Friday, December 15, 2023

The Stork Woman

 Olivia Bozzone

Elizabeth Green was an accomplished woman. Born on October 10,1905 in Springfield, Massachusetts, she came into the world with a birth defect called Seckel Syndrome  that gave her peculiar features she was able to monetize later. Seckel syndrome, also known as Bird-Headed Dwarfism, is a type of dwarfism that causes bird-like features, such as a small head, small eyes, a large, beak-like nose, and a receding lower jaw (Wynbrandt). Because of this deformity, Green became a performer known as The Stork Woman in the Ringling Brothers Circus. She worked with the circus in the 1920s and 1930s. Green would wear a feather bird costume and stand at the entrance of the circus as an opening act. She was particularly placed there because she was considered less “strange” than the other performers (“Elizabeth Green Biography”). 

Alongside her title as The Stork Woman, Green was also known as Koo-Koo the Bird Girl; a name given to one other person, Minnie Woosley, for the movie Freaks made in 1932. Although they were both in the movie “Freaks”, and Green carried the title longer, Woosley will always be the performer people think about when they hear the name Koo-Koo, because she was the one hired for the role in the movie. No response was ever given from Green about this, but after the movie was made she returned to her position in the circus with the title of Koo-Koo (Meyer). It is said that Green didn’t want to be a movie actress, but she was a movie fiend, and she wanted to get the autograph of one of her favorite actors, Ronald Coleman (“Elizabeth Green Biography”). That was why she signed the contract for the movie “Freaks.”

Green was also a very successful businesswoman. According to IMBd she owned multiple apartment buildings in Boston and managed them all when she was home from the circus. Her Agent once said of her, “She may be koo-koo enough to make people laugh, but she’s not koo-koo when it comes to signing contracts” (“Elizabeth Green Biography”).

Even though she had a disability, she proved that she could not only sustain herself but do so incredibly well. She turned an unfortunate circumstance into a business. She was a successful comedienne and actress with many hobbies. Not much is known about Green’s life after the movie or later in her career. We don’t even know much about her death, except that she died on May 9, 2001. Much about her is left to the imagination, but what we do know is that Elizabeth Green was able to beat the odds, and be odd, while doing what she loved. 

Works Cited:

“Elizabeth Green Biography.” IMDb. Accessed on 28 October 2023.

Elizabeth Green the Stork Woman. Accessed on 29 October 2023. Wikipedia.

Meyer, Joseph R. Series Feature #4 – Life in The Circus From Yesterday to Today! – Koo-Koo the Bird Girl (Minnie Woolsey and Elizabeth Green). 29 August. 2020.

Wynbrandt, James., and Mark D. Ludman. “Seckel Syndrome (Bird-Headed Dwarfism).” The Encyclopedia of Genetic Disorders and Birth Defects, Infobase Publishing, 12 May 2010, pp. 344-345.

Links for Further Research:

Joseph Meyer Creatives

This is a blog post about some of the history behind the circus acts mentioned here.

Wisconsin Historical Society


This site provides more information about the circus that Elizabeth Green performed with.


This website gives the entire biography of Elizabeth Green.

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