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Koo-Koo of Ringling

"Koo-Koo of Ringling" is copyright    2000 by James G. Mundie. All rights reserved.  Reproduction prohibited.

Pen and Ink, 9 x 6.5 inches, 2000

What can be said about Koo-Koo the Bird Girl other than that she was an odd little thing?

Koo-Koo's real name was Minnie Woolsey, and for a short time she performed in a semblance of a Native American costume under the name “Mini Ha Ha”. At another time, she was “The Blind Girl From Mars”, but the Bird Girl was her most enduring identity. Koo-Koo wasn't what one would consider a ‘freak’ in the conventional sense, but rather just a very peculiar looking individual who didn't seem to mind capitalizing on the fact.

Dwarfish in stature, Koo-Koo's stage performance consisted of wearing a furry body suit and doing a sort of peculiar dance. She had a head shaped very nearly like that of a baby bird, a resemblance that was enhanced by the magnifying effect of her rather thick spectacles.

Koo-Koo was among the sideshow performers featured in Tod Browning's infamous Freaks (1932). In the film, she performs her feathered shimmy atop the banquet table at the wedding feast.

Here I have based my portrait of Koo-Koo somewhat on Hans Holbein's portrait of Anne of Cleves.

A photograph of a sideshow front featuring Koo-Koo may be seen here.


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All Images and Text James G. Mundie 2003 - 2010