The Headless Girl


Who now owns the original Headless Woman Sideshow? - Fargo, Sweetwater TN

Fargo, "Olga the Headless Girl" was an illusionary sideshow and was first brought to the United States in 1937 from Hamburg, Germany, by a man who billed himself as "Doctor" Heineman. It was also a featured exhibit at the New York World's Fair of 1939 and became a very popular sideshow amusement

Heineman staged "Olga, the Headless Girl" in Blackpool, England before bringing the exhibit to America. Its popularity in England at the time is substantiated by the fact that in 1938 there were at least nine Olga shows.

The show was a great success at the fair. Many reincarnations of the show have been presented over the years. Hall and Christ had two headless attractions in the mid 1970s and Chris built an elaborate one which was presented at the largest fairs in the U S in 1981-1982, and also with the Conklin shows in Canada in 1983. The only one currently that I am aware of is owned by Lee Kalozy and toured fairs in 2003. In 2002 it made a short tour with the rock concert show Oz Fest.

The Headless Woman with other acts appear in Todd Robbin’s Carnival Knowledge, which opened this summer. Robbins presents this off-Broadway sideshow experience in the comfort of the SoHo Playhouse. Some of the more traditional acts that appear alive on the inside are the classic ten-in-one acts such as The human blockhead, sword swallowing and fire eating. He also showcases the odd and unusual Twistina the Rubber Lady, The Headless Woman, Madame Electra, The Flying Ebola Brothers and most jaw-dropping of all, The Gorilla Girl. One of the things that sets this performance apart from others is Todd relates the history behind the American sideshow, traces its rise and fall, and dispels its many myths. As he puts it, Carnival Knowledge "lifts the canvas tent flap" on the sideshow and explains the how and why, demonstrating what makes the impossible become possible. Several of today’s haunted houses have used the traditional sideshow optical illusions the ‘‘headless woman.’’ In this room, the body of a live woman sat in a chair. Tubes protruded from her neck, creating the illusion that she had no head. She would constantly reach at the ‘‘doctor’’ tending her. The doctor would constantly push her hands away, behaving as if this was nothing but an annoyance that this headless woman kept grabbing at him.

Carny Lingo: Headless Girl Illusion/Show is where a living ‘headless’ girl or women are put on display. Usually it is pitched as a medical miracle, following a tragic accident. - John Robinson Sideshow


Some information and assistance provided by Ward Hall.


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