There have been, and are at present, quite a number of one-legged performers before the public. A very popular turn on the American variety stage at the present time is that given by Jack Joyce, a young dancer who lost a leg while fighting with the British forces during the war. Joyce dances in most nimble fashion, both with and without a crutch, and one of his items is a fox-trot danced with a lady partner! In England, a turn that has long been popular is that of Conway and Leland - "The Merry Monopedes" - two male performers who, despite the fact that each has lost a leg, manage to do a great many things that would prove extremely difficult for normal two-legged individuals. It is rather as acrobats and jumpers than as dancers that they excel, but as clever one-legged performers they can quite conveniently be included in this brief survey. A somewhat similar performance is given by the Bistrews, two one-legged French ex-soldiers, who appeared quite recently at the Coliseum and Alhambra Theatres; and another one-legged team, appearing on the halls throughout the country, call themselves the Donatos, no doubt after the famous one-legged dancer mentioned above.
Just before the war, one of the most highly-paid and most remarkable contortion acts in American vaudeville was that given by a very beautiful and magnificently formed women whose right leg was completely absent from the trunk. The present writer can vouch for the fact, as he himself saw the lady; and the curious thing was that nobody in the vast and appreciative audience appeared to find anything displeasing in the fact. Rather the contrary. The artist appeared in the usual regulation silk tights worn by all acrobats, a costume that, of course, made only too obvious the complete absence of the missing leg, but she appeared quite unconcerned at this frank exhibition of her deficiency, and certainly seemed to suffer little handicap from her loss.
On her single her balance leg was perfect - the result, of long practice - and she moved about the stage whenever necessary, quite easily and, in fact, gracefully, employing either a rapid toe-and-heel shuffle or a long, easy hop, and she presented a very clever and very difficult routine of contortionist tricks with absolute neatness and precision. One of her tricks was a backward bend from the waist, in which, supported only by her single leg, she bent downwards and backwards until she was able, not only to grip her ankle with both hands, but to lift her head and smile at the audience from beneath her bent body! She used no crutches throughout the whole of the act, and at the close she took all her calls, which were many, by simply hopping on and off the stage in response to the continued applause.
The many "freak" dancing acts to be seen at private and exclusive night cabaret in Berlin, one of the most sensational is that provided by a beautiful one-legged girl who, in the scantiest of clothing, presents a remarkable series of dances before extremely appreciative audiences. Her dances are mainly of the posing variety, many of them with the leg and foot bare, and she is assisted throughout by a male partner, upon whom she depends a good deal foe support. In the case of this girl, the fact that she is one-legged seems rather a queer kind of asset than otherwise, taken, no doubt, in conjunction with her great beauty. She is seen everywhere - at Society functions, well- known cafes and cabarets, etc. - always clad in most fashionable and daring gowns, her leg usually stockingless, a slim, high heeled sandal slipper that is little more than a sole and a few straps, on her foot and supported by a pair of slender crutches that are as ornate and dainty as it is possible for such things to be. And always she has her court of admirers who, apparently, are in no way repelled by the fact that this beautiful girl is so pathetically crippled by the absence of a lower limb. She certainly seems to have discovered that the loss of her leg, far from proving a handicap, has indeed helped her to gain a bizarre kind of fame of which she seems to be quite pardonably proud.