“The Sensation of Vaudeville” San Antonio’s Siamese Twins Daisy and Violet Hilton Born Joined Together.

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“The Sensation of Vaudeville” San Antonio’s Siamese Twins Daisy and Violet Hilton Born Joined Together.

Kansas City, Missouri: Quigley Litho. Co., [ca. 1927]. Broadside, 40” x 26”, plus margins. Reinforced on verso with Japanese tissue. CONDITION: Very good.

A rare broadside promoting a Vaudeville performance by the conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, each shown holding a saxophone.

Born in England, Daisy and Violet Hilton (1908–1969) performed in Europe as children and as adults toured America’s sideshow, vaudeville, and burlesque circuits in the 1920s, ‘30s and beyond. Born joined at the hip/buttocks, the sisters shared blood circulation but no major organs. Sold at birth by their biological mother (an unwed barmaid), the twins were essentially held captive for much of their performing careers by several consecutive owners who took their income. Variously billed as The Siamese Twins, The Hilton Sisters, The Brighton Twins, etc., the sisters toured first in Britain in 1911 aged three as The United Twins. In 1916 they traveled to the U.S. to perform and in the 1920s came into the “possession” of Edith and Meyer Meyers who lived in San Antonio, Texas. The Meyers trained them in jazz, Violet learning saxophone and Daisy the violin. In 1931 the sisters sued their managers, successfully gaining their freedom as well as $100,000 in damages. They went into vaudeville as The Hilton Sisters' Revue (Daisy dyed her hair blonde), and later performed at burlesque venues. The present broadside was published prior to the sisters gaining their autonomy. In 1932, they appeared in the classic film Freaks and in 1951 starred in Chained for Life, an exploitation film loosely based on their lives. The Hiltons' final public appearance was at a drive-in in 1961 in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was here that their tour manager abandoned them, and with no means of transport or income they were forced to take a job in a local grocery store, where they worked the rest of their lives. In 1969, after failing to report to work, the twins were found dead in their home from the Hong Kong flu, Daisy having died first and Violet dying between two and four days later.

Worldcat records one copy, at the New York Public Library.

REFERENCES: Hayward, Susana S.A.'s Hilton twins lived for celebrity, longed for normalcy Susana Hayward at mysanantonio.com; Jensen, Dean. The Lives and Loves of Daisy and Violet Hilton (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2006).

Item #6801

Price: $1,500.00

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