Tragic Story Of A Conjoined Twin Who Was Forced To Lie Next To Dead Sister

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The Hilton Sisters: A conjoined twin who was made to lie next to her dead sister for days on end was half of one of the most well-known vaudeville shows of her era.

The Hilton Sisters, raised by a barman in Brighton, rose to fame as international superstars in the 1920s and had a life of luxury, appearing at posh parties and performing on stages across the globe.

Despite being attached at the hip, Violet and Daisy Hilton led separate lives and pursued several personal relationships throughout their peak as performers. But disaster would strike years later when Daisy died, leaving behind a horrifying scene that the authorities only found out about a few days later.

Born in Brighton in 1908, Violet and Daisy were given to Mary Hilton, a midwife, at the age of three weeks. Since they were young children, Mary took them on tours of the city’s pubs, charging patrons two cents to see them.

When Mary passed away, they were fifteen years old, and her will gave them to her daughter Edith and her new husband, Meyer Meyers. After travelling to Germany, Australia, and finally the US, the couple settled in the US.

In 1925, Myers launched them as a Broadway act, and they performed in four performances a day due to a demanding work schedule designed to earn him money. Legendary performer Bob Hope was brought in to dance with the girls on stage, teaching them the foxtrot and Charleston. They also became friends with Hollywood escapologist Harry Houdini.

They were released from Myers at the age of twenty-three following a protracted court battle, and they quickly obtained US citizenship and entered the vibrant New York nightlife of the 1920s. When asked how she handled the situation when Daisy had a partner, Violet replied, “I just turn over and read a book and eat an apple.” Despite everything, they never appear to forget each other, and Daisy is rumoured to have declined her first marriage proposal because “it wouldn’t be fair on Violet.” In addition to 20 other states, Maurice and Violet were denied a marriage licence in New York.

Due to financial difficulties, they became strippers during World War II before appearing in the critically acclaimed 1952 movie Chained For Life, in which Violet’s character was on trial for the murder of Daisy’s character’s husband. Following that, they resumed travelling as musicians. However, the twins’ final performance served as a sad reminder of their declining circumstances when their promoter abandoned them, leaving them without money or a way to return home.

The pair’s colourful life tragically ended on January 6, 1969, when authorities discovered them dead at the age of 60, following the US Hong Kong flu pandemic. Violet kept her sister’s corpse tacked to her for as long as she could, according to testimony given at an inquiry.

Subsequent generations of storytellers have drawn inspiration from the incredible life of the Violet Sisters, who achieved great success on Broadway and faced immense hardship and exploitation during their journey. In addition to a plethora of written histories, several streaming platforms offer the 2012 documentary Bound by Flesh, and there was a 1999 Broadway musical called Side Show nominated for four Tony Awards.

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