Anna Albertine Olga Brown was born in 1858, just one year before Jules Leotard invented the flying trapeze. Brown’s parents must have been circus people, as she started performing at age nine. Under the name Miss Lala (or La La), she walked the high wire and flew on a trapeze, but what really astonished audiences was her iron jaw act. She was often elevated to the trapeze on a pulley, which she held onto with her teeth. This tiny Black woman with amazing strength could hold up the weight of a man with her teeth while suspended upside-down on a rope. She could even hold the weight of a 200-pound cannon- with her teeth! Miss Lala caught the attention of artist Edgar Degas, who in 1879 enshrined her in his only circus painting, Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando. Over a 20-year career, she performed at venues such as the Folies Bergère in Paris and the Royal Aquarium in London, and all over Europe under various stage names. Read about Olga Brown, Miss Lala, at Messy Nessy Chic.
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