On December 1, 1952, the Daily News ran a story headlined "EX-GI BECOMES BLONDE BOMBSHELL," turning Christine Jorgensen (1927-1989) into an instant celebrity and the most famous transsexual figure of the 20th Century. Constantly surrounded by reporters and photographers, everything about Jorgensen's life was newsworthy, from her shoe size (9-AA) to her contribution to the volunteer fire department ($10), from her first Easter bonnet (which landed her on the front page of Newsday on Easter weekend) to her receiving her driver's license. The curious public could not find out enough about Jorgensen. Instead of regretting the public attention, Jorgensen embraced it and used her celebrity status to speak out on the subject of transsexuality and public understanding of transsexuals. In addition to her work in the lecture and talk show circuits, Jorgensen worked as a color photographer, stage actress, and singer.
In 1970, the Hollywood studio United Artists released The Christine Jorgensen Story, based on the autobiography of Christine Jorgensen, the first publicized sex change recipient in history. The film was directed by Irving Rapper and starred the young John Hansen as George/Christine Jorgensen, an early but not altogether successful attempt at featuring a biological male in a male-to-female transsexual role. The film, which was co-written by Jorgensen, attempts to be a sympathetic portrayal of a man who yearns to become a woman. However, critics, who felt the film was corny and melodramatic, almost universally panned it.
The press book for The Christine Jorgensen Story features studio-made news stories to promote the film as being both important and an oddity. The posters and other materials reproduced in the press book also attempt to be both sympathetic and sensationalistic. Note the tabloid-like use of first person quotations throughout. In fact, The Christine Jorgensen Story’s press book even suggests that exhibitors use the articles and smaller poster reproductions to create their very own tabloids, the cost of which could be defrayed by including advertisements from local businesses.
Well before the production of The Christine Jorgensen Story, and only months before her surgery, Jorgensen had dabbled in the world of film in a different way. Inspired by her photography background, Jorgensen decided to write, direct, and narrate a documentary about one of her favorite locales, Denmark. The press book for the European travelogue, Denmark, includes remarks from Ms. Jorgensen about filmmaking, as well as various images of her in the throes of directing.