Shortly after Charles Eisenmann photographed circus sideshow fat lady Rose Leslie in the attached photo (in 1881) she married John McLaughlin, a performer with the John B. Doris Circus. The couple toured together until the late winter of 1886 when Rose caught a severe chill at a fat women’s convention. After being laid up for several months in Lowell, Massachusetts, she died in June 1886 of pneumonia and heart complications. At the time of her death the five-foot three-inch Mrs. McLaughlin weighed 615 pounds. She was twenty-five.
Eisenmann’s photographs of Rose suggest she probably had Cushing’s Disease – hyperactivity of the cortex of the adrenal glands. The deposition of fat at the base of her neck (the so-called “buffalo hump”), moon face and extreme truncal obesity, all external clues to the presence of the disease, were established as diagnostics by Harvey Cushing some decades after her death. The disorder is now treated through surgical removal of the glands.