The Rossow Midgets

Just a few fragments I’ve been able to gather on the act known as the Rossow Midgets. Originally from Vienna, they were sideshow triple threats: “twin” strongmen little people. The twins are in quotes because they weren’t, really. Karl (later known as Charles or Charlie) was born in 1875; Franz (later known as Frank or Frankie) was born two years later. They both stood under three feet tall. Their real last name was Actermeier.

Their professional name came from their manager and promoter Herman Rossow. Starting out in circuses, fairs, amusement parks, and vaudeville in the 1890s, their prize gimmick was staged boxing matches, which they performed on the circuits for decades before being eclipsed by the Matina Brothers, Mike and Ike around the late nineteen-teens. In 1909 the brothers successfully sued Rossow for $10,000 owed to them, and the right to continue using the Rossow name, though they were firing him and replacing him with their brother.

For related reading, please check out Rose’s Royal Midgets and Other Little People in Vaudeville.