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04 March 2008

John Cabell Breckinridge(1903 – 1996).

Bunny Breckinridge was descended from a US Attorney General, a Confederate general and the founder of Wells Fargo Bank. He was heir to the Comstock load fortune. He was born in Paris, educated at Eton, and at Oxford University.

He was openly gay at a time when it was dangerous for the lower classes to be so, and was known for his flamboyance, and his use of perfumes and jewelry. He performed in local and amateur theatre, including Shakespearean plays. He also did drag shows. In France he used the name Jacques Solange. In 1927 while working as a drag performer in Paris, he married a woman and while they divorced after two years, they had one daughter, Solange.

As sex-change operations became better known he would announce his intention of having one, that he would go to Denmark, and later Mexico. However he never went through with it, nor did he ever start living fulltime as female.

In 1954 he taken to court for failing to support his aged, blind mother in England. In 1955 he was arrested for cruising and charged with vagrancy, but his family connections resulted in the charges being dropped.

By 1958 he had met fellow transvestite, Ed Wood, and was cast as the alien leader in Plan 9 From Outer Space, 1958. In 1959 he was arrested for taking under-aged boys to Las Vegas, and committed to a state hospital for the criminally insane, but released the next year. In the late 1960s he opened his San Francisco home as a hippie drop-in.

He was the inspiration for Bunny Wigglesworth in Zorro, the Gay Blade, 1981, and was amused to be portrayed in the Ed Wood film, 1994.

  • Rudolph Grey. Nightmare of Ecstasy: the Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. Feral House 380 pp1992: 81-2, 113-4.
  • Tim Burton (dir). Ed Wood. Scr: Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, based on Nightmare of Ecstacy by Rudolph Grey, with Johnny Depp as Edward D. Wood Jr, Bill Murray as Bunny Breckinridge, Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi. US 124 mins 1994.
  • Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Cambridge, Ma, London: Harvard University Press. 363 pp 2002: 84, 305n97.
  •  “Bunny Breckinridge”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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