The Infamous Cherry Sisters

The Worst Act in Vaudeville


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About the Book

Raised in poverty on an Iowa farm, the Cherry Sisters had little education and no training. But they possessed a burning desire to take to the stage and show the world what they could do—and what they could do was awful. Their unique act was “so bad it was good.” When the sisters took the stage, they were met with rotten fruit and vegetables, festering meat, dead cats… Riots often broke out after (and sometimes during) their concerts, but they carried on, changing attitudes—and laws—along the way.

This book follows the five women through their forty-year career in vaudeville theaters across the U.S. Proud, fearless and fiercely independent in a time when women were treated as second-class citizens, the Cherry Sisters insisted that their voices be heard.

About the Author(s)

Darryl W. Bullock is a writer based in Bristol, England. He is the author of several books and posts weekly on his popular obscure music blog,

Bibliographic Details

Darryl W. Bullock
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 214
Bibliographic Info: 30 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7556-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3479-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction 1
1. The Cherry Sisters Opera Company 5
2. Down on the Farm 17
3. Riot in Dubuque 27
4. Live, with (or without) a Net 40
5. Four Freaks from Iowa 48
6. And Then There Were Three 61
7. Riot at the Armory 75
8. The Cherry Sisters vs. the Des Moines Leader 84
9. The Cherry Sisters Held to Ransom 94
10. On the Comeback Trail 105
11. Can She Bake a Cherry Pie? 116
12. Effie for Mayor! 124
13. On the Comeback Trail (Again) 135
14. The End 148
15. Aftermath 155
Appendix 1: The Cherry Sisters in Concert 163
Appendix 2: A Cherry Sisters Timeline 166
Chapter Notes 193
Bibliography 203
Index 205