The Albino Lucasie family were European (the name is French), but P.T. Barnum, who discovered them at the 1857 Amsterdam fair, gave out that they were “Negroes from Madagascar” and claimed that their pink eyes remained staring even as they slept. He brought them to New York to work at his American Museum that same year. (Currier and Ives did a famous portrait of them titled “The Wonderful Eliophobus Family,” a whimsical name meaning “fear of the sun”). In addition to Barnum’s shows, the Lucasies also performed with W. W. Coles and the Lemon Bros., for a total of 40 years. When Antoinette died, Rudolph continued performing in vaudeville as an albino violinist. He died in Kansas City in 1909.
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.