Norah Hildebrandt (1857-1893) was the daughter of America’s first tattoo artist, German-born Martin Hildebrandt. When he didn’t have soldiers and sailors to work on, he would decorate his daughter. By 1882, she was almost filled in, with a reported 365 tats covering her body, and she began to exhibit herself at Bunnell’s Museum. During the 1890s she toured with the Barnum and Bailey sideshow. She died sadly young in 1893, but by then there was competition from the second tattooed lady Irene Woodward (stayed tuned…)
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.