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Daisy and Violet Hilton were, at one point, the world’s most famous twins.
They faced many challenges and problems in their lives, and luckily they were able to overcome each one!
However, their lives were cut short in the most tragic manner.
This is the heartbreaking story of Daisy and Violet Hilton.
They Were Expected To Live Less Than A Month
Daisy and Violet Hilton were both born in February of 1908, in Brighton, England. They were pygopagus twins, but they were also connected at the hips and buttocks.
When they were born the doctor thought they twins would be dead within the month, but they caertainly proved him wrong!
Mother Rejected The “Monsters”
Daisy and Violet’s mother, Kate Skinner, was an unmarried woman when she gave birth to her twins.
Back in the early 1900s, children who were visibly different were considered monsters and undesirable.
The twin’s mother believed their condition was punishment for her being an unwed mother, so she sold them to a woman named Mary Hilton.
Throughout their lives, the Hilton twins would refer to Mary Hilton as ‘Auntie’. But it wasn’t long until Mary realized she could make some extra money of the twin’s difference.
They Were Put On Display So People Could Examine Them
When people saw monsters, Mary saw an opportunity.
It wasn’t long until Mary put the twins on display in the rear room of a British pub.
For a few pennies, people could see and even examine the girls to see where they were connected.
The girls wrote in their memoirs:
“Our earliest and only recollections are the penetrating smell of brown ale, cigars and pipes and the movements of the visitors’ hands which were forever lifting our baby clothes to see just how we were attached to each other.”
‘Auntie’ Abused Them
Auntie had several men in her life, whom the girls were made to address as “Sir.”
Throughout their early life, Daisy and Violet were physically and emotionally abused by Auntie and the various partners.
Auntie made the girls very much aware that they were not normal children, and they had to perform for her.
If the girls didn’t do as they were asked, they were beaten.
Daisy and Violet wrote in their 1950s memoir
“When we displeased her, she whipped our backs and shoulders with the buckle end of that belt.”
They Earned Thousands But They Never Saw A Cent Of It
The twins really started making an impact in their teenage years, in the 1920s.
The pair appeared alongside other iconic vaudeville icons such as Charlie Chaplin and Bob Hope.
At one point in their careers, they were earning up to $5,000 a week. But the girl’s owners took all their money and never let the girls near the finances.
Harry Houdini Change Their Lives
The famous illusionist, Harry Houdini, took an active interest in the girls and even advised them to learn more about their situation.
When the girls checked the newspapers and other forms of media, they were shocked to discover they were famous!
At the age of 21, the twins got in touch with a lawyer and took their ‘owners’ to court.
Daisy and Violet were awarded emancipation in 1931 and given roughly $80,000.
They Got Married
Their emancipation opened a whole new world of opportunities. Especially when it came to romance.
But the big problem was the science of sex. The twins knew nothing about it at first.
But eventually, they learned that if one sister took a lover to bed, the other sister was right by her side.
Violet is quoted saying, “Why, I just turn over and read a book and eat an apple.”
Eventually, each of the sisters was married at one point, but both at different times. But a lot of states denied giving a marriage license because the marriage would be considered immoral and indecent.
When they did get married, it didn’t last long.
The twins appeared in Tod Browning’s 1932 film Freaks, and in 1942, they published their autobiography, The Lives and Loves of the Hilton Sisters.
In the book, Daisy described their circumstances:
“We [were] lonely, rich girls who were really paupers living in practical slavery.”
She later added:
“I’m not a machine; I’m a woman. I should have the right to live like one.”
They Struggled To Make A Living
Later in life, the twins struggled to survive.
They appeared in a film about their lives in 1951, Chained for Life, and they eventually opened a hot dog stand.
But other vendors were upset that “freaks” were taking business away from them.
By 1961, they were destitute. They wound up working as cashiers at a grocery store.
The store owner even redesigned one of the counters so the twins could work together.
Daisy Died Before Her Sister
The twins defied medical odds and lived a long life.
But when they didn’t show up to work in 1969, the authorities appeared 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.
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