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Dolly Dimples was billed as "The World's Prettiest Fat Girl" and "The World's Most Beautiful Fat Lady" with good reason. Her skin, she proudly tells us, "was like that of a Dresden china doll," flawless and smooth except for the dimples that inspired her name, which were fully an inch deep at each elbow. Though nearly 60 when she ended her sideshow career, there wasn't wrinkle on her face. She never lost her hourglass figure, either. At her peak, she had a 68-inch waist and 84-inch hips, balanced by a 74 1/2 inch bust - impressive statistics for a woman barely five feet tall. Dolly stayed faithful to her husband, Frank, but it's little wonder that wherever the circus took her, she always attracted at least one man with more than curiosity on his mind.

Dolly's beauty regimen was based on one simple principle. "I ate," she said, "from the time I got up until I went to bed." Her daily diet included five pounds of meat, several more pounds of potatoes, four loaves of bread, a gallon of milk, and nearly two pounds of sugar, most of it in the form of cookies, cakes, and pies. She grew up on lots of hearty German cooking (her family gathered at the kitchen table six times a day for meals and hefty snacks), and her love of food was well-established before she was six years old. As a girl, she even liked playing with candy better than playing with toys: a favorite game of hers was creating elaborate mosaics out of jelly beans, then gobbling them up. Dolly's life-long obsession with food was like an artist's obsession with paint. It was her deepest joy, and it was the defining passion of her life.

The following menu gives a pretty complete picture of what Dolly liked to eat on a typical day at home.







These portions are admittedly modest compared to what Dolly tucked away on special occasions, like visits back home to her mother's German kitchen. Traveling with the circus exposed her to lots of different edibles, and she wrote with gusto about feasting on brand-new dishes in Mexico City and Honolulu. Dolly described her cruise to Hawaii as one long meal. The fat lady who wanted second, third, and even fourth helpings amused the galley staff so much that they cheerfully kept on serving her after all the other passengers had finished. Eventually - too stuffed to take another bite - she'd waddle out on deck to work up a fresh appetite by sitting in the salt sea air. With food being prepared and served all day, it wasn't very long before the dinner bell called, and Dolly came waddling back for more. Not even rough weather discouraged her. "While some people ... were plagued with sea sickness," she wrote, "I just could not be bothered with either the loss of time or food."

Dolly (425 lbs) with Bertha Curtis (496 lbs) in 1930 (click)

Her biggest and happiest meals were probably the ones she shared with fellow fat lady Ruth Pontico and her husband Joe, who ran an Italian restaurant in Florida during the winter season. Joe kidded Dolly, complaining that she looked like a skinny kid next to 700-pound Baby Ruth, and encouraged her to fatten up by cooking something new and special every day. "Eating with Ruth and Joe was a jolly experience," Dolly later recalled. "We all enjoyed every minute of it. There were no feelings of restraint when I was eating with Ruth. She ate even more than I. She seriously confessed to me that she always packed away as much as she could hold and then more." Ruth loved being a fat lady so much that she was eagerly trying to get her weight up to 1,000 pounds.

Dolly wasn't a binge eater. She didn't eat out of some psychological compulsion, she ate for pure pleasure, and she ate out of genuine need. WhenDolly had to miss a meal, the hunger pains she felt were both acute and unrelenting. Without at least 10,000 calories a day to keep it quiet, her growling stomach kept her awake all night, or gave her horrid nightmares while she slept. But Dolly did have a serious eating problem. Between her six-foot bustline and her 40-inch upper arms, if someone set a mouth- watering morsel on the table right in front of her, she couldn't reach it.

Copyright 1997 by Karl J. Niedershuh. <kjnsoc@erols.com> All information on this page has been fully documented. Want to know more? If you can contribute pictures, information, or financial support to help create a Fat Ladies' Hall of Fame on the web, please e-mail the author.