George H. Sutton

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George H. Sutton, the "no arm billiardist" ca. 1923.

George H. Sutton (1870–1938)[1] known as the "handless billiard player",[2] was a carom billiards professional in the United States and Europe[3] in the early 1900s. He was called a "billiards expert" and he competed with other notable billiards professionals such as Willie Hoppe.[4] Sutton had no arms below the elbows, which made his ability to master the game even more remarkable.

Personal life[edit]

A Canadian by birth, George Sutton lost both of his arms below the elbows in a sawmill accident at the age of eight.[5] Despite this handicap, he studied medicine, and graduated from Wisconsin State College (now the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee).[1] Sutton became a successful billiards player and was said to "amaze people" with his prowess. He competed professionally for 35 years.

Sutton married Franziska Alvina (Frances) Renk (b. 1873). They had three surviving children; Bessie Cordelia (b. 1894), Lee George Jr. (1896–1965), and Earl Patrick (1898–1935). Sutton died of a heart attack in Toledo, Ohio, at the age of 68. Even the final year of his life was spent touring. During this US tour, Sutton gave lectures and appeared in exhibitions as an employee of a Chicago billiard company.[6]

Family legend says[citation needed] that George Sutton had a wandering eye and spent time with female companions other than his wife Frances. The Man Who Wrote With His Elbows by Arthur "Bugs" Baer written in early 1916, seems to corroborate this information. Apparently George was being hounded by a girlfriend's suitor and took it upon himself to finalize any threats by initiating a confrontation. In the end George gained the "upper hand" when he used billiard balls in a very unconventional, but effective manner.

Professional career[edit]

Sutton learned to play billiards while he was in college. He mastered his skills enough to set a world record in balkline competitions.[1] In 1908, he went to Paris for eight months where he was contracted to play in billiards matches with other Americans at the Café Olympia.[3] Sutton used no artificial devices, holding the cue between his two elbows and providing propulsion from the strong and flexible muscles in the stumps of his severed arms.[2] A film clip from the turn of the 20th century is known to exist showing Sutton as he demonstrates his abilities.[7]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Articles about Sutton's billiard matches:

Other sources of information:

Picture of Billiard Hall with audience: