The Sad Stories Of The Ringling Brothers’ “Freak Show” Acts

Culture |

Annie Jones (“The Bearded Lady”)

Bearded women have been a sideshow staple since the beginning of the circus, often billed at the top of any list of circus “freaks.” And Annie Jones, the “Bearded Lady” of P.T. Barnum’s “Greatest Show on Earth,” was one of the most successful bearded ladies of all time. Yet that didn’t stop her life from being marked by tragedy. Although Jones owed all of her fame and fortune to being billed as a Barnum “freak,” it was at this point in her career that she campaigned against the use of the word to describe sideshow performers. However, she passed away of tuberculosis at age 37 on a visit to her mother, having “known no other life than that of a freak.”