Archive for midgets

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Littlest Lovers: Tom Thumb & Lavinia Warren

Posted in BUNKUM, Dime Museum and Side Show, Little People, STEAMPUNK/ VICTORIANA with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2017 by travsd

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“There’s someone for everybody” goes the old matchmaker’s expression, and perhaps no words rang truer on February 9, 1863, the day that professional little person Tom Thumb (Charles Stratton) married Lavinia Warren at Grace Church, New York. (I believe that’s Lavinia’s sister Minnie Warren as Maid of Honor; and Commodore Nutt as Best Man). This little stunt, the “Fairy Wedding” by the press, lightened people’s hearts during the depths of the Civil War. We present it to you in the same spirit today.

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It wasn’t just a publicity stunt, however; the two were a real couple. But even so, their boss P.T. Barnum was probably not too unhappy when the big event resulted in coverage like this:

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“I love you completely, my own, my all. But above all, I love this front page coverage in Harpers!”

More Than Munchkins: An Illustrated History of Performing Little People

Posted in BROOKLYN, Dime Museum and Side Show, EXHIBITIONS & LECTURES, Human Anomalies (Freaks), Little People, ME, My Shows with tags , , , , , on July 27, 2016 by travsd

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Today happens to be the birthday of both Fleming W. Ackerman (a.k.a “Colonel Speck”) and Major Edward Newell (a.k.a. “General Grant, Jr.”). (Click on the links to learn more about these illustrious Little People.

If the odds of a Little Person being born are small, and the odds of a performing Little Person even smaller, think how small the odds of TWO performing Little People being born on the same day! Seems to me an auspicious time to announce here my upcoming talk at the Morbid Anatomy Museum, entitled More Than Munchkins: An Illustrated History of Performing Little People. 

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For centuries Little People have been a mainstay of popular entertainment. In this illustrated talk, I will trace the historical ups and downs of very short-statured entertainers from medieval times through the era of P.T. Barnum and dime museums, to side shows and circuses, to vaudeville, to movies and television. Along the way, we trace the evolution of the Little Person’s image in popular culture, from one of cruel derision in the age of the court jester…to one of glamour, as personified by sex symbol and Emmy-winning actor Peter Dinklage…to a virtual return to carny days on reality tv.

The talk will take place Monday August 22, 2016 at 7pm at the Morbid Anatomy Museum, 424 Third Ave, Brooklyn. Tickets are $8

More info and tickets are here: http://morbidanatomymuseum.org/event/more-than-munchkins-a-history-of-performing-little-people-an-illustrated-lecture-with-trav-s-d/

Francis Joseph Flynn a.k.a “General Mite”

Posted in BUNKUM, Circus, Coney Island, Dime Museum and Side Show, Human Anomalies (Freaks), Little People with tags , , , , on October 6, 2013 by travsd

Today is the birthday of Francis Joseph Flynn (1872-1898), professionally known as “General Mite”. Born on a farm in upstate New York, his birth weight was two and a half pounds and his height in adulthood was never more than 27 inches (although he was exhibited as an “adult” when still a child, when he was obviously much shorter.)

He was first exhibited by his father at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. Billed as the “Smallest Man in the World” he was taken on tour by promoter F.M. Uffner along with fellow little person Lucia Zarate. In 1878-79 they appeared at Brighton Beach Bathing Pavilion, Coney Island. From there, it was on to England, where for publicity purposes the General was “married” to English little person Millie Edwards (despite the fact that he was all of twelve years old). In the 1880s, he appeared with Zarate again in the sideshow of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. When Zarate died in 1890, Flynn and Edwards moved to Australia. Flynn died there 8 years later at the age of 26 (his liver and kidneys had been steadily failing). He is now proudly remembered in both Greene, New York (the place of his birth) and Broken Hill, New South Wales (the place of his death).

To find out more about show business past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable 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

Minnie Warren

Posted in Dime Museum and Side Show, Human Anomalies (Freaks), Little People, Women with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2013 by travsd
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The Fickle Commodore Nutt Professes His Undying Love

Today is the birthday of Huldah Pierce Warren Bump (1849-1879), the sister of the more famous Lavinia Warren, wife of General Tom Thumb. Like her sister, Minnie performed as a singer, and worked for P.T. Barnum. She was to marry fellow little person Edmund Newell, a.k.a General Grant, Jr. Sadly she died giving birth to their first child at age 29.

To find out about  the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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For more on silent and slapstick comedy please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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Lavinia Warren

Posted in Dime Museum and Side Show, Human Anomalies (Freaks), Little People, Women with tags , , , , , , , on June 2, 2013 by travsd

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Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump (1841-1919) was the most famous female little person of the 19th century, but more than that — she was one of the most famous people of the 19th century period. Descended from no less than five Mayflower passengers, she began her professional working life as a schoolteacher, then began singing on a cousin’s riverboat. First courted by fellow performing little person Commodore Nutt, she was to go with the most eligible and appropriate bachelor of her time, General Tom Thumb. Her glorious wedding in 1863, orchestrated by P.T. Barnum was one of the most talked about events of the 19th century, and provided some badly needed whimsy when the nation was mired in the absolute depths of the Civil War. She and her famous husband toured the world and became fabulously wealthy. When the General passed away in 1883, Warren was to marry Count Primo Magri.

To find out about  the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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For more on silent and slapstick comedy please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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The Brothers Magri

Posted in Dime Museum and Side Show, Human Anomalies (Freaks), Little People with tags , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2013 by travsd

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The Magri brothers were a pair of Italian performing little people of the 19th century. Count Primo Magri, a.k.a Count Rosebud (1849-1920) was the 2 ft, 8 in. second husband of Lavinia Warren. His brother, whose name was either Giuseppi or Ernesto (both were given) was billed both as Baron Magri and Baron Littlefinger. Count Primo and Warren were to tour the world for a number of years, eventually settling down to run a roadside tourist attraction in her native Middleborough, Massachusetts.

To learn about the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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Commodore Foote and the Fairy Queen

Posted in Circus, Dime Museum and Side Show, Human Anomalies (Freaks), Little People with tags , , , , , , , on May 4, 2013 by travsd

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Charles Nestel was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1849; his sister Eliza followed in 1857. Both were midgets. They began performing publicly in 1861 in a show called The Little People. At full maturity both of the siblings stood around three feet tall. With the stage names Commodore Foote and the Fairy Queen the two performed in dime museums, with the sideshow of P.T. Barnum’s circus and the with the American Lilliputian Opera Company. When Charles passed away in 1937, Eliza was so despondent she only outlived him by ten days.

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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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

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