Hilton Sisters, Conjoined Twins

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Hilton Sisters, Conjoined Twins

Violet and Daisy Hilton

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The Hilton Sisters were among the only sideshow stars to break out of the circus tent and make it to mainstream Hollywood. Indeed, the conjoined twins Daisy and Violet were among the highest earners on the vaudeville circuit at the height of their career in the 1930s, bringing in as much as $5,000 per week [source: Thomson]. In 1932, they joined Tod Browning's cast of social misfits in "Freaks," and in 1950, the Hilton sisters starred in the B-movie "Chained for Life" about their "loves and lives" as conjoined twins.

Perhaps it isn't astounding that the Hiltons achieved brief stardom, since they were brought up to become entertainers. Raised by the midwife who delivered them, Daisy and Violet were taught singing, dancing and musical instruments, and by age 3, they performed at circuses, carnivals and fairs [source: Hartzman]. Their adoptive mother, whom they called "Auntie," kept all of their earning to herself, however, and it wasn't until they were 23 years old that the twins pursued legal action to hold on to their income. They enjoyed minor fame, but also weathered strained romantic relationships, which were all ultimately thwarted by their conjoined condition. In fact, both Daisy and Violet were married briefly; Violet got hitched as a publicity stunt in 1936, and Daisy's new husband walked out after only 10 days in 1941 [source: Thomson].

Once their star faded out completely in the 1960s, the Hiltons worked at a grocery store in Charlotte, N.C. One twin worked the register while the other would bag groceries [source: Hornberger]. A few years later, Daisy and Violet died in 1969.

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