Saturday, November 8, 2014

An Uncommon Thrill - When The Hilton Sisters Came To Albany

Violet and Daisy Hilton

 In 1934, Daisy and Violet Hilton brought their vaudeville act to Albany.

Audiences at the Capitol Theater in Albany are getting an uncommon thrill these days, "The Hilton Sisters," American Siamese Twins," born at San Antonio, Texas, are appearing on the stage with their "Double Rhythm Revue" and are also meeting with the audience personally in the foyer to chat with patrons and present their autographs.

The Hilton Sisters, who are making an unfortunate accident of birth pay them back what it can by their stage appearances are also good entertainers.  They sing, play musical instruments and dance with male partners.

The June 4 edition of the Schenectady Gazette didn't get it quite right.  Daisy and Violet Hilton were not born in San Antonio, but in Brighton, England on February 5, 1908.  The illegitimate daughters of an unwed barmaid, the infant girls were fused together at the pelvis and, while they did not share any major organs, they did share a circulatory system and it was thought at the time that surgical separation could cause one or both girls to bleed to death.  Immediately after their birth, the twins were taken by their mother's boss, Mary Hilton.  Mary Hilton and her husband (always referred to as "Sir") raised the girls with plans to exploit their connection for profit.  They oversaw the girls' early training as singers and dancers, but kept them under control with threats and abuse.  The girls began their show business careers at the age of three when Mary Hilton and Sir took them on tour through Germany, Australia, and the United States.  Mrs. Hilton died in Birmingham and left control of Daisy and Violet to Mary Myers.  Mrs Myers took them to San Antonio and continued the girls' musical training.  The abusive control of every aspect of the twins' lives also continued until 1931 when the twenty-one year old sisters sued their "managers."  They succeeded in their suit, gaining their freedom from Mary Myers and her husband along with $100,000 in compensation.

 Advertisements like this appeared in the Albany, Troy, and Schenectady newspapers.

The Hilton Sisters took charge of their own careers, touring the country with a vaudeville act.  In 1934, their "Double Rhythm Revue" came to Albany.