Eden, then known as Ernest Aron, and Wojtowicz were married on December 4, 1971 in Greenwich Village.
At the time of Wojtowicz's attempted robbery of a Chase Manhattan bank branch in Brooklyn, New York, on August 22, 1972, she was in a psychiatric institution, following a series of suicide attempts. Eden was not previously aware of his plans. After the failed heist, Wojtowicz was sentenced to 20 years, although he was released in April 1978; while imprisoned, he sold the movie rights to the story for $7,500 and subsequently was able to help finance Eden's sex reassignment surgery.
Eden, born in Ozone Park, Queens, died of AIDS-related pneumonia, aged 41, in Rochester, New York. Her personal papers and photographs were donated posthumously to the National Archive of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender History at the Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Community Center on June 14, 1990. Wojtowicz died of cancer on January 2, 2006, aged 60, in his mother's home.
Elizabeth Eden was an American transsexual woman whose boyfriend John Wojtowicz attempted to rob a bank to pay for her sex reassignment surgery. The incident was made into the '75 film Dog Day Afternoon. Wojtowicz was sentenced to 20 ys, although he was released in April 1978; while imprisoned, he sold the movie rights to the story for $7,500 and subsequently was able to help finance Eden's sex reassignment surgery. Eden died of AIDS-related pneumonia, aged 41. Wojtowicz died of cancer in 2006.
John Stanley Wojtowicz (March 9, 1945 - January 2, 2006) was an American bank robber whose story inspired the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon.
Wojtowicz, the son of Polish immigrants, married Carmen Bifulco in 1967. They had two children, and separated in 1969. Wojtowicz later met Ernest Aron (later to be known as Elizabeth Debbie Eden) in 1971 at an Italian feast in New York City. The two had a public wedding ceremony in 1971.
On August 22, 1972, Wojtowicz, along with Salvatore Naturale and Robert Westenberg, attempted to rob a branch of the Chase Manhattan bank on the corner of East Third Street and Avenue P in Gravesend, Brooklyn. The heist was meant to pay for Aron's sex reassignment surgery. Wojtowicz and Naturale held seven Chase Manhattan bank employees hostage for 14 hours. Westernberg fled the scene before the robbery was underway when he saw a police car on the street. Wojtowicz, a former bank teller, had some knowledge of bank operations. However, he apparently based his plan on scenes from the movie The Godfather, which he had seen earlier that day. The robbers became media celebrities. Wojtowicz was arrested, but Naturale was killed by the FBI during the final moments of the incident.
Respected Village Voice columnist and investigative journalist, Arthur Bell, who knew Wojtowicz (and was tangentially involved in the negotiations) reported that paying for Aron's sex change was only peripheral to the real motive behind the attempted heist, which was, in fact, a well-planned Mafia operation that went horribly wrong.
According to Wojtowicz, he was offered a deal for pleading guilty, which the court did not honor, and on April 23, 1973, he was sentenced to 20 years in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary of which he served six. Wojtowicz was rearrested in 1986 for violating his parole. He made $7,500 selling the movie rights to the story and 1% of its net profit, and helped finance Aron's sex reassignment surgery with these funds.
Wojtowicz was released from prison on April 10, 1978. Elizabeth Debbie Eden died of AIDS-related pneumonia in Rochester, New York on September 29, 1987.
Wojtowicz's story was used as the basis for the film Dog Day Afternoon. The movie was released in 1975, and starred Al Pacino as Wojtowicz (called "Sonny Wortzik" in the film), and John Cazale, one of Pacino's co-stars in The Godfather, as Naturale. Eden, known as "Leon" in the film, was portrayed by actor Chris Sarandon.
In 1975, Wojtowicz wrote a letter to The New York Times out of concern that people would believe the movie version of the events which he said was only 30% accurate. Wojtowicz's main objection was the inaccurate portrayal of his wife Carmen Bifulco as a plain, overweight woman whose behavior led to his relationship with Elizabeth Eden, when in fact he had left her two years before he met Eden. Other concerns he had that were fictionalized in the movie were that he never spoke to his mother and that the police refused to let him speak to his wife Carmen. In addition, the movie insinuated that John 'sold out' Sal Naturale to the police, and although he claims this to be untrue, several attempts were made on John's life following an inmate screening of the movie. He praised Pacino and Sarandon's characterizations of himself and Ernest Aron as accurate. In a 2006 interview, the screenwriter of the movie, Frank Pierson, said that he tried to visit Wojtowicz in prison many times to get more details about his story when he wrote the screenplay but Wojtowicz refused to see him because he felt he was not paid enough money for the rights to his story.
Wojtowicz is the subject of three documentaries: The Third Memory (2000), Based on a True Story (2005), and The Dog (2013). The last one, ten years in the making by directors Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2013.
In 2001, The New York Times reported that Wojtowicz was living on welfare in Brooklyn.
John Wojtowicz died of cancer on January 2, 2006, aged 60, in his mother's home.
Gay Power: An American Revolution by David Eisenbach
Hardcover: 350 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press (May 31, 2006)
Amazon: Gay Power: An American Revolution
The explosion of gay visibility following the street riots at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 brought, for the first time, tens of thousands of lesbians and gay men out of the closets and into headline news around the world. Never before had so many gay people at one moment stepped into the spotlight of mainstream American politics, culture, and entertainment. More than any city, New York became overnight the center of the new "Gay Power" movement and served as the focal point for gay protest and politics for the next decade. Gay Power, chronicles the tumultuous first wave of the modern gay rights movement. From the first-ever gay student group launched at Columbia University in 1965 to the Gay Liberation Front, the Gay Activist Alliance, and other vanguard organizations that emerged from the Stonewall riots, David Eisenbach draws on archival material and numerous firsthand accounts from the individuals who built the movement. Unlike their predecessors, this new generation of lesbians and gay men spoke as a community, established political clout, appeared openly on television and in the press, demanded equal rights with heterosexuals, and pioneered protest tactics like the "zap," which later ACT UP employed famously in the 1980s.
More LGBT Couples at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance
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