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Jeanette Schmid

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Jeanette Schmid (6 November 1924 - 9 March 2005) was a professional transsexual whistler.

Born Rudolf Schmid in Volary, Sudetenland (in what is now the Czech Republic), Schmid began to dress in feminine clothing at a young age and loved singing and dancing. Delicate and confused about his sexuality, the ethnic German Schmid did not fit in with the Nazi ideal of the Aryan male but enlisted in the Wehrmacht in 1941 and was posted to Udine, Italy until a bout of typhoid fever saw him sent home.

As Czechoslovakians began to take revenge against Sudeten Germans at the end of the war, Schmid was forced to flee to Munich where he returned to his love of cross dressing by starting a career as a female impersonator. He rapidly gained fame for his talent, bawdy material and slinky outfits. The Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his wife Queen Soraya, saw him perform in Hamburg and invited Schmid to Tehran. Schmid's material and dress were considered inappropriate by many in Iran however and he was forced to hurriedly devise a new routine. He instead whistled a Strauss polka and Offenbach's Barcarole for the Shah and his court. It was a hit and Schmid became a star.

Schmid toured the world as a cross-dressing whistler, performing on stage with acts like Frank Sinatra, Édith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich while living in Cairo. It was there in 1964 that Schmid underwent the surgery that officially made her Jeanette. She then moved to Vienna, the world capital of whistling, to further her mastery of the art of whistling.

Schmid continued to tour the world under the stage name Baroness Lips von Lipstrill, including a successful stint on Broadway. Awarded the Austrian Decoration of Merit in Gold in 2004, Schmid was asked at the ceremony when she planned to stop performing. She replied: "I'll whistle my way through life until I drop dead."

Schmid died in Vienna, whistling to the end.


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