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Hilton twins

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Hilton twins as children

The Hilton twins were a pair of conjoined twins who toured in the US sideshow and vaudeville circuit in the 1930's.

Daisy and Violet Hilton were born in Brighton, England on February 5 1908. Their mother was a single barmaid named Kate Skinner. The sisters were born conjoined in hips and buttocks; they shared blood circulation and were fused at the pelvis but shared no major organs. Skinner's boss Mary Hilton, who helped in childbirth, apparently saw commercial prospects in them, effectively bought them from their mother and took them under her care.

According to the sisters' own autobiography, Mary Hilton, her husband and daughter kept the twins in strict control with physical abuse; they had to call her "Auntie Lou" and her current husband "Sir". They trained them in singing and dancing.

The Hilton sisters toured first in England at the age of three as "the United Twins". Mary Hilton dragged them to a tour through Germany, Australia and to the USA. In the true sideshow manner, their performance was accompanied with a dubious "history". Their controllers kept all the money the sisters earned.

When Mary died in Birmingham, Alabama, her daughter and her husband took over. They kept the twins from public view for a while and trained them in jazz music. They lived in a mansion in San Antonio, Texas until the early 1930s.

In 1931 the sisters gathered enough courage to sue their "managers", gaining $100.000 in damages - and independence. They left the sideshows and went into vaudeville as "The Hilton Sisters' Revue". Daisy dyed her hair blonde and they began to wear different outfits so they could be told apart. As if to compensate for their deprived past, they had numerous affairs, failed attempts to get a marriage license and couple of short marriages. In 1932 the twins appeared as themselves in the movie Freaks.

Eventually the sisters settled in Miami and kept a hamburger stand called the Hilton Sisters' Snack Bar. In the 1950 they tried Hollywood again and starred in a movie Chained for Life.

The Hiltons' last public appearance was at a drive-in movie theater in Charlotte, North Carolina. Their tour manager failed to pick them up and they had to take a job at a grocery store.

On January 6 1969 the twins were found dead in their home due to the Hong Kong Flu.

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