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Born plain George Jamieson, he became the first Briton to have a sex change and sparked countless lurid headlines. The award marks the latest chapter in the sensational life of the year-old, a veteran of numerous sex scandals. She bounced back, marrying an aristocrat but that only led to more astonishing revelations. Dark, slightly built and effeminate, the young George became the victim of daily beatings at school.
At 15, in a vain attempt to become masculine, he signed up for the merchant navy but after two years at sea — once more a magnet for bullies — he resolved to commit suicide. Eventually allowed out, George headed for London — once sharing a boarding house with former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott — where he began cross-dressing. Transformation: George Jamieson as a teenager, and right, as the sultry April Ashley, who went on to become a leading model.
The procedure lasted seven hours, and afterwards she returned to London, where her striking looks soon led to a modelling assignment for Vogue, shot by David Bailey, and to a minor role in the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby film The Road To Hong Kong. When they met Corbett was already married with four children and had a penchant for dressing up as a woman himself. He eventually left his wife and April moved into the highest echelons of British society before the marriage collapsed.
She once again hit the headlines after Corbett petitioned for divorce in It became one of the most talked about events of the decade with details of the case exploding over the newspapers. The couple faced each other in the courtroom, with Corbett claiming the union should be annulled on the grounds that because Ashley had been born a man, the marriage had never been legally sound.
The court agreed, setting a precedent which left transsexuals in gender limbo, until laws came into effect eight years ago that allowed them to be recognised legally as women. Unfortunate: April Ashley's wedding to Arthur Corbett was delayed after intrusions into her life. In , despite almost reaching 50, she had a one night stand with Michael Hutchence, who was just finding fame with INXS. It was not until that she was granted a new birth certificate, asserting that she was born female — with the help of old housemate John Prescott.