Johnny Depp has had many roles in his acting career, but none so challenging as that of Ed Wood, the transvestite who made the worst movie ever made, PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE, 1959. Ed Wood, the movie, related the filmmaker’s life as director of bad films, a friend to morphine-addicted Bela Lougosi, an ex-soldier who wore women’s negligee under his uniform and a transvestite with a passion for angora. Depp remarked on his role as Ed Wood that as a man, Depp was small in stature but dressed as a woman he was huge. Ed Wood was intrigued by the story of George Jorgenson who underwent a sex change operation and became Christine Jorgenson during the conservative 1950’s. Wood wanted to film The Christine Jorgenson Story but couldn’t obtain the rights to her story. So, he made a semi-biographical movie Glen or Glenda 1953 which concerned the daily life of a transvestite. The film was also released under the titles I Changed My Sex, I Led Two Lives and He or She.
The Christine Jorgenson Story wasn’t filmed until 1970 upon the publication of Ms. Jorgenson’s autobiography. The film starred John Hansen as the woman wanna-be. The film concentrated on the youths struggle for sexual identity. Jorgenson had her gender corrected in Denmark in 1952. She received much notoriety. She tried, although unsuccessfully to be legally married. After her operation, she performed in nightclubs and theatres and was always a favorite on the lecture and talk show circuits. Sadly, Ms. Jorgenson died at the age of 62 from bladder cancer on May 3, 1989.
By Madeline Rose
This article was originally published in Transformation 15 July 1997