Eddie Masher: The Other Skeleton Dude
Brooklyn native Eddie Masher (nee Hagner, 1892-1962), billed himself in side shows as the “Skeleton Dude”. However, one notes with interest that he begins to appear on the scene immediately after the original Skeleton Dude, John Coffey passed away in 1912. In 1913, there was a fracas in the papers about a lawsuit; Masher was suing a tailor who claimed he couldn’t make a suit thin enough for him (almost certainly a publicity stunt).
Perhaps such lengths were not necessary. I’ve heard accounts of the 5’7″ Masher’s weight at anywhere between 76 and 38 lbs. The Guinness Book of World Records seems to have split the difference, claiming that we weighed 48 lbs. I’ve read books that weigh more than that!
“Masher” means a guy who hits on the ladies — Hagner had essentially taken over the man-about-town character devised originally by Coffey. It appeared to work well for him. Both the Barnum & Bailey circus, and Coney Island’s Dreamland Circus Sideshow made use of his talents during his 24 year career.
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.