Born in 1859 in upstate Copenhagen, New York James Morris possessed the unique gift of being able to stretch his skin out like taffy, sometimes as far out as 18 inches. He could pull his skin over his face like a turtleneck. He would amuse friends and co-workers with the ability at first; he began doing it professionally at J.E. Sackett’s dime museum in Providence. In 1882 he joined P.T. Barnum’s circus and toured with the show for many years throughout the United States and Europe. There are accounts of him plying his trade as late as 1898. Though he made good money at his act, he also drank and gambled and had to earn money as a barber on the side. It is not known what became of him after the turn of the century.
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.
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