At the 1934 World’s Fair, Robert Ripley – of the famed Ripley’s ‘Believe It Or Not’ empire – unveiled to the public his very first Odditorium. Previously, Ripley was known for his “Believe It Or Not” comic strip in newspapers. However, his World’s Fair Odditorium featured real anatomical curiosities and the most spectacular of his presentations was an infant girl named Betty Lou Williams.
Betty Lou Williams was born Lillie B Williams in Albany, Georgia on January 10, 1932. She was the daughter of a poor farming family and the youngest of twelve children. She was also born attached at the side to a parasitic sibling that consisted of two legs, one tiny arm-like appendage and a more developed arm with three fingers. Despite the fact that the head of her twin was embedded deep within her abdomen, Betty Lou was a very healthy girl and doctors proclaimed that there was no reason she could not live a long and healthy life.
She was originally discovered at the age of one by a professional showman named Dick Best. Best changed the name of the little girl to Betty Lou – perhaps in an attempt to promote the parasite as a male, a lie that was popular in parasitic twin displays – and he began to display the infant in his New York Museum. It was there that she drew the attention of Ripley.
Working for Ripley, at the age of two, Betty Lou made an astounding $250 a week. As she grew into adulthood, she made over $1000 a week. With her earnings she purchased a 260 acre ranch for her parents and sent all eleven of her siblings to college.
The jump in Betty Lou’s earnings was due in part to the fact that, as she matured, she developed into quite an attractive woman. Her beauty and generosity drew many male suitors and, at the age of twenty-three, she became engaged to one of her admirers. However the husband-to-be was little more than a heartbreaking thief. He left Betty Lou taking a great deal of money with him and, distraught over the breakup, Betty suffered a severe asthma attack at her home in Trenton, New Jersey.
Betty Lou suffocated to death at the age of twenty-three.