Violetta (performer)

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Violetta in 1925

Aloisia Wagner (born 1906/1907, date of death unknown), better known by her stage name Violetta, was born without legs or arms with a condition known as tetra-amelia syndrome. She was born in Hemelingen, Germany, and had a lengthy career in sideshow performance.[1]

Violetta3.jpg

On March 23, 1924, she left her birth city of Bremen-Hemelingen, Germany, with her stepbrother and manager, Karl Grobecker, aboard the SS George Washington which arrived in New York on April 3, 1924.[2] According to the ship manifest, Aloisia had blonde hair and green eyes, was 3 feet tall, and was allowed into the U.S. for 25 weeks to work for Samuel W. Gompertz in his Dreamland Circus Side Show.[3] She is shown to be the daughter of Elise Wagner, of Hemelingen, Moltkestr 26 (map[4]). The manifest's "Held For Special Inquiry" page shows that both were held (in hospital) for one day before being allowed to enter the U.S. Other pages of the manifest from this ship show many members of the John Robinson Circus, which was later acquired by John Nicholas Ringling, Violetta's later employer.

For many years Aloisia performed in several sideshows and Freak shows as a singer and oddity, including Coney Island's Dreamland, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and the Mighty Haag Circus. A 1925 photo (shown on page) shows her performing at the World Museum (freak show) in Los Angeles.[5] According to his biography, famed writer Jean Cocteau visited Violetta at Luna Park, Paris in 1927, describing her as "a stubborn German woman."[6] In 1929, the Belgium surrealist journal Variétés published a photo of Violetta.

Wallace Stort of the London Life Magazine wrote of her several times.[7][8][9] Stort's 1940 article is the last known publication referencing Violetta, describing in detail how she moved herself by hopping from place to place on the bottom of her torso, and was able to manipulate objects with her mouth enough to comb her own hair, dress herself, thread a needle, and sew. Stort also stated that Violetta was married and wore her wedding band on a gold chain around her neck, though no other information about her husband can be found.[10]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Marc Hartzman -American sideshow: an encyclopedia of history's most wondrous 2005 p225 "Having not a single arm, leg, or stump, Violetta was known as the Trunk Woman and the Human Torso. She was born Aloisia Wagner in Germany in 1907, and came to America in April 1924 to exhibit herself at Coney Island Dreamland."
  2. ^ List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigration Officer at Port of Arrival, SS George Washington Passengers Sailing from Bremen, March 23, 1924, Arriving at Port of New York, April 3, 1924.
  3. ^ Liberty Ellis Foundation ship manifest Page 1 Page 2
  4. ^ Google (5 February 2017). "Violetta (performer)" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 5 February 2017. 
  5. ^ 1925 Photo of Violetta from Circus World
  6. ^ Claude Arnaud (27 September 2016). Jean Cocteau: A Life. Yale University Press. p. 457. ISBN 978-0-300-18216-3. 
  7. ^ Famous Though Limbless, London Life Magazine, September, 1926
  8. ^ Limbless People I Have Met, London Life Magazine, February, 1929
  9. ^ Amazing Account Of A Limbless Beauty Show, London Life Magazine, January, 1940
  10. ^ Wallace Stort, Amazing Account Of A Limbless Beauty Show, London Life magazine, 27 January 1940

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