The Joplin Globe reported on February 21 1937 that female impersonator Everett Stuart had recently died in Hollywood. Known as The Male Patti, Everett toured the US and Europe during a 50-year drag career.
Everett Stuart grew up in a small mining town in Kansas. And it seems, even in the 1870s, the residents of Galena coped with the teenage boy’s predilection for crossdressing. At 14, he attended the annual masked ball dressed as a female fashion model without any adverse comment. Most people already knew the kid from his job at the post office where he often received bouquets of flowers from female customers in recognition of his sterling service.
A local celebrity for his soprano voice, at the age of 16, he entered a talent quest in drag. (Pictured above right.) Everett never looked back. The Joplin Globe reported that from then on, “Young Stuart liked to don female attire to visit skating rinks and other places and pose as a girl, singing in his rich soprano voice.”
When he turned 17, The Galena Weekly Republican declared without further comment, “Everett Stuart is very much a lady.”
Everett joined a travelling show and left Galena at 18. The locals followed his career closely, and proudly. The following year, the Weekly Republican reprinted a glowing review a New Orleans paper gave ‘Our Everett’. The Mascot described him as a “wonderfully clever female impersonator.
“He has a natural soprano voice of most marvellous pitch. He holds his notes with remarkable clearness from beginning to end. His voice all through sounding so much like that of a Prima Donna, that detection [of his gender] is impossible.”
The Male Patti
Everett was christened The Male Patti for his impersonations of Adelina Patti, the most famous soprano of the age. But while well-paid, he never came close to Adelina who demanded $5,000 a night in gold, before she stepped onstage.
Everett eventually toured the continent and performed, as they say, for the crowned heads of Europe. He eventually opened a dress shop in Germany, to showcase his own designs. He traded on the repute of the beautiful gowns he wore onstage. But when war broke out, he had to leave all his stock behind and flee.
Everett moved home to the US and volunteered as an entertainer to help sell war bonds. However, after the war, it became harder to book engagements and he ended up working at a train station selling tickets.
Everett Stuart died a pauper in a Los Angeles hospital on January 5 1937.
But they still cherished his memory in Galena, Kansas.