Performing Arts Photography Sideshow

Clarence Dale – “The Boy with the Big Head” – Sideshow act in early 1900’s.

Clarence Dale – The Boy with the Big Head

A featured performer for many years on the sideshow and vaudeville circuit in the early 1900’s.

At one time he was managed by Sigmund Neuberger on Wikipedia (The Great Lafayette) after having shared a bill together.


Lindsey Birdseye, aka Clarence Dale, was born in Texas around 1882, and was first exhibited in 1890 by a manager named Davis as a 6-year-old at The Fifth Avenue Museum in Pittsburgh. Examined by doctors, his case was supposedly not hydrocephaly, as: “the skull is healthy and hard as other skulls are. The boy is intelligent, has a most pleasant appearance, and converses on most any subject, and is a musician of skill, playing well on a number of instruments.” ( Pittsburgh Dispatch, October 5, 1890)………………..Clarence was also managed early in his career by soon-to-be world famous magician and illusionist “The Great Lafayette,” who met him as they both played dime museums. On April 12, 1891 Clarence’s life was saved by Lafayette along with the albino Zola Lorenzo, the Fat Woman Mme. Carver and her son the midget General Willis Carver when a huge fire broke out in Chicago’s Kohl & Middleton Museum………………….Sadly, the last we hear of Clarence is in October 1900 when he is taken from a “gypsy camp” in Waverly, NJ to Elizabeth Hospital in NY. We are told he is now 18 years old, and that he had lost the use his limbs when he was 16 and they were now ossified. Six months earlier he had lost his sight: “A succession of fits he had on Monday night scared his gypsy custodians, and they took him to the hospital. He has only one sister living in Burlington, Iowa. If he recovers he will be sent to his sister. His mother has deserted him.” It is unknown whether Clarence ever recovered

American Circus Circus Clown Comedy Dance Exhibit Juggling Magic Performing Arts Photography Sideshow Tent Show Variety Arts

SHOWHISTORY.COM – A Unique Image Archive

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This is the mast head for SHOWHISTORY.COM website. A very unique place for those interested in odd, unique and offbeat memorabilia.

Here is a comment by the website manager:

“Membership is $25 a year and allows you access to all of the materials, photos, letterheads, etc.– including multi-page items, such as the largest collection of sideshow pitchbooks ever gathered together– currently 65 scanned and online, and more than 60 more to be added.  Currently we have about 1200 images online and plan on adding about 2000 more items per year until the growing collection has been fully digitized.”
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“The origin of this undertaking emerged in casual conversation outside The Sarasota Showman’s Club one February evening sometime in 2001. The website first debuted on February 11, 2002.  The plan then, as now, was to engage in the enormous task of listing every novelty, variety, sideshow and freakshow performer who ever crossed the lot, creaked the boards of dime museum or bally, saw sun glint in the eyes of an audience in some small town, waiting for the sound of nickels and dimes clacking into a metal box.”
“Finally expanding to more than a thousand pages of material and hundreds of images, the site was unfortunately mainly inactive after 2006.”
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“In October 2014 the site was redesigned and relaunched in a slightly different form– as an online image archive available on a subscription basis.  While now you must pay to access the full contents of the site, including our expanding archive of online images (over 1000 at launch), we plan on preserving and re-introducing all of the earlier material, and presenting a large quantity of free-access material.”
Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 10.17.31 PM plans on eventually making available online for members all of the 11,000-plus item archive of photos, pitchcards, handbills and ephemera in the area of sideshow, novelty and variety, vaudeville, burlesque, dime museums, carnivals, and outdoor show business in general.  The earliest item in the collection dates from 1609, and the archive continues to expand to include items from present-day performers and exhibits.”
Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 10.17.21 PM wishes to chronicle the lost, fading and future scene on the fringes of the American amusement business– in biography, history, photographs, and whatever else we can find.  Collect the stories before they disappear, push and pull together the conflicting sources in books and memoribilia so that they can coexist in one place.”
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In the next post I have ready to go up I have ‘borrowed’ some text from to help illustrate the life of Clarence Dale.
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Hope you have the inclination to JOIN…it is certainly worth the fee and it helps support the work they are doing on the site.
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