Today is the birthday of Arthur James Caley, billed as Colonel Routh Goshen, the Middlebush Giant (1837-1889). While Middlebush sounds very English, and he may have been born in a village on the Isle of Man, the town he is named for is in New Jersey, where he retired. The “Routh Goshen” part, sounding very Old Testament was meant to imply a connection to Goliath, the ancient Philistine. His public bio said that he was Palestinian, and he was also known as the Palestine Giant. The Isle of Man seems to be the more plausible and there is some documentation, and it is likely that he performed first in London, then Paris, before coming to New York’s Bowery, where P.T. Barnum discovered him. He stood anywhere from 7’4′ to 8’6″ (his boss was known to exaggerate such things). He once starred in a production of Jack, the Giant Killer with a cast of midgets. At the time of his death, Goshen had amassed $10,000 (a fortune in those days) and gone through three wives.
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