40 Vintage Photographs and the Tragic Life of Conjoined Twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton

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Born in Brighton, England on 5 February 1908, the twins were unofficially adopted by their biological mother’s midwife, Mary Hilton, when the mother rejected the children. From the time that they were infants, they were exhibited at fairs and circuses by Hilton and her daughter.

When Daisy Hilton and Violet Hilton moved to the United States, they became famous for their vaudeville act and their burlesque performances during the 1920s and 1930s; they also appeared in a couple of films. The conjoined burlesque sisters struggled under the heavy hand of their guardians before reaching financial independence.

The Hiltons’ early vaudeville careers were a roaring success, netting them a profit of up to $5,000.00 a week, of which, they saw none. Their various managers and guardians ensured the twins were unable to profit from their own prosperity, and after considering the advice of Harry Houdini, who implored the girls to educate themselves on their public persona through newspapers and other media, the sisters pursued liberation through the justice system. Lawyer Martin Arnold helped to secure emancipation for Daisy and Violet in January of 1931, after which, the twins were awarded approximately $100,000.00 and approached life on their own for the first time.

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