Two weeks ago in this blog, I showed a photo of a very fashionable woman and initiated a contest for giving her a name. I knew that most of you would not have a clue as to the person’s real identity and her glamorous looks might stoke you into giving her a very interesting name.
So in today’s blog I will not only reveal the winning name chosen from an impartial judge (a person who has nothing to do with the production of the blog) but then in addition will reveal ALL concerning the person at the center of this contest.
The Envelope Please: The winning name chosen by our judge for the mystery lady is: Sarah Shelley and it was entered by James T. (Stew) Stewart. You have just won yourself a free copy of any one of my six books (including the soon to be released MURDER IMPOSSIBLE.) Please check out my writings on my website and inform me which book of mine you would like and where I should send it.
The runner up in the contest was Velvet Vining submitted by Script Mentor. You will receive a copy of my latest book ROGER SHOULD HAVE SAID YES. Just let me know where to send it.
Our judge, my good friend Peter Carney, said, “Sarah Shelley sounds like a real name. Both names roll off the tongue with both the alliteration and the musical sound mentioned in your blog posts on naming.” Congratulations to our winners. Many thanks to Judge Peter and to all of you who participated in the contest.
Now lets get down to some information about our mystery person. The photo is of George Jamieson, who was born a male in April 1935. He was a merchant seaman for several years. However, he always felt he was a female in a male’s body and decided to do something about it. He was the 9th person in the world to have a sex-change operation when he became April Ashley at the age of 25.
Due to her beauty, April became a top fashion model for Vogue Magazine and especially for Givenchy in Paris. She has lived out her years in the modeling and entertainment business. In her later years she became involved in running a series of nightclubs. She was married twice, once to a cousin of Queen Elizabeth. This caused such a stir that she had to leave the country. She moved to San Diego, California, for several years. She eventually returned to England and is presently in retirement and lives in London. She was in the recent past the subject of a large exposition of her life story at the Southbank Center in Liverpool.
How in the world, you may be asking, did April Ashley have anything to do with Jack Fitzgerald? The fact is I knew her during several of her San Diego exile years. The explanation is really a bit convoluted but I will try to make it short and to the point.
One thing about me is that I have always been fascinated by life’s oddities. I suppose that is why I ended up a writer and an actor. One piece of novelty that really struck me took place in the 1950s. Big news hit the world in the form of Christine Jorgensen and her sex change in Denmark. I remember, like so many others, it didn’t seem possible that a man could change into a woman. I’m not talking about a man dressing up as a woman because lots of men have been doing that for centuries. I’m talking about physically changing their sex via surgical intervention. Now there was something that really got my inquisitiveness and attention.
Even so, I didn’t think very much about Christine Jorgensen again until 1986. A friend of mine in West Hollywood opened a nightclub and booked an interesting line of “whatever-happened-to” type entertainers like Eartha Kitt, Gisele MacKenzie and would you believe, Christine Jorgensen? I remember meeting her there and even getting to know her enough to kiss her good-bye upon several occasions.
A few years later, I left my active life as a screenwriter in Hollywood and moved to Palm Springs in retirement. I got bored and decided that I should write a book to fill my time. I thought over possible subjects and somehow my interest in Christine Jorgensen rose to the forefront. I began writing my novel CONTESSA about a Hollywood film star who had been born a man and had managed to keep it a secret throughout her career.
Being that I knew very little about the world of “sex changes”, I realized that I was going to have to do a lot of research to make this book have an authentic ring. Google came to my rescue and before long I had hooked up with April Ashley, who was living in exile in San Diego at the time. She gave me a ton of insight into her life and world and without her, I could never have been able to write my novel CONTESSA.
Exile ended for her about the time my book appeared on the market and she returned to England. We corresponded briefly but soon as things go, we lost contact with one another.
So all has been revealed. Thanks so much to those of you who submitted names for our “mystery celebrity.” I’m sure April would be pleased. Thinking back over my writing career, I can see that life is truly a giant hors d’oeuvre tray—and I never lack for something to write about in this interesting world of ours.