Madame Devere is important to our history for having possessed the longest facial hair ever recorded on a bearded lady — 14 inches. While there is some confusion about her birthdate (I’ve seen so many given, let’s just say the 1840s or 50s) and her actual first name (I have seen both Mary and Jane), most accounts agree that she was born and raised in Kentucky, and married to her manager, J.W. Devere.
She comes on to the radar in 1884 when she performed at Huber’s Museum in New York and with Sells Bros. Circus. In 1906 she toured with the Campbell Bros., and in 1908 with Yankee Robinson. According to the Oolwein (Iowa) Register she was passing through that town in 1912 with the Patterson Shows, when she fell ill and died.
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.