Betty Broadbent

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Betty Broadbent (November 1, 1909 - March 28, 1983) was a tattooed lady. Her real name was Sue Lillian Brown and she grew up in Philadelphia.


She told a story that she was working as a nanny in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at the young age of fourteen. Though most tattooed ladies told stories of being kidnapped by natives and forced into being tattooed, she refused to. She married at the age of 19 and had a son with a cowboy named Joe Carter, though the marriage didn't last. She spent her days on the beach and boardwalk where she met tattooist Jack Redcloud, and by 1927 she was well on her way to receiving a bodysuit from Joe Van Hart, Charlie Wagner, Red Gibbons, and Tony Rhineagear, some of the first tattoo artists to use an electric tattoo machine. Her second husband was a ventriloquist named Charlie Roark. They broke up in 1952 and she married her third husband, Winford Brewer, in 1967.

She is credited as having "more than 350 tattoos," including many of celebrities of the time (Queen Victoria, for example). She got jobs as a tattooed lady, working with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, as well as other shows such as Cole Brothers, Sells-Floto, and Harry Carey's Wild West Show. Betty performed for over forty years traveling all over North America as well as Australia and New Zealand.

Betty eventually became a tattoo artist herself and worked in San Francisco. She retired to Florida in 1967 where Lyle Tuttle was instrumental in finding her in the early 1980s when she commented, "Boy, do I miss the people and the travel." In 1981, two years before her death, she became the first person to be inducted into the Tattoo Hall of Fame.

She died in her sleep in 1983 in Florida.

Betty Broadbent
Betty Broadbent

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