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, 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