Who Owned Marie


I read your piece on Marie O'Day and I'm trying to track down who owned her before Capt. Boswell.  Ron and I did the examination on her two years ago, but we are finally getting around to writing up the story now.  We got the librarians in Salt Lake City and the Utah Historical Society to search the records.  They found nothing on a "Marie O'Day" or a murder as described by the legend.  The only other clue we have left are her dentures. They were made of this material call vulcanite.  It was first manufactured in 1864 and was popular until the 1940's.  We know the Captain got her in '75. Do you know who any of the previous owners were?  Prof. Gerald Conlogue Quinnipiac University Hamden CT.


Jerry, W.F. (Dub) Duggan owned Marie, he sold her to Charlie Campbell, a showman out of Sylva, N.C. He worked for several years and sold her to a showman named Hoot Black, out of Athens, Alabama. He sold her to Capt. Harvey Boswell out of North Carolina. It is my understanding that Capt. Boswell's brother still owns her.



The information below is from W.F. (Dub) Duggan,



by W. F.. (Dub) Duggan,


Wherever I go, the question that I am asked the most, is the true story of Marie O'Day, and the three seasons I spent exhibiting her body. I never thought much of telling the story, because three years with Marie is enough, and the story is not funny or it is not meant to be. I guess it is interesting and shows the reader something. Besides, there are some people that will be heartsick if I don't write it down. So, here goes.




"Please allow me to direct your attention to the back of the tent where I am going to show you the body of Marie O'Day. Now this extra added attraction (meaning you had to pay extra to see it) is the same body that you have read about in the newspapers, and in the detective magazines, it has been featured in Sunday papers for several years. By special arrangement, with the State of Utah, you are going to see this body, and the powers of the Great Salt Lake, in preserving and mummifying a human body.


Now, Marie was a beautiful red headed, American girl who was a professional dancer. She was murdered by being stabbed in her right side, by her lover, who threw her body into the Great Salt Lake, where it washed to the shore, and was covered up by the salt, sand and minerals, and remained there for some eighteen years. The Dance Casino burned down and in excavating for a new Casino, her body was discovered by workers.


By special arrangements with the State of Utah, this show, The Pan American Animal Exhibit, has received special permission to exhibit the body. When you come back here I am going to open the casket and show you this body from the top of her head to the > bottom of her feet. I will show you the beautiful red hair upon her head, and you will be allowed to touch it if you wish. You will see the eyes, the teeth and lips, the breasts, hands and fingernails, and on down the body to the legs and feet. I will take the body out of the casket, and turn it over so that you might examine the backside.


Compliments of the State of Utah." In the small towns that we showed in, everybody knew everybody, and what they did, so all heads would turn and look at a man or woman, and that way I would know what I was working with. Not that I could do anything about it, but did put me on notice. If you can't tell the difference between a doctor and an undertaker, you really need to get into another line of work.


 Going on with my speech, I would say, "For the rest of you people, it will be 25 cents for adults and 15 cents for children. Pay, and walk right in. Get in early and get a good place to see.> " How it may seem like to some of you that we did not get a lot of money. But, in those days, it was all the traffic would pay. If I had thought I could have gotten more, I would have. Marie O'Day took in a lot of money. Never less than one hundred dollars and day, and most days more than that. The biggest gross that I remember was in Harley, Ky. where I got over one thousand dollars in one day. After I sold her body to Charlie Campbell, he took in over two thousand dollars in three days in Chattanooga, Tenn. When you start talking about hundred and thousands of dollars in the 1940s and 50s, you are talking about serious money.




First, the body was an embalmed body of some woman, and the red hair was for real. I don't think it was a real stab wound in her right side. I really don't know how she died. I don't think Marie ever saw the Great Salt Lake, and I doubt that she was ever in the state of Utah. I heard a lot of stories of where she came from, and I don't know when one is the truth.


The one that sounds the best is that she was found dead, sitting in the waiting room of a bus station in Mississippi. There was no I.D. on her body, or in her handbag, but she was well dressed and looked like class. The undertaker assumed that someone would show up to claim her body, and it would be only a matter of days until he would be rid of her. Well, the days turned into weeks, then months, then years, and still no one showed up.


The poor undertaker kept waiting and putting in more formaldehyde to preserve her, and wondering what to do next. After so much time had passed, a traveling showman came by and offered him something for her. It seemed like a good idea to sell and recover something, but better still, to get rid of her and out of town and gone. After all, the undertaker didn't have a lot of options open to him. So, he sold.


Somehow, the traveling showman went by the Pan American Animal Exhibit, and sold out for $200. I have never seen a receipt, or any other written proof that is what happened, but it is still uncommon when dealing in cash money, not to put everything in writing.


The first time I ever saw the body; she was displayed in an old wooden crate, and presented by an old time Showman, by the name of Bill Stiles. Bill was a nice fellow, but he was subject to being suddenly taken drunk, generally at the most un-opportune time. That's how I got his job. One night in some little town in Kentucky, it was time for Bill to make the presentation, and he fell down on the stage drunk, so there being no one else available, I took over. Did a hell of a good job with it, especially with the part about Bill not being drunk, but instead was grief-stricken, as he knew Marie in real life.


I bought Marie a casket, changed a couple of things in the pitch, like making her a professional dancer, which gave her a reason to be in a casino. Couple of other little changes and worked the pitch very hard, because I was cut in for half of the money. It was the first big or serious money that I ever made. Jean use to laugh about running our fingers down the left side of the menu, ordering whatever we wanted to eat. Everybody else had to run down the right side to see what each item cost before ordering.


I am most asked if we ever had any problems with the law. I worked it for almost three years, and there were others behind me, and I never heard of any trouble. I don't know if there is a law against it or not. I never heard of it and I don't think it comes up often enough to have need for such a law. In those days there were a lot of freak shows, and they were very popular. Today, there are none and they wouldn't make money if there were.


I am often asked whatever happened to Marie, and I don't know. I sold her to Charlie Campbell, a showman out of Sylva, N.C. He worked for several years and sold her to a showman named Hoot Black, out of Athens, Alabama. I heard that some person in North Carolina bought her from Hoot, and still has her in his home, but does not exhibit her. That's enough about Marie O'Day. I have told you what I know, and I hope certain people are happy.


Marie was sold to Hoot Black who also owned and exhibited Gold Tooth Jimmy. Jimmy resides in Maryland with a collector and Marie is owned by the showman, Capt. Harvey Boswell who owned her until his death.


Additional Information:


Gold Tooth Jimmy was purchased by a collector in Maryland.


I have pictures of him looking at the mummies of Gold Tooth & Marie on Boswell property.  He never did buy Marie, as he said her back was broken and she was apparently mounted on a board.  The last I heard was Boswell's brother still has her.  It is my understanding that some of his estate has been sold, I was told that at one time his brother wanted to sell it intact, but may have pieced some of it if not all of it.  I haven't confirmed the information of the sale. John Robinson Sideshow World


Prof. Gerald Conlogue is better know for his work on the Mummy Road Show which airs on the National Geographic Channel.


Ron Beckett and Jerry Conlogue, are professors of health science at Quinnipiac University Hamden CT. They co-host the program which is a fast paced half-hour television series following the adventures of Ron and Jerry, who have a passion for the off-beat -- mummies. They also have a talent that goes with that passion -- investigating mummies using x-ray and endoscopic technologies.  

Special Thank to: MARIE O'DAY by W. F. (Dub) Duggan, Bob Blackmar

Tickets courtesy of Ricky Hargrove, Photos of Marie Brain Ezzelle and Mark Frierson


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