Patricia Nellie “Patsy” <I>Kennedy</I> Zerm

Patricia Nellie “Patsy” Kennedy Zerm

Birth
USA
Death 8 Jan 1986 (aged 75)
Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida, USA
Burial Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida, USA
Memorial ID 145931404 · View Source
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According to the Sword Swallowers Association International Hall of Fame:

Patricia "Patsy" Nellie Kennedy was born on September 1, 1910, and early in her life she called Lexington, KY her home. In 1939, she performed under the name "Patsy Smith" with the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey sideshow at the age of 29 and was known as Mrs. Speedy Smith in 1943. From 1942-1944, Patricia performed as the sword swallower with Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey sideshow under the name "Patricia Katts" or "Miss Patricia", although she was later often billed as "The Neon Tube Swallower" or "The Neon Tube Artist". According to the Aug 21, 1943 Billboard: "Ringling Side Show Notes: Patricia (Mrs. Speedy Smith), sword swallower, has been on the sick list, but is expected back shortly." According to the Sept 18, 1943 Billboard: "Ringling Side Show Notes: Patricia (Mrs. Speedy Smith), sword swallower, terminated her engagement in Detroit due to an illness and left for home in Lexington, Kentucky." (C. D. Speedy Smith of Lexington KY was ticket taker with the Ringling show from 1941 to 1947). Miss Patricia worked as the sword swallower with the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey sideshow in 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945. The 1944 Ringling Brothers route book listed "Miss Patricia" under the billing of "Neon Tube Artist" since they also featured Lady Louise Long as their main sword swallower in 1944.

On November 30, 1945, in Sarasota Florida, 35-year-old "Miss Patricia" married 60-year-old Ringling ticket seller and assistant manager Charles A. Zerm, who in 1918 was the manager of the for the Worthan & Rice Show 10-in-1 sideshow. After getting married, there was an effort to change her stage name from "Miss Patricia" to bill her as "Lady Patricia", although the stage name of "Miss Patricia" was often used interchangeably as well and stuck with her throughout her entire career. To her friends she was simply known as "Patsy". In 1946 Charlie and Patsy Zerm ran the sideshow on the Reynolds and Wells "World of Today Shows" with Harry Leonard. When their route closed in September 1946, Harry Leonard joined Dailey Bros Circus where they met Ward Hall. In 1947 Charlie and Patsy Zerm were with the Mickey Mansion-Stanley Baebet Sideshow and left about halfway through the season. "Miss Patricia" went back to work with Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey in 1948, 1950, and 1951, when she was photographed in front of her banner holding a neon tube. According to the Sep 25, 1948 Billboard: "Miss Patricia, sword swallower, her husband, and Rasmus Nielsen, tattooed man and weight lifter, all of the Ringling show, were recent guests at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Owen Jensen in Los Angeles. Mrs. Jensen, (Dainty Dotty) was a fat lady with the Big Show." In 1949, Patricia and Charlie Zerm worked for Peter Kortes Circus Side Show. According to the Apr 15, 1950 Billboard, the personnel on the 1950 Ringling Brothers Kid Show includes Emmett and Priscilla Bejano, monkey girl and alligator skin man, Patricia Zern, sword swallower, Charles Zern, as lecturer and ticket seller. In 1951, Patricia was featured as the sword swallower with Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus in Cecil B. DeMille's film "The Greatest Show on Earth" which was filmed on location with Ringling Brothers and released in 1952. In February 1955, Patricia worked the Tampa Fair for Bobby Hasson on the Royal American show. In the next few years the Zerms had an office-owned show on Lloyd Serfass "Penn Premier Shows".

On January 2, 1968, Charlie A. Zerm died at the age of 85 (1883-1968). Lady Patricia then worked with Ward Hall's World of Wonders Show from 1969 to 1975, where she also swallowed neon tubes. According to Ward Hall, "Miss Patricia was known for always wearing beautiful gowns. Patsy was a great cook and she always cooked for Chris and me and Emmett Blackwelder, The 'Turtle Man' ". Ward Hall says in his book "My Very Unusual Friends" that Patricia said she was going to retire on her 65th birthday on September 1, 1976, and on that day, she stuck to her promise and retired. Lady Patricia owned a home in Gibsonton, as did her sister whose late husband had been a carnival electrician. After she retired, Patricia and her sister both sold their homes and moved from Gibsonton to Tampa, FL "never venturing near a show again". They moved into an apt at the Baptist retirement home in central Tampa (Tampa Baptist Manor?), where they lived out the rest of their lives. They had both become devout Baptists and didn't associate with their old friends. Lady Patricia Zerm died in Tampa, Florida on January 8, 1986 at the age of 75. Charles A. Zerm and Patricia N. Zerm are buried in Garden of Memories Cemetery in Tampa, Florida.
Patricia Zerm Timeline:
1910: Born September 1, 1910
1939: Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey
1940: Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey ?
1941: Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey ?
1942: Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey
1943: Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey
1944: Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey
1945: Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey
1945: Nov 30: Married Charles A. Zerm
1946: Reynolds and Wells World of Today
1946: September: Dailey Bros Circus
1947: Mansion-Baebet Sideshow
1948: Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey
1949: Peter Kortes Circus Side Show
1950: Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey
1951: Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey
1951: Greatest Show on Earth movie airs
1952: ?
1953: ?
1954: Penn Premier Shows
1955: Royal American Shows
1956: Penn Premier Shows
1957: Penn Premier Shows
1959: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1960: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1961: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1962: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1963: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1964: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1965: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1966: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1967: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1968: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1968: Charlie Zerm dies
1969: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1970: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1971: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1972: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1973: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1974: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1975: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1976: Ward Hall World of Wonders
1976: Retired Sept, 1, 1976
1986: Died January 8, 1986

More information and photos:
http://www.swordswallow.com/halloffame.php#LadyPatricia


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  • Created by: Dan Meyer
  • Added: 2 May 2015
  • Find A Grave Memorial 145931404
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Patricia Nellie “Patsy” Kennedy Zerm (1 Sep 1910–8 Jan 1986), Find A Grave Memorial no. 145931404, citing Garden of Memories Cemetery, Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida, USA ; Maintained by Dan Meyer (contributor 48704508) .