As a little boy, Omar Kingsley ran away from his St. Louis home to join a travelling circus. Spence Stokes agreed to take him on as an apprentice, but only if the boy agreed to live his entire life as “Ella Zoyara.” A consummate female impersonator, the child performed dangerous riding tricks. Zoyara toured the world and grew internationally famous for her beauty. Back in the U.S., Zoyara secretly married Sallie Stickney, another circus rider. While performing in Manila, Ella tried to fend off the attentions of an army officer and wound up in jail, where her secret was forcibly uncovered. Omar Kingsley had to give up “Ella” for circus management.


  • Title: Ella Zoyara (1840-1879)
  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Physical Dimensions: Carte-de-visite (albumen), 4" x 2 1/2"
  • Provenance: The Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation
  • Subject Keywords: Performer
  • Type: Photograph
  • Publisher: Case & Getchell
  • Date: ca. 1863

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