Elizabeth Eden

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Elizabeth Eden
Elizabeth Debbie Eden
Born Ernest Aron
(1946-08-19)August 19, 1946
Died September 29, 1987(1987-09-29) (aged 41)

Elizabeth Debbie Eden (August 19, 1946 – September 29, 1987), born Ernest Aron, was an American trans woman whose notoriety came through her boyfriend John Wojtowicz. Wojtowicz attempted a bank robbery to pay for her sex reassignment surgery. The incident was made into the 1975 crime drama film Dog Day Afternoon directed by Sidney Lumet.[1] The character Leon Shermer, played by Chris Sarandon, is loosely based on Eden.[2]


Eden was born Ernest Aron on August 19, 1946, in Ozone Park, Queens.[1]

Eden and Wojtowicz had a public wedding ceremony in 1971.[3] Following a series of suicide attempts Eden went into a psychiatric institution.

The following year, on August 22, 1972, was Wojtowicz's attempted robbery of a Chase Manhattan bank branch in Brooklyn, New York. Eden was not aware of the plans. After the failed heist, Wojtowicz was sentenced to 20 years, although he was released in April 1978.

The film Dog Day Afternoon shows Sonny (the Wojtowicz character) making out a will to give Leon (Eden's character) his life insurance so that even if he is killed, she might still be able to pay for the operation. The real-life Wojtowicz was paid $7500, plus 1% of the film's net profits for the rights to his story, from which he gave to Eden enough to pay for her sexual reassignment surgery.[1]


Eden died of AIDS-related pneumonia on September 29, 1987, aged 41, in Rochester, New York.[4]

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 (New York) on June 14, 1990.[5]


  1. ^ a b c "Elizabeth Eden, Transsexual Who Figured in 1975 Movie". The New York Times. October 1, 1987. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  2. ^ Photos, L. (2003). "The Dog and the Last Real Man". Journal of Bisexuality. 3 (2): 43–68. doi:10.1300/J159v03n02_04. 
  3. ^ "Ernest Aron Became Elizabeth Eden : AIDS Kills Woman Behind 'Dog Day'". The Los Angeles Times. September 30, 1987. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  4. ^ Jabbar, Yasmene. "Dog Days Afternoon Remembered". Trans World News. Archived from the original on November 7, 2003. Retrieved August 9, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Liz Eden Papers". Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Center. 1973–1986 (Bulk 1974). Archived from the original on December 17, 2003. Retrieved August 8, 2009.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

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