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Turkish Tom Thumb

Turkish Tom Thumb

Turkish Tom Thumb
printed postcard, 6.5 x 4.25 inches, circa 1910
photographer: unknown

Capitalizing on the fame of the legend himself, Pasha Hayati Hassid was billed as "The Turkish Tom Thumb" one of many little people to claim that title qualified with their nationality.

Hayati Hassid was touring Australia when Great Britain declared war in 1914, and Hassid's status as a symbol of the Ottoman Empire soon put him in peril. His Australian manager, Paul H. Jones, alerted the authorities that the little performer intended to flee the country with several hundred pounds. In its paranoia, the Australian government was now worried that Hassid was acting as a spy for the Sultan, as his travels around the country provided the ideal opportunity to gather intelligence. Hassid quickly changed his stage name to "The European Tom Thumb", but in January of 1915, Hassid was arrested and required to sign a statement that he would not "take any action in any way prejudicial to the safety of the British Empire during the present war." Despite this, Hassid's manager again denounced him as an enemy spy later that spring.

Unable to leave the country and apparently unable to break his contract with his jingoistic accuser Hassid continued to work for Jones in Melbourne as the Mayor of Tiny Town. As one might imagine, this arrangement was unsatisfactory and eventually caused Hassid to bring suit against Jones for back wages. Jones countered that as an enemy subject during a time of war Hassid had no right to sue, but the court took the opinion that as Hassid was born in Salonica now territory belonging to Greece he could no longer be properly considered a Turk. The Greek Consul in Melbourne quickly accepted Hassid as a Greek citizen, and Hassid was awarded his salary. Shortly thereafter, Hassid left Australia for America, where he had family living in New York.

Eventually, Hassid was able to clear his name and resume his original stage name. Hassid appeared for many years in the ranks of the Royaumme de Liliput de Paris and the various Midget Cities that were so popular at Coney Island and the various World Fairs.

Here Hassid claims to be only 30-inches-tall and speak seven languages. He is clearly the little world's most cosmopolitan ambassador.

Turkish Tom Thumb: born January 1852. Height, 30 inches. Weight, 34 lbs. Speaks seven languages.

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All Images and Text James G. Mundie 2005 - 2010