Dwarfs are Not Uncommon
Dwarfs are not
uncommon. The "Little People of America", has a large membership
of dwarfs and midgets who are involved in every kind of
occupation. The number in various forms of show business is a
minute percentage. The little people who choose our form of show
business are usually good performers. I know several who owned
their own shows. Dwarfs "Buttons and Bows" Grantham owned a big
trained primate show presenting chimpanzees, some of which were
larger than themselves. Dwarf brothers Gil and Leonard Tracy
were both married to dwarf women, and each owned an animal show.
When Gil passed away, his wife Noma came with us for a season.
When her car and house trailer were demolished on a slick road
in Pennsylvania, Noma decided to retire rather than invest in
Cliff and Mamie King are dwarfs who had quit the business for a
time after the show operator they had been with gave up his
Finding that their earnings were better in show business so they
traveled with circuses before coming with us. Mamie is from
South Carolina and is a real southern charmer. Cliff is from
Minnesota, took a genuine interest and pride in the sideshow
business. He is extremely knowledgeable about every aspect of
our industry. Sober and reliable, they are people one is proud
to associate with.
As costs of traveling were rising rapidly, Cliff made an
ultimatum that when gasoline reached fifty cents a gallon he
would quit the road. That price scale was reached while our show
was playing the Indiana state Fair. True to his word, they
finished the fair and went home to Minnesota where they have
remained as gasoline prices continue to rise.
The next fair was Knoxville, Tennessee, where Chuck Rose, a
handsome little man was hired to finish the season.
Ruby Sadler was brought to the U.S. from Jamaica by Harold
Overturf. When we were short an act at a big fair, her current
manager, Jack Constantine, was kind enough to let her help us
out. She is planning to return to Jamaica and build her dream
Another diminutive woman was Little Margie, from a Long Island
Italian family, managed by Frances Schmidt. In days of
vaudeville, she was starred with Singer's midgets. At the Palace
Theatre in New York, they shared the bill with comedienne,
Sophie Tucker, who's act they followed.
While getting in position for their act, Sophie performed in
front of the curtain.
When a stage hand prematurely opened the curtain, a startled
Sophie declared. My God Iím up to my ass in midgets!"
Indeed she was.
Billy Taylor, a dwarf tattoo artist never worked for or with me
but I had the pleasure of working with his wife Bobbie "The Bull
Dog Girl". A little Jewish lady from New York, her family was in
the garment business and she was a real fashion plate. Her
descriptive title was the result of a misshaped face and rather
bent arms. Billy had to quit when his eyesight failed. Bobbie
outlived him in retirement at their home in Gibsonton, Florida
which had been custom built with all cupboards, tables and
chairs scaled down to fit their size. At a dinner party at the
Showmen's Club, a man approached her, "Bobbie The Bull Dog Girl!
I haven't seen you in years." She replied, "You still haven't
seen her. I retired that act twenty years ago". Billy was an
accomplished magician and ventriloquist. I cherish the
ventriloquist dummy he gave me.
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©1991-2008 Ward Hall,
all rights reserved. The stories and images are
excepts for Ward Hall's book My Very Unusual Friends.
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