Captain Fred Walters (1855-1923) was an officer in the British army who was prescribed a compound containing silver to treat a certain neural condition. The regular ingestion of silver turned his skin blue. In 1891 he began to tour American sideshows, displaying his blue skin for fun and profit. He continued to consume silver over the years, growing bluer all the while, but the gambit eventually took its toll. He died of silver poisoning in 1923. The man literally died (dyed) for his art. When he passed away, I’m told his family was very blue. Okay, I’ll stop.
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