I was meant for the stage

Bertha O’Bannion, aged 9 months. Bertha’s future circus career as “Bountiful Bertha” may be anticipated through this early photograph taken during the star’s infancy. Referred to by Mr. P. T. Barnum himself as that “elusive, effervescent, enigmatic mountain of feminine flesh,” she is best known today as “Houdini’s Downfall.”


  1. Little Bertha was actually concerned with the antics being performed just off camera by her beloved mother who was trying to get her to smile. "Am I really related to her?" Bertha thought with alarm. "Perhaps I'm adopted. Please, please, let me be adopted." Bertha's mother, a frustrated hair-stylist (as seen by Little B.'s interesting "do"), was determined to get her bundle of joy to grant them at least one grin. Alas, it was not to be. Within seconds of this shot, Bertha spit up, her mother sprained an ankle, and the photographer took early retirement.

  2. Matilda Pringle was a diva from the womb. Shown here as an infant, she exuded a rubenesque beauty that would be a hallmark of her Operatic career. Able to reach pitches that shattered glass from birth (she ruined the physician’s spectacles with her first wail), Matilda’s mother quickly realized her daughter’s potential. In an effort to preserve the glass in their home and with a secret wish to ride her daughter’s coat-tails to fame, Matilda’s mother, Esme, moved her daughter to New York and wheedled her a spot with the Academy of Music. On a European tour, Matilda’s voluptuous form and soaring soprano caught the fancy of W. Richard Wagner. The two wooed secretly via post, a fact only revealed recently upon the donation of her estate to the Academy Archives by her great-great granddaughter. Wagner pined for Matilda and based his Der Ring des Nibelungen valkyrie Brunhilda on her.