Millie Christine McCoy, the two-headed woman, “the eighth wonder of the world,” held receptions in Los Angeles during the month of December, 1894. Admission was 15 cents. Children’s tickets cost a dime.
Siamese twins born into slavery, Millie and Christine were sold by their father to an entertainer in 1853 for the price of $1,000. During the course of their 30 year career as performers they learned to read, write, sing, dance and speak five languages. The two girls, often billed as “The Two-Headed Nightingale,” would sing duets, one a sweet soprano, the other a low contralto. Throughout their lives they were referred to as one person rather than two separate people, and often spoke of themselves this way as well.
At one point a showman entrusted with exhibiting the twins stole them away from their third and most benevolent owner, Joseph Pearson Smith, and ran off with them to London. Smith recovered the girls and brought them back to North Carolina, where they elected to stay at the Smith homestead after Emancipation.
The Civil War, and Smith’s death in 1860 left the Smith family and the twins in dire financial straits. The twins decided to put themselves on exhibit again to ease their situation. The act was so popular that the the twins were able to help their father, Jacob, buy back Mr. Smith’s plantation, the same plantation where Jacob had once been a slave.
In 1869 the twins published their autobiography, “History and Medical Description of the Two-Headed Girl.” Millie died of complications from tuberculosis in 1912. Doctors administered morphine to Christine to help ease her death. She outlived her sister by 17 hours.