Tennessee native Ella Harper (circa 1873-1921) was born with an extremely rare condition that essentially consisted of a pair of knees that bend backward. Most articles about her bizarrely refer to her “preference” for walking on all fours; I scarcely think she had much choice, do you? Harper’s performing career lasted from 1882 through 1886 when she appeared with W.H. Harris’s Nickel Plate Circus. At this time she announced her intention to learn a trade and leave show business. After the trail runs cold.
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.