Touring Texoma: Vivian Wheeler

While touring Texoma, we've met so many interesting people, with fascinating stories to tell.

Vivian Wheeler lives in Lawton, and she's actually in the Guinness Book of World Records, and Ripley's Believe It or Not  because she's a bearded lady.

"My dad told me before I left, you do everything they say.  You be a good girl.  You'll be back.  They'll bring you back."

Because of what's called Werewolf Syndrome, Vivian was born with facial hair, and was sold by her father to the circus when she was just 5- years old.
That's where she'd stay for much of more than 5- decades.
"My mother told me she had to work to help the family, so I had to work to help the family, and that's how my father was too."

"I never got to experience a lot because mainly they kept me there.  They didn't, if they went out on the town, a restaurant, they never took me."  "Because you had to be the surprise?"  "Right."

"I'm a bearded lady, you know.  He was selling my beard."

Many of the almost 55 years on the road for Vivian with the circus and in side shows were unhappy years.  But, she says getting into the Guinness Book of World Records and in Ripley's Believe It or Not, have definitely brought her happiness.

 "Told them I wanted to be in the Guinness Book of World Records, and they said, who are we speaking to?  I said, you're speaking to Vivian Wheeler.  I said, I'm a bearded lady. They said, you're a bearded lady?  I said, yes.  And, you want to be in our book?  I said, yes I do.  They said, well, the lady we had before, she died in the 1800's, 1884." 

And, Vivian says that lady, as it turns out, is a descendant on her family tree.

"You know, like the tree of life, she is my great, great grandmother."

"She had 14- inches of beard.  Someday, maybe I will."

"Here in the United States, they measure from the chin down, and I have 11- inches.  In Milan, Italy, they measure from underneath and down there, all the way down to the tip.  So, I have 10, but I really have 11."

It was in Italy that she met the smallest woman in the world,  after Vivian was examined thoroughly by 35- doctors in the states, from skin samples taken from her mouth, to x-rays and blood tests.

"One of the doctors said, well Mrs. Wheeler, we've been through all your papers, and we can't find a flaw in you.  I said, no I'm perfect.  I said, God doesn't make mistakes."

This picture was taken just before Vivian retired about 10- years ago.

"This is a side show.  The Brothers Grim Side Show.  That's what Ken Harck called it."
It's these pictures for longest female beard, Vivian's most proud of, those she believes were destined to be taken.

"This is what He wanted, because He, we are all His.  He doesn't make mistakes.  This is what He wanted, is Vivian Wheeler here, to be the only bearded lady in Guinness and Ripley's.

The reason Vivian's in a wheelchair is because of Osteoporosis and curvature of the spine, among other things.
Her daughter lives in Bakersfield, California.
She says one of the absolute greatest times in her life was when she was reunited with her son 2- years ago, who was kidnapped by her 'then' husband around 1980.
Also at the top of her list, when she was baptized in 2000.

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