Sadly, and somewhat surprisingly, I haven’t been able to find a photo of this whole amazing family in one shot. The Baroness Sidonia de Barcsy (born this day in 1866) was a bearded lady; her son Nicu was a 27 inch tall little person. Her husband, a legitimate Hungarian Baron, six foot three and 400 lbs, was a Fat Man and a Strong Man. The whole family toured as a performing unit. The story (at least what I have been able to learn) sounds like a fairy tale; if it’s hokum, no one has taken the trouble to debunk it. The Baron Anton de Barcsy is said to have been an aristocrat and cavalry officer in Hungary. When his young wife gave birth to their two pound son in 1885, she began to sprout a beard. These twin providential miracles are said to have occurred just as the Baron lost his fortune in some bad speculations and political upheaval in his homeland forced him to flee the country. Heading west, and possessing no other marketable skills, they began to exhibit themselves in circuses in the Great Capitals of Europe. How very lucky!
In 1903, they headed to America. Nicu, now 18 took the tile of “Captain”. For the next nine years the family toured with the sideshows of the Campbell Bros., Hagenbeck and Wallace, and Ringling Bros. Circuses. When the Baron passed away in 1912, Sidonia married “The Long Haired Cherokee Buck Man”, a.k.a “Buck” or “Cherokee Buck” a half German-half Native American trick roper whose real name was Frederick Valentine Tischu. The reorganized family continued to play circuses like the Campbell Bros, and Coney Island for the next eight years until Sidonia began to get sick in 1923 and Buck left her for a performing dwarf named Doletta Boykin (or Dodd). Sidonia passed away in 1925. Nicu continued to exhibit himself solo as the Baron de Barcsy until the mid 1930s, whereupon “Little Nick” retired to the family’s house in Drummond, Oklahoma. He lived in that town as a local character until he passed away in 1976.
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss 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