Today is the birthday of Percilla Roman Bejano (1911-2001). Born covered head to toe in fur, and possessing two rows of teeth, she was billed as The Monkey Girl and exhibited alongside chimpanzees and orangutans in Lauther’s European Wonder Show starting at age three. The act did especially well in the aftermath of the Scopes Monkey Trial. In 1936 she was signed over to the Johnny J. Jones’s Exposition’s “Wonders of the 20th Century” exhibit. There she met and fell in love with Lobello, the Alligator Boy (1914-1995), who was covered head to toe in reptilian scales. The two married in 1938, and were now thenceforth billed as Londo and Lobello, the World’s Strangest Married Couple. In 1945, they toured with a Ripley’s Believe it or Not show. In the 50s and 60s they traveled with their own outfit; and they performed in the James E. Strates shows as late as the 1970s. By the 1980s they had retired but for the occasional tv appearance. When Emmitt died in 1995, Percilla kept her face clean shaven thereafter.
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