Mignon the Penguin Lady
Ruth Berry (born circa 1910)was born with the condition called phocomelia which resulted in stunted limbs with fused digits, resembling flippers. Short and stout with a waddling gait she began to exhibit herself in the early 1930s as Mignon the Penguin Girl (“mignon” is French for “cute”). To give the act a little pizzazz she played the marimba. In addition to sideshows, she worked the world’s fairs that were held in New York and Chicago during the 30s. She married twice; once to a man named LaArgo, and then to Hoppy the Frog Boy (Earl Davis) with whom she performed for the last decade of her career. She left the sideshow life around 1965.
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