Junius Brutus Booth was a mad theatrical genius and victim of severe mood swings. After one engrossing performance he had a chance meeting with a professional sideshow performer in the cramped backstage area. The result is documented as follows:
The real name of the “fat girl” who crossed paths with Booth was Hannah Crouse. From the age of 6, Hannah’s immense weight was commented on in newspapers and she soon found herself making a living as a traveling human oddity. Here is a newspaper advertisement from a time she was exhibiting herself in Washingon, D.C.
As Hannah grew older, her weight did as well. A 1854 advertisement for the then 20 year-old girl, highlighted that she was:
“The youngest of all the Large Women, very intelligent and active, and weighing more than any other woman ever known – but she really does not weigh more than 900 pounds. We challenge the world to produce her equal.”
As time went on, Hannah Crouse was sometimes confused with another famous “Large Woman” of the era, Hannah Perkins. Ms. Perkins achieved even greater fame by touring with P. T. Barnum. She ended up marrying another performer named John Battersby who exhibited himself as the “Living Skeleton”.
While Hannah Crouse survived her backstage encounter with the confused and frenzied Junius Brutus Booth, undoubtedly her immense weight contributed to her early demise. Hannah Crouse died in August of 1856 at the age of 21 or 22.