BETTY BROADBENT – Tattooed Beauty

broadbent-tattooed lady

The beautiful Betty Broadbent was born in 1909 and during her childhood she was a rather innocent lass. She was rarely in trouble and was both trustworthy and kind. At the age of fourteen she was employed as a nanny in Atlantic City, New Jersey and took to wandering the boardwalk. It was there that she had a chance encounter with tattooist Jack Red Cloud and fell in love with the art form that would forevermore shape her life and future.

By 1927 Betty was well on her way to completing a tattoo body suit. Over 350 designs adorned her pinup model-like body, designs created and applied by notorious and revolutionary tattooists like Charlie Wagner, Joe Van Hart, Tony Rhineager and Red Gibbons.BETTY BROADBENT – Tattooed Beauty

Tattoos were not in vogue amongst women of the era. In fact, tattoos in generally were fairly rare outside of sailors and riffraff. It was even more unusual to find tattoos in such a high concentration on a single human being, never mind on a voluptuous and desirable female body fit for fantasy. While her body was nearly covered with ink, Betty’s beautiful face was completely untouched, as a result of this contrast Betty quickly drew a great deal of attention and opted to embark on a career of exhibition.

Betty’s first job was with Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus and almost instantly Betty fell in love with show business. Many women quickly grew tired of the rigorous carnival lifestyle. But Betty thrived in exhibition and she spent the next 40 years in and around the show business and circus scene. In fact, Betty flaunted her tattoos in every significant American, Australian and New Zealand circus the era had to offer. Betty was even a featured attraction at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

Betty retired from exhibition in 1967 and disappeared from the public eye for quite some time. She was rediscovered by tattoo enthusiast and historian Lyle Tuttle and it was revealed that she had retired to Florida where she became a tattoo artist herself. She spoke quite fondly of her role in tattoo history and her life as a living exhibit.

Betty Broadbent became the first person inducted into the Tattoo Hall of Fame in 1981.

She died in her sleep in 1983.



  • Reply June 23, 2008


    I just want to let you know how much I really enjoy your site. I love learning about these awesome and interesting people. I check everyday and it is a very good day when there is a new post!

  • Reply June 23, 2008

    J. Tithonus Pednaud

    Thank you for your comments Paula.

    I try to update the site at least bi-weekly, but do check back often as I often post when the mood strikes.

  • Reply June 24, 2008

    The Whisperer

    Great site.. I really enjoy reading about cases like this many you have here.

    I wanted to make a sugestion. Maybe you could improve your post listing, so the person who reads your site finds it easy to know the posts you have posted earlier, a more “easy to find” menu..

    Keep up your good work.

  • Reply June 24, 2008


    Do you suppose that Betty Broadbent was the inspiration for Groucho Marx’s “Lydia the Tatooed Lady”? Is there a catalog of what images were on her? Granted, I doubt that she “sat on Hitler”…

  • Reply December 19, 2008


    I love this website. Especially the traditional style of the writting, it’s like an old film or something! Keep it up!

  • Reply January 3, 2009


    i want to honor her with a small -or- large portion of body art is there any closer pics of her tattoos that can be transferred?

  • Reply January 7, 2009

    J Tithonus Pednaud


    I’m afraid I don’t have any close up images of her specific tattoos. Perhaps it would be best to simply create a homage?

  • Reply May 1, 2009


    Great site, Good info

  • Reply May 6, 2009


    I just wanted to say that Betty Broadbent was Amazing and Beautiful! she was a very strong woman, and I admire her soo much!

    Love Your Page…

  • […] BettyBroadbent – Tattooed Beauty […]

  • […] Betty Broadbent, exhibited at the Worlds fair of 1939 and inducted into Tattoo Hall of Fame 1981 […]

  • awesome site

  • Reply May 2, 2011


    that was very inspiring!! i didnt even know that! im hoping to be a covered tattoo girl myself:) maybe one day i will:) congrates Betty! SALUTE! :)

  • Reply July 26, 2011

    Jonette Moore

    Betty Broadbent was my neighbor when I was about 5 years of age. It is good to see she did so well, I lost track with her…..Thanks

  • […] houve na história mulheres que transgrediram essa regra. Foi o caso de Betty Broadbent, uma pioneira no mundo das tatuagens femininas, que tinha mais de 350 desenhos tatuados em seu […]

  • Reply September 26, 2011

    Sky Sukinaka

    A piece of living art; became the artist herself. Beautiful don’t you think?

  • Reply December 18, 2011


    She is absolutely stunning!

  • […] to finish. Which is ok. Because I have the rest of my life to work on being a tattooed lady like Betty Broadbent by the time I […]

  • Reply December 20, 2011


    Great website. A lot of these stories are incredibly touching.

    Unrelated, but nice to “meet” a fellow Torontonian!

  • Reply March 20, 2012

    Courtney Lastiyano

    I find it to be so amazing. I think she’s so beautiful and sooo motivational!!

  • Reply November 15, 2013


    Hi to every one, the contents present at this
    site are truly awesome for people knowledge, well, keep up the good
    work fellows.

  • […] of ‘unknown woman from the beginning of the 20th cent.’ is actually a picture of Betty Broadbent who was born in the first decade of the 20th century and started her career […]

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