The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
Tourist Guy 9/11 Hoax, Sep 2001
Stotham, Massachusetts: the town that didn't exist, 1920
Pierre Brassau, Monkey Artist, 1964
Snowball the Monster Cat, 2000
Rachael Ray cooks her family and her dog
Old-Time Photo Fakery, 1900 to 1919
The Hoaxing Hitchhiker, 1941
Jean Gauntt, the Immortal Baby, 1939
Prof. Wingard's Death Ray Hoax, 1876
Boy floats away in balloon, 2009
Billy Tipton, 1989
Billy Tipton (1914-1989) got his start in the predominantly masculine world of jazz during the 1930s. He made a name for himself playing the saxophone and piano, and during the 1950s formed his own group, the Billy Tipton Trio. Throughout his life he had a number of wives and adopted three sons. Therefore, when he died at the age of 74 on January 21, 1989, it came as a surprise to almost everyone to discover that Billy Tipton was really a woman. Even his wives claimed not to have known his secret during their marriages to him.

It is not clear why Tipton chose to conceal his gender. Some speculate that it was the only way for Tipton to make it in the world of jazz during the 1930s, although by the 1950s a number of women had established careers in that field. Others theorize that Tipton was simply more comfortable living as a man.

Regardless of Tipton’s motivation, it was certainly a secret that he rigorously guarded. Apparently he chose not to seek medical treatment for the bleeding ulcer that killed him because that would have required disclosing his gender to the hospital staff.

Ironically, by the 1980s the revelation that a male musician was actually a cross-dressing woman would no longer have been shocking to most people, given that this was the decade in which musicians such as Madonna, Boy George, Prince, David Bowie, and k.d. lang all made careers out of bending gender norms.
Categories: Music, Gender Fakers, 1977-1989
Commenting is no longer available for this post.

All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.