trash of the Titans" episode was dedicated to her memory. The H. J. Heinz Company acquired Linda McCartney Foods in March 2000, and the Hain Celestial Group bought it in 2007.
McCartney was a strong advocate for animal rights, and lent her support to many organizations like PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals) as well as The Council For The Protection of Rural England, Friends Of The Earth, and was a patron of the League Against Cruel Sports. Before her death, she narrated a TV advertisement for PETA, in which she said: "Have you ever seen a fish gasping for breath when you take it out of the water? They’re saying, ‘Thanks a lot for killing me. It feels great, you know.’ No! It hurts!" After her death, PETA created the Linda McCartney Memorial Award.
McCartney was arrested in Los Angeles for possession of marijuana in 1975, although all charges were later dropped. In 1984, the McCartneys were arrested in Barbados for possession of marijuana and were fined $100 each. They flew to Heathrow Airport, London, where Linda McCartney was arrested again on charges of possession. She later commented that hard drugs were disgusting, but marijuana "is pretty lightweight."
McCartney was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, and her condition soon grew worse as it spread to her liver. Paul's last words to her were: "You're up on your beautiful Appaloosa stallion. It's a fine spring day. We're riding through the woods. The bluebells are all out, and the sky is clear-blue." Linda McCartney died at age 56, on 17 April 1998, at the McCartney family ranch in Tucson, Arizona. She was cremated in Tucson, and her ashes were scattered at McCartney's farm in Sussex. Paul later suggested that fans remember her by donating to breast cancer research charities that do not support animal testing, "or the best tribute — go veggie". A memorial service was held for her at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, which was attended by George Harrison, David Gilmour and Ringo Starr. A memorial service was also held at Riverside Church in Manhattan, two months after her death.
Talking later about the medication used to treat her breast cancer, Paul said: "If a drug has got to be used on humans then legally it has to be finally tested on an animal ... This was difficult for Linda when she was undergoing her treatment." He also claimed that she was unsure if the drugs she took had been tested on animals: "During the treatment, a nice answer is a nice answer and if they (the doctors) say, 'It's OK to have this because we didn't test it on animals', you are going to believe them." She left her entire fortune to her husband in a special trust, known as a Qualified Domestic Trust, which allows deferral of estate taxes due on her assets until after his death. He will have access to any royalties from books, records and any financial remuneration for the use of his wife's photographs. He has pledged to continue her line of vegetarian food, and to keep it free from genetically modified organisms.
Wide Prairie, a six-minute cartoon fantasy film by Linda McCartney and director Oscar Grillo, was premièred at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on August 19, 1998. It was shown before the British première of The Horse Whisperer, starring Robert Redford. On 10 April 1999, Paul McCartney performed at the tribute "Concert for Linda" in the Royal Albert Hall, with numerous artists including George Michael, the Pretenders, Elvis Costello and Tom Jones. In January 2000, he announced donations in excess of $2,000,000 for cancer research at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and the Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson, where Linda received treatment. The centers received $1 million (£625,000) each. The donations, through the Garland Appeal, were made on the condition no animals would be used for testing purposes. In 2000, The Linda McCartney Centre, a cancer clinic, opened at The Royal Liverpool University Hospital. In November 2002, the Linda McCartney Kintyre Memorial Trust opened a memorial garden in Campbeltown — the main town on the Mull of Kintyre — with the dedication of a bronze statue of Linda by sculptor Jane Robbins, (Paul McCartney's cousin) which was commissioned and donated by Paul.
Portrayals on screen
Both Linda McCartney and Paul McCartney made an appearance on The Simpsons episode "Lisa the Vegetarian" (1995). Elizabeth Mitchell and Gary Bakewell played Linda and Paul McCartney in the 2000 TV movie The Linda McCartney Story. Catherine Strauss had earlier played her (as "Linda Eastman") in the 1985 TV movie John and Yoko: A Love Story. Tamara Blum Cohen appeared as Linda McCartney in a 2007 episode of the TV series Final 24 focused on Keith Moon.