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H.R.H. Princess Wee Wee

Princess Wee Wee

Princess Wee Wee
postcard, 5.5 x 3.5 inches, circa 1916
photographer: unknown

Princess Wee Wee, a native of Baltimore whose real name was Harriet Elizabeth Thompson, was a popular attraction at the start of the twentieth century. Among the most famous little people of her day, Wee Wee appeared with various shows including Coney Island's Dreamland. Why she or her promoter should have chosen a stage name that is synonymous with ‘urine’ is a mystery that may never be fully revealed. However unfortunate the appellation, it didn't seem to to lessen her appeal. Wee Wee was a sideshow celebrity of national prominence, and in June 1926 even performed at the White House for President Coolidge.

Starting about 1925, Wee Wee toured as a featured dancer with The Whitman Sisters, who for forty years were known as "the Royalty of Negro Vaudeville" and through their annual touring shows nurtured such talents as Count Basie, Pine Top Smith and Moms Mabley. Princess Wee Wee was a star attraction of the revue, where she was billed as "The World's Smallest Perfect Woman". In her routine, Wee Wee was often paired with a six-foot tall male dancer.

In 1933, Wee Wee moved to California with Essie Whitman, one of the four Whitman Sisters. This move was apparently the result of Wee Wee's desire to find work in the movies. The Princess had her own booth at the 1934 meeting of the Screen Actors Guild, and appeared — uncredited — as a dancer in at least one film, The Music Goes 'Round (1936).

My tribute to Her Royal Highness, Princess Wee Wee Riding a Hound, may be found here.

[Many thanks to author Marc L. Bankert for providing me with information about Princess Wee Wee's background that he uncovered while researching the career of Lillian "The Sepia Queen" Goodner.]

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All Images and Text James G. Mundie 2004 - 2010