Joined At The Hip: The Hilton Sisters

Joined At The Hip: The Hilton Sisters

Daisy and Violet Hilton were some of the most famous sideshow performers - but their lives were not as bright and shining as it seemed.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, circuses and travelling shows were a major form of entertainment. Along with the trapeze artists, the clowns, and the animals, one of the most popular attractions at such an event was the sideshow, which was more often than not, a “freak” show. People with disabilities physical deformities, or otherwise “strange” looking, were paraded on stage, usually on their own terms, several of whom have become synonymous with the freak show concept itself. The Hilton sisters, Daisy and Violet, were raised on the road, and were an instant hit with the audiences that came out to see the shows - considering they were conjoined and performed everything from vaudeville to tap dancing. However, show biz was not the bright lighted world it appeared to be.

Daisy and Violet were born in a Brighton, England hospital, out of wedlock, to a young woman named Kate Skinner in 1908. While many conjoined twins appear to be “fused” together, sharing limbs and essential organs, Daisy and Violet were joined at the hip, and each had their own separate body, free to control independently of the other. Despite the relatively simple connection, doctors did not choose to attempt a separation out of fear of one twin dying. However, Skinner elected to quite literally sell the girls to Mary Hilton, whom Skinner worked for at the time. Hilton wanted to buy the girls to show them off on the sideshow circuit, knowing that people will pay to see the two - no matter how old they are. By age three, Daisy and Violet were being displayed in an England pub’s small sideshow, where onlookers would approach them and lift their clothing to see how exactly these two girls were joined.

Hilton was abusive in every sense to the girls, forcing them to learn dance, music, and other performance arts - and if they did something wrong, she or one of her several lovers (who the sisters had to call “sir”) would beat the girls or lock them away in a room until they got it right. This was an incredibly common occurrence, and the sisters had no real choice to do anything - at the time, they were still too young to be emancipated. Hilton referred to them as just “property,” which caused the girls to believe this from a very young age, seeing themselves as money makers for their “aunt.” They were not allowed to see any other people beyond the Hilton family, as that could make them want to get out of show business and stop making money for Hilton. Upon coming to America for a tour, the sisters were denied entry due to their condition, but Hilton was able to get them allowed through. While on tour in 1926, Bob Hope discovered the twins and put them on a tour with him, bringing them to superstardom. Mary Hilton died shortly after, and the girls were given to Edith and Meyer Meyers (yes that was his legal name), Hilton’s daughter and son-in-law. They continued the violence, even threatening to send them to an asylum if they didn’t perform their routines perfectly.

They eventually became connected with magician Harry Houdni, who was able to get them in contact with lawyers to help them escape the Meyers. In 1931, after years of abuse and fear, Daisy and Violet bought themselves out of the contract with Meyers, and were legally emancipated. While they reviled in the idea of finally having freedom, they were barely able to live independently - not because of their condition, but because they had never learned how to live without the Hilton family’s iron fist. They found new managers, who treated them as just another act to represent. While mostly retired - they still performed the occasional vaudeville or burlesque routine - the twins were cast in the 1932 film, Freaks, which had real circus freaks. The film was a massive success, but also generated controversy, with several audience members fainting, one woman even sued the studio and director Tod Browning (Dracula), claiming the film caused her miscarriage. Daisy and Violet went back to their small tours, and Violet attempted to marry her boyfriend Maurice Lambert, but the marriage certificate was denied in several states, as several states believed the certificate would cover both girls, and bigamy was against the law. The girls did end up eventually getting married however, Violet in 1936 (to a different man) and Daisy in 1941, but neither marriage lasted long - Violet’s was mostly on paper to help advertise their shows, and Daisy was divorced within ten days. When asked about how they handled the times one sister was having sex with their husband, Violet said "I just turn over and read a book and eat an apple."

As the interest in freak shows became less and less, the Hilton sisters, who had never been given a proper education, continued their public appearances, and starred in one final movie, an exploitation film loosely inspired by their own lives, titled Chained for Life. After, Daisy and Violet attempted to get out of the entertainment industry altogether, opening up a hot dog stand, but this venture did not last long and the girls had no choice but to go back to appearing at events, as if a relic of a pre-World War II time. After a handful of shows during the 1950s, the two made an appearance at a drive-in movie theater in North Carolina in 1961. After they did their show, they were abandoned by their manager - who left with their transportation, leaving them completely stranded. Looking for work, they found themselves a job at a local grocery store, doing promotional material as well as doing regular cashier work. In January 1969, they did not show up to work, prompting their boss to call police to make sure the two were okay. There, they found Daisy and Violet Hilton had died of the Hong Kong Flu, aged 60. Daisy died first, and Violet, too ill to call for help, died just days later.

Despite being one of the most famous sideshow attractions, the Hilton sisters never received a single penny from any of their tours under the Meyer or Hilton control. Unlike many other sideshow performers, such as their Freaks co-stars Johnny Eck, Prince Radian, Schlitze, the Doll Family, and Frances O’Connor, Daisy and Violet Hilton were forced into a life where they would never know anything else other than performing. They died poor, in obscurity, and while they did enjoy their work, the twins’ days of being a hot ticket show were long over. The Hilton sisters stand among the sideshow freaks as some of the most tragic, and one must wonder what kind of life they would have had if not beaten and forced into making money. The freak shows no longer tour the world, but the stories of the performers, be it one of enjoyment and a good living, or one of fear and abuse, will continue to stand the test of time.

Cover Image Credit: Iconographic Collections/Wikimedia Commons

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18 Times Kate Middleton Was Actually All Of Us In College, Beside The Princess Thing

Every girl has to go through her clueless college stage before she reaches Duchess status.

Kate Middleton is basically a household name by now, and how could this not be the case when she has the gorgeous hair, kind smile, and incredible fashion sense. With her constantly in the spotlight looking so put together, we sometimes forget that the Duchess was actually all of us in college!

Here are 18 times that Kate proved she was just like all of us.

1. Going all out in the name of school spirit

There is nothing like breaking out the war paint and screaming for your home team. Like Kate, we all love to get a little messy and make some memories with our friends.

2. Hanging out with the roomies

Some people may not get lucky in this area but for those who are best friends with their roommates, they understand the love. It's a dream come true for everyone who has always wanted to live with their best friends. It's like a sleepover that never ends.

3. Dressing up cute on the first day of school...

You got to make a good first impression on your way to school. Whether it's during your 7 A.M or 4 P.M., it's always best to dress to impress.

4. ...and wearing yoga pants for the rest of the year

And this goes all the way until the last week of school when you don't bother getting out of bed to wear pants at all.

5. Going grocery shopping and throwing in cookies, ice-cream, and every type of Pringles because your mom isn't there to say no

You'll probably regret that in a few months when the Freshman Fifteen kicks in.

6. Walking for miles from your car to your dorm carrying groceries

We can't park by the apartment for a solid five minutes to carry our groceries up to the kitchen or we will risk a ticket, but we can walk a few miles carrying food that gets heavier, and heavier, and heavier with every step.

7. Going out for a night on the town on a Friday night

Dancing, laughter, and fun? Everyone in college has been to a party or two. It's a classic part of the college experience. Sometimes you just need a distraction from all the essays and tests.

8. Being so late to class you threw on whatever your hands grabbed next

We've all been there. Our alarm doesn't go off, we press snooze a few too many times, or forget to even set an alarm and next thing you know we are running around the dorm room like Taz from Looney Toons. You throw on whatever, then run to class.

Unfortunately 9/10 times our outfits don't turn out. Although, Kate can certainly pull off this look, no matter how mismatched.

9. Pretending your walking to the same building as the cute boy you met so you have the excuse to keep talking to him

I am very guilty of doing this. Although I missed my class, at least I got to talk to the really cute boy who has class at 9:45 in the STEM building. It was worth it.

10. Sitting on the floor or standing because you're a poor college student who can't afford chairs or tables

Eating on the floor? Always. Being a college kid is tough and sometimes you have to sacrifice some things to obtain the others. Such as choosing chocolate milk and Halo Top over vegetables and hair conditioner.

Judging by Kate's beautiful locks, she chose the conditioner.

Probably the vegetables too.

We should just all follow her example.

11. Going on cute date with the boy you followed to class-turned-boyfriend

Now my short-lived romance may not have extended farther than us talking and walking to his class, but Kate and William obviously had a better ending. Nevertheless, college is the place to grow and date and possibly find the one.

12. Keeping your hair long and growing because you can't afford to get it cut

Don't trust your roommate. No matter how many times she begs you to let her cut it. Don't.

13. Turning 21 and getting dressed up and going out with your best friends

While this one probably doesn't apply to Kate, since you can drink at age 18 in most countries, all my people in the United States know the sweet freedom of turning 21. It's an iconic time in a students life and marks a huge milestone as well.

14. Passing out flyers for some type of movement or protest

Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger - which is why college is the time to stand up for what you believe in. May that be RedforEd, Planned Parenthood, anti-Abortion, Trump, the Wall, pizza bagels, it's all an exercise of the first amendment.

15. Ranting to your friends about the professor that just "doesn't understand you"

You know your thinking about that professor right now as you read this. And you know that that's your reaction whenever they give you a bad grade or say something you disagree with at the tiniest degree.

16. Getting glammed-up for those senior photos

Pick out your best outfit and make sure it's a good hair day because everyone will be viewing these photos forever... and in Kate's place that is more than true. Luckily she looks as gorgeous as ever. Does she ever have a bad hair day?

17. Walking out of your last class knowing you'll never have to write a single paper again

And purposefully not thinking about how you will be going into the real world in less than a few days.

18. When you've graduated and realized you have no idea what you're going to do with your life

Maybe a prince will be right around the corner to sweep you off your feet so you won't have to figure your life out.
Cover Image Credit: Laura Warshauer

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The Football World Loses One Of Its Finest Players

Bart Starr passed away and NFL players, coaches, and fans all mourn the loss of the Packer legend, but his life and career will live on in hearts of Packer nation forever.


Bart Starr passed away at the age of 85 in Birmingham, Alabama. The NFL lost a great player. The Green Bay Packers lost a hero. And, the world lost a true gentleman. Starr's legacy has surpassed his accomplishments on the gridiron. He inspired not only his peers but the generations that have come after him. He is — and always — will be remembered as a Hall of Famer, a champion, and a Packer.

Bart Starr was a Packers legend. Starr led Green Bay to six division titles and five world championships. As the quarterback of Vince Lombardi's offense, he kept the machine going and executed the plays like no other. His mastery of the position was a large part of the Packers success in the 1960s. Starr was also the perfect teammate for the perfect team. His leadership put him in command of the Packers. Starr's time in Green Bay will not be forgotten by former players, coaches, and the fans.

Bart Starr's resume is rivaled by few in NFL history. He played in 10 postseason games and won 9 of them. He led the Packers to victory in Super Bowls I and II and won the MVP award in both games. He was the MVP of the league in 1966 and was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s. The Packers retired his number 15 and Starr has been inducted into the Packers and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After his playing days, Starr would become the head coach of the Packers. He could not repeat the success he had on the field from the 1960s teams. His coaching years do not take away from his legacy as one of the all-time great Packers. Starr was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

One of Starr's last visits to Lambeau field was on a cold November night in 2015. Starr and his wife attended a ceremony in which the Packers retired Brett Favre's jersey number. Starr was the perfect personification of what it meant to be a Packer. His most heroic moment came in the 1967 NFL Championship Game. The Ice Bowl came down to a third and goal in Lambeau Field's south endzone against the Dallas Cowboys. Starr came to the sidelines and bravely told Vince Lombardi that he can sneak it in for a game-winning touchdown. Lombardi then replied, "Run it, and let's get the hell out of here." Starr ran a quarterback sneak for the game-winner and the Packers were off to Super Bowl II. Without Starr, Green Bay would not have won a second straight Super Bowl. His leadership in big game moments will live with Packers fans for a lifetime.

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Starr leaves behind his wife Cherry, his son, and three granddaughters. Packers fans will have a tight grip on the memories Bart Starr and the 60s teams created. Starr left behind a template for being a Green Bay Packer. He also left a template for being a good man and a gentleman of the game of football. He was a competitor and a leader. Packer nation mourns for the loss of one of the finest human beings the game has seen.

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