Today is the birthday of LaVonda Stapp, (1920-1963), variously billed as Tiny LaVonda, Little LaVonda, Princess Lavonda, and Lady LaVonda, and always “The Smallest Woman in the World.” At about 24 inches tall she had a fair claim to the title, although her condition made it impossible for her to stand so she could never be properly measured (she had no legs; her feet sprang directly out of her torso). She performed with the sideshow at the Clyde Beatty circus, and had to be pushed around in a tiny wheelchair.
In 1945, she married a dwarf circus clown named Alva Evans and was proud to bear him a son although the child only lived a few days.
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.