Happy Jack Eckart
“Happy” Jack Eckart (1874-1937), the son of a Fort Wayne cigar maker, weighed 19 lbs. at birth. At the time of his passing at age 63 he weighed 739 lbs and had to be buried in a casket six times the normal size. He went into the sideshow business when he was a 265 lb boy of ten, working first for P.T. Barnum, and later for the Great American Shows. A born joiner, he often billed himself as “The World’s Largest Moose” or “Elk” or whatever lodge was applicable at the time (the banners in the above refer to the Elks”). He often had himself photographed naked or in a racy Greco-Roman outfits. Most differently sized performers die young as a result of complications arising from their conditions. Jack was still going strong in his sixties after a half century in the business, expiring only when a trailer truck smashes into his automobile.
To find out about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc