Betty MacGregor, a.k.a Stella the Bearded Lady


Today is the birthday of Betty “Stella the Bearded Lady” MacGregor (1902-1977). A native of Battle Creek, Michigan she initially spent many years pursuing more traditional careers in teaching and nursing, but had to sneak off to shave up to six times a day so no one would noticed her whiskers. She began working for sideshows in the World War II era, among them Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey, and Ward Hall. She retired sometime after the 1970s, when sideshows were in the depth of their decline. It is said that she spent her last years passing as a man and working as an accountant.

To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous


  1. I also worked with Betty back then, on the show Pete Kortes’ owned, (including for CalExpo). I think Ward Hall told me she later worked as an architect, and had a procedure done to live as a man.


  2. I worked with her closely at the California State Fair (CalExpo) the summer of 1972. She was intelligent and her management skills really ran the show. That was an enriching experience for me, though it seems a sad place to work for someone of her skill level. Back then, then were sadly called Freaks. It is good that people have become more empathetic to mixed gender humans.


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