Today is the birthday of Chauncey Morlan (1869-1912). Morlan was said to have weighed 140 lbs by age seven; by the time he joined Adam Forepaugh’s show at age 15 he was over 400. Morlan became one of Forepaugh’s leading attractions, eventually reaching a weight of 748 lbs. While working for that show, he met and wooed Annie Bell, the Ohio Giantess, whom at 490 lbs was a little slip of a thing alongside her husband. Their 1892 wedding at Huber’s 14th Street was a major media event, with hundreds of admissions-paying onlookers in attendance. The two continued to work dime museums for their remaining years. Annie passed away in 1909. It is said that on the rebound the recovering lover often looks for the opposite of she whom he has just lost. Thus it was that in 1909, Chauncey married 100 lb. Stella Manning.
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