CONGRESS OF THE ODD
MADEMOISELLE GABRIELLE – The Half-Woman
Mademoiselle Gabrielle was a legless marvel from the early 1900’s. She was born in Basel, Switzerland in 1884 and began her freak show and exhibition career at the Paris Universal Exposition in 1900 as The Half-Woman.
Her first foray into show business proved quite successful as she soon traveled to America to work with the Dreamland Circus Side Show, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. Furthermore, in 1912, Mademoiselle Gabrielle embarked on a short-lived vaudevillian career with New York’s Hammerstein Theater. She eventually broke her contract with the theater agent and was subsequently sued for breach. A four year court battle resulted in a $2000 fine paid to the theater agent. Few human marvels appeared on the vaudeville stage, the Hilton sisters did so several years later, but Mademoiselle Gabrielle was a special case. She was beautiful, charming, graceful and demure enough for the general public to accept her deformity objectively.
Mademoiselle Gabrielle possessed no legs and, according to a 1929 London Life article, she possessed no stumps whatsoever. Her torso finished just below the hip gracefully. Her figure was impressive and she accentuated her physical qualities and natural beauty with opulent Victorian garb and striking jewelry. Mademoiselle Gabrielle was independent and never complained of her condition. She firmly believed that she was ‘no less a woman’, despite being physically half of a woman.
Mademoiselle Gabrielle attracted men in droves and married at least three times during her lifetime. First she was married to a man with the surname of Hunter and lastly to a German gentleman. Due to these surname changes, her later history is difficult to trace and her eventual date of demise is currently unknown.
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J Tithonus Pednaud has dedicated this site to highlighting the remarkable lives of those born exceedingly different. These so-called freaks and human oddities stand as uplifting testaments to human spirit and serve as inspiring examples of human tenacity.