January 29, 2008

Who is Betty Broadbent?

Betty Broadbent was born in 1909, and worked as a mother's helper in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at the young age of fourteen. She spent her days on the beach and boardwalk, which was where she met Jack Redcloud, a tattooist. Later on, she was tattooed by Charlie Wagner, a tattooist from New York, who was one of the first to use the electric tattoo machine.

Betty had more than 350 tattoos all over her body, many which were of famous people of the time. A likeness of Queen Victoria was nestled in her decolletage. Her tattooed body landed her a job with the Ringling Brothers, as well as Barnum and Bailey Circus, which were two major shows of the era. Betty performed for over 40 years with every significant American circus, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. She was very popular, for a woman with tattoos was a very unusual spectacle. Another reason for her appeal was the contrast between her tattooed body, and the freshness of her face, which she kept tattoo-free.

Betty eventually became a tattoo artist herself. She was often found tattooing at one of the many arcades in San Francisco. In 1967, she retired from the circus world, and settled in central Florida, near Tampa.

Betty died in her sleep in 1983.

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