According to some sources, today is the birthday of bearded lady Annie Jones (circa 1860-1902). Already a furry specimen by age nine months, she was hired (under the care of her mother) to be exhibited by P.T. Barnum, for whom she worked for most of her career. She came to be one of his most prominent and well paid attractions, and the best known bearded lady in the country. As the above photo attests she was not just bearded, but substantially hirsute, sporting locks that were several feet long. She was also able to sing and play several musical instruments. When she was still a girl she was reportedly kidnapped by a phrenologist who briefly exhibited her before being captured by police but most scholars believe it was just a publicity stunt of Barnum’s. Jones married twice and died in her early 40s, of TB contracted while she was touring France with the Barnum and Bailey Circus. She passed away at her mother’s home on Cornelia Street in New York’s Greenwich Village.
To find out more about the history of show business. including sideshows, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.