Totally Bent: Lady Contortionists of the ’40s

by Mary Grace Garis

As far as I can tell, spontaneous musical numbers in the 1940’s were as common as explosions in a Michael Bay movie (though I’m judging solely from the trailers–I have too much self-respect to watch those). The following clip from the movie Broadway Rhythm, however, has a twist: three gorgeous contortionist sisters who turn themselves into human pretzels. Think I’m kidding?

Damn, girl. The ladies in question are the Ross Sisters: Aggie, Elmira, and Maggie (real names Veda Victoria, Dixie Jewel, and Betsy Ann.)  They were a singing and dancing trio who applied acrobatics to their skits…and had bones made of jelly, probably. After Broadway Rhythm, they performed at a London stage revue called Piccadilly Hayride, but apparently this skit is their claim to fame.

Oh my God. See, I’m super jealous of this. I was once asked if I was…ahem…flexible, and I responded with a nervous, “Uh, I guess?” before having my legs painfully thrown over some dude’s shoulders. What I WISH I could’ve done is tossed my legs over my own shoulders, and hand-walked my way out of there. But…the 1940’s were a simpler time.

Go watch the entire fabulous routine below:

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