Lillie B. Williams

Dick Best recalls how he acquired Betty Lou

 

Betty Lou Williams was born on January 10, 1932 in Albany, Georgia as Lillie B. Williams. The daughter of poor sharecroppers and the youngest of twelve children, she was discovered at the age of one year by showman Dick Best. Best changed the little girl's name from Lillie to Betty Lou for unknown reasons, and began showing her at his New York museum, where she came to the attention of Robert Ripley, of Believe it or Not?! fame. Ripley and Best negotiated and Betty Lou was allowed to be shown at the Ripley's Believe it or Not?! Odditorium at the Chicago World's Fair in 1934.

Working for Ripley, Betty Lou made $250 a week - at the age of two! As an adult, her earnings would nearly quadruple, leaving her wealthy enough to buy a 260-acre, $40,000 farm for her parents and send all eleven of her siblings to college. Dick Best said that "Betty Lou was not only one of the greatest freaks ever born, she was one of the finest, most generous people I ever knew" (Hartzmann).

 

Betty was not only generous but beautiful as well. Anatomically, she was perfect, except for - or perhaps in addition to - her parasitic twin, which consisted of two legs and an arm with three fingers (actually it had two arms, although the second was little more than a single digit). Sometimes she dressed the twin in custom-made miniature clothes and shoes, and she kept it hidden under maternity clothes when she wasn't onstage. According to her promotional material, Betty's "little sister" had its head imbedded in her torso. Nevertheless, doctors proclaimed her healthy and said she had "a good chance to live to be very old." Alas, they were wrong.

 

Her good looks and kind disposition did not go unnoticed by male suitors, and Betty became engaged to one of them. Those who knew the couple claimed this man was only after her fortune, and when he left her, he took a good deal of her money with him. Soon afterwards, Betty Lou suffered a severe asthma attack in her home in Trenton, New Jersey, and died. She was only 23 years old. Friends claim she died of a broken heart.

 (Elizabeth Anderson - Phreeque)

 


 

Showman Dick Best recalls how he acquired Betty Lou

 

Dick Best liked to recall the manner in which he acquired Betty Lou Williams, the Four Legged Girl, for his show.  He relates that he heard rumors of a four-legged girl in the backwoods of Georgia and determined to verify them for himself.  After five days of beating the brush near Albany, Ga., he questioned a crossroads general store owner about the girl.  The proprietor looked askance at him and said he would be glad to get someone who could help him.

 

The offer of aid rejuvenated the tired searcher, but to his surprise it came in the form of a sheriff and a few deputies, who marched the protesting Dick off to the pokey on the grounds that anyone hunting a four legged girl mush be off the beam.

 

After eight hours of incarceration in the town jail at Richland, Ga., he was released and resumed his search.   On a chance he asked a local schoolboy if he know of the elusive girl, proffering a dollar for the information.  The boy calmly led him to the home of Betty Lou Williams-only a few hundred years for the general area he have been combing for several days.

 

Images

Betty Lou Williams 18 years old  - She is the top midway show attraction at the MI State Fair - September 1950 - Photograph by Francis Miller

Life Magazine
Dick Best - 1956
 


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