Birthplace: Aldershot, England
When 33-year-old former model and charity campaigner, Heather Mills, and 59-year-old former Beatle, Paul McCartney, announced their engagement in 2001, “gold digger” was the politest epithet directed at Mills by Sir Paul's disgruntled fans. But the two claim much in common, including a hardscrabble childhood and indomitable wills. Born into a dysfunctional family, Mills was living on London's streets by age 14. Let go from her job at a croissant shop, she vowed never to work for anyone again and quickly established two businesses and a modeling career before moving to Slovenia to become a ski instructor. When civil war broke out there she returned to England and set up a refugee camp. In 1993, after a police motorcycle ran into her on a London street, severing her leg from the knee down, she set up a support organization for amputee victims; her efforts earning her the British Government's Gold Award for Outstanding Achievement, The Times Human Achievement Award, and a nomination for the 1996 Nobel Prize. While working on a charity event in 1999, she met McCartney, whose wife of 30 years, Linda, died of breast cancer in 1998. McCartney and Mills announced their marriage's breakup in May 2006.