The Hilton twins were the stars of the vaudeville era but their lives were marred by servitude and poverty. Daisy and Violet were brought into the world in 1908 in Brighton, England.
The girls were born joined back to back and shared blood circulation. They hadn’t been separated because doctors believed that surgery would lead to their death.
Their mother was Kate Skinner. a 21-year-old unmarried barmaid(a waitress who serves drinks in a bar).She thought that her daughters were a punishment for her sins and abandoned them.
The twins were immediately adopted by midwife Mary Hilton but not for a good cause. She figured she could profit from the monsters as children with anomalies were called at the time. She flaunted the twins in the pub she owned and sold postcards with their picture. Any caller could have a look at the babies at any time and even touch them.
The Hilton Sisters said that “our earliest and only recollections are the penetrating smell of brown ale, cigars and pipes and the movement of the visitor's glands which were forever lifting our baby clothes to see just how we were attached to each other “.
From the age of 3, the sisters were exhibited at sideshows and fairs. Mary made them sing and play musical instruments if they cried or misbehaved, she would slap them with her belt buckle.
Daisy and Violet toured around England, Germany, and Australia but with little success. In 1915, their stepmother decided to try her fortune, and the family moved to the USA.
When Mary died 4 years later, her son in law Myer Meyers(a former balloon salesman), became their new manager. He and his wife controlled the siblings every step and even slept in the same room with them. They convinced the girls that they were worthless and threatened to send them to an asylum.
In the 1920s, The Hilton sisters performed in vaudeville acts and hit the big time and In 1926, they were the headliners of Bob Hope’s tour. They played clarinet and saxophones duets and danced. At their peak of popularity, they earned around $5000 a week, but they never saw a penny.
Daisy Hilton said, "we were lonely rich girls who were really paupers living in practical slavery".
In 1931, upon the advice of their friend, Harry Houdini the famous illusionist, they found a lawyer and sued the Myers, whom they called their “owners” and won $100000 in damages.
After gaining their freedom, the twins discovered the world of parties and romance, They also dyed their hair and started wearing different clothes to demonstrate their personalities.
They had their own show, “The Hilton sisters Revue” for a while but soon the rapid development of sound films led to vaudeville’s decline.
In 1932, they starred in “Freaks” the film outraged the audience but it faded out along with the ending of the decade. The twin's fame gradually faded as they grew older.
They struggled to get married because of their conjoined bodies, wedlock was considered immoral. In 1936 Violet married gay actor James Moore as a publicity stunt, and although the marriage lasted ten years on paper, it was eventually annulled. In 1941 sister Daisy married Harold Estep, better known as dancer Buddy Sawyer, who was also gay. The marriage lasted ten days.
In 1951, they appeared in “Chained for life”, a failed movie loosely based on their lives and then they ended up working as cashiers at a grocery store in Charlotte, North Carolina.
They lived in a house granted by the church and performed for their coworkers in their spare time. It seems in those days they finally enjoyed their normal and peaceful lives.
In 1968, the authorities appeared them at their home. According to doctors, the twins had died of the flu. Unfortunately, Daisy died first, with Violet dying several days later. It’s thought that Violet was too ill to call for help. They were just 60 years old.