Daisy and Violet Hilton

Daisy and Violet Hilton

Brighton, Brighton and Hove Unitary Authority, East Sussex, England
Death 4 Jan 1969 (aged 60)
Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, USA
Burial Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, USA
Plot Section M, Lot 313
Memorial ID 8499 · View Source
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Entertainers. Born in Brighton, England to Kate Skinner, an unwed serving girl, Daisy and Violet were conjoined, pygopagus twins joined at the hips and fused at the pelvis. They shared blood circulation but no major organs. Their mother rejected them and they were unofficially adopted by the midwife, Mary Hilton. The girls were put on display almost immediately at the Hilton's pub. By the age of three, Hilton and her daughter took the twins on a tour of exhibition throughout the UK billing them as ‘The Brighton United Twins.' Added to the bookings of a theatrical agent, the tour expanded to Germany and then Australia. In Australia, they flopped but acquired Myer Myers who became Hilton's son-in-law and partner. At his urging, they traveled to the United States where the twins became the undisputed stars of the midway. Hilton and Myers kept them strictly isolated reasoning that no one would pay to see them if they could be seen for free in the street. When not performing they were schooled in singing, dancing, piano, violin, and clarinet as well as lessons. When Mary Hilton died, Myers took over management, and maintained complete control of their earnings. In 1931, the twins filed suit against Myers winning not only their independence, but $100,000 in damages, a fraction of their earnings since arriving in the United States. They immediately left the sideshow circuit for Vaudeville. The diminutive twins finally cut the school girl curls they had worn all their lives and dressed in different outfits for the first time. Their headlining song and dance routine brought in about $4,000 a week. They appeared on the same bill as such luminaries as Jack Benny and Burns and Allen, while Bob Hope once had a role as their dancing partner. In 1932, they appeared in the Hollywood film, ‘Freaks.' The twins had less the ten minutes screen time and hated the final product. When a fellow Vaudevillian, Maurice Lambert, proposed the following year, he and Violet made a series of applications for a marriage license in 21 different states, each state rejected their application on morality grounds, and each rejection was well publicized. Eventually Lambert fled the spotlight and Violet. In 1936 Violet agreed to a publicity stunt arranged by her agent, and married dancer Jim Moore at the Texas Centennial Exposition. When annulment proceedings were initiated almost immediately, the public felt gulled and turned on the twins. Daisy married dancer Buddy Sawyer in 1941, but under the glare of publicity, the marriage lasted less than a month. The twins' star continued to fade; by post WWII their earning power was quartered. They were persuaded to sink all of their savings into a movie project in 1950, the resultant film, ‘Chained for Life' was another flop. Broke, the sisters attempted to stir up interest by touring in support of the film, appearing at drive-in theatres where the movie was booked. In 1961, their last public appearance at a North Carolina drive-in ended when their road manager abandoned them stealing all of their receipts. Taken in by the town, the twins were allowed to live in a trailer home and were given work in the local super market as produce clerks. They settled into a life of solitude, seldom appearing outside their home except to go to work. In January 1969, Daisy fell ill with the Hong Kong Flu, her condition progressively worsened. Daisy apparently succumbed to the illness sometime between late New Year's Eve and January 2. Violet apparently passed away some two to four days later. The twins were finally found, collapsed on the floor of their rented cottage, by investigating police on January 4. A simple funeral was arranged and the twins were buried in a single large coffin in a donated plot. Their estimated net worth at the time of their deaths was $1600.

Bio by: Iola

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 17 Feb 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 8499
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Daisy and Violet Hilton (5 Feb 1908–4 Jan 1969), Find a Grave Memorial no. 8499, citing Forest Lawn West Cemetery, Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .