MIGNON – The Penguin Lady

Mignon was born in the early 1900′s, likely around 1910, with a condition called phocomelia. Phocomelia typically results in the stunting of limbs and the fusion of digits. In Mignon’s case her fingers were fused in such a way as to resemble flippers. Furthermore, as her truncated limbs forced Mignon to waddle rather than walk – her stage name of ‘The Penguin Lady’ was both apt and easily assigned.

Her name, Mignon, was not her birth name. Most reports indicate that her given name was Ruth. Mignon is the French word for ‘cute’ and she likely adopted it early in her career. In fact, for quite some time she was know as ‘Mickey Mignon’ and even today her true surname is debatable.

While Mignon often wore a two piece bathing suit to show off her unique physique, she was not content to rely on appearance alone. She learned to play the rather exotic marimba, an African instrument similar to a xylophone. She proved to be very proficient as she was not only featured in numerous sideshows, her act was also featured at the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago and the 1939 and 1940 World’s Fairs in New York.

Mignon married twice in her lifetime. She had a healthy son with her first husband, a ‘normal’ man by the last name of LaArgo and in the 1950′s she married fellow sideshow performer Earl Davis, a gnarled and crippled former acrobat known as ‘Hoppy the Frog Boy’. The two performed together for close to a decade.

Following her retirement in the 1960 Mignon disappeared from public view and the final chapters of her story remain shrouded.

To learn more about Mignon and other Human Marvels purchase American Sideshow.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Author, researcher and an expert of the odd, J. Tithonus Pednaud has been chronicling bizarre history and highlighting the lives of those born exceeding different for over a decade.

6 Comments

  • Reply October 14, 2007

    Anonymous

    What is shown in the photo?

  • Reply May 11, 2008

    Kyo

    The penguin lady is shown, silly! Weren’t you paying attention?

    Anyways, other than the ‘misshapenness’ of her body, she’s really pretty.

    It’s strange, though, how people as incredible (appearance-wise, and otherwise) as her, are able to sneak into mystery like that.

  • Reply February 28, 2011

    Judith

    She looks very stately like someone that would welcome you easily into her home.

  • Reply August 4, 2011

    Bee

    I fine her rather pretty. I’m not the kind of person to judge on looks alone, but a persons face can tell you a lot. I see no lines or wrinkles on her face like she was in constant worry about herself. She also looks quite warm, and happy. I’d be happy to have had her as a friend.

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  • Reply April 22, 2013

    Annie

    I was wondering if you knew the height of her?

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