586 Pounds of Feminine Charm


Most of the time we never think of the folks that travel with the circus sideshows, when we do what comes to mind isn't their humanity or their lives, if we think of them at all. Most of their history has been lost to the ages, Pat Grahn has taken the time searching through archives and talking with family, friends and other folks that knew her Aunt.   Gathering each precious memory of this wonderful lady weaving them into a fascinating story that will give you great insight into her Aunt Ella Mills, "The last Fat Girl to work under canvas for the Greatest Show on Earth."


Pat's book is a well written history of her Aunt Ella.  She shares with the reader  the history of  the lady who loved the show, who spent time sharing her life with the may folks that visited her on the inside of the sideshow.  She was a loving person, with great compassion for others.  Pat helps us to understand her Aunt and the life she lived not only on the midways but her personal struggles and the victories that made her the woman that she was.


Pat's book 586 Pounds of Feminine Charm is just that, a look into her Aunt Ella's life and beneath her many pounds, to find the humanity of a very special person who's memory will  live on in the pages of Pat's book and in the hearts of each of its readers.


John Robinson Sideshow World  



"I wish I could say, in my historical (and physical) delving into the sideshow business, that the families of sideshow performers were all loving and respectful an damned proud of their show folk kin who worked the midways of circuses and carnivals, the store shows, the world's fairs.  But if I said that, I'd be countering what came to be all too common in a greater part of the 20th Century for the business, during the golden era of the business: For every family which held high the banner of their show brethren, there was another - of two or three or more - which was either glad their budding performer split for the road or who let a show adopt their offspring outright, to prevent the family the "Burden" of caring for them."


*James Taylor from the forward of Pat Grahn book.


My Aunt Ella was the final sideshow “fat lady” under the canvas tents and in the dirt lots of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus.  One newspaper article said she was “300 pounds of ‘heart’ and 286 pounds of ‘personality.’” For a woman weighing almost six hundred pounds, nothing in life was small for Aunt Ella.  Her massive bosom honked the car horn every time she got behind the wheel, each of her show gowns required over twelve yards of fabric, and chairs broke under her massive behind.  When she died she needed a custom casket and two burial plots to accommodate it.  Even the pearly gates must not have been wide enough to fit her tremendous bulk as her ghost haunts the trailer which was her retirement home.  Take a “light” hearted journey with me as I discover more about my Aunt Ella and her life on and off the road with the sideshow.


Pat Grahn


My Aunt Ella Mills - Learn More on Sideshow World


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*James Taylor 's Shocked and Amazed! On and Off the Midway is the world's only publication devoted to the history and current status of sideshow, novelty and variety exhibition.  Covering the sideshow for over two decades, Mr. Taylor is considered to be the formost authority on the sideshow, and has been featured in the media worldwide for his work in the field.  He is also the co-founder of Baltimore's American Dime Museum and Washington D.C.'s Place of Wonders.


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