Katie Reilly was born in Co. Cavan, Ireland on June 10, 1908. She is a survivor of the famed 1912 Titanic ocean liner sinking disaster. The fact that she did survive is quite fascinating because she was a third class passenger and disguised as a boy. There was no real reason for the disguise other than that she preferred knickers to petticoats. It made running to the life boats easier, and her petite build let her slip in unnoticed.
Throughout the twenties and thirties Reilly worked as a waitress in a seedy lounge in Grand Rapids, MI. It was there that she met and married her first husband, Robby Hurte, who was a door-to-door rug salesman. Being a mobile rug salesman is a difficult job as the rugs are heavy and collect dust and bugs. Most of the time people slammed doors in his face.
Reilly grew tired of never having any money and left Robby Hurte for Morris P. Morris III, who was the third son of Anderson P. Morris II. She met him while working as a temporary welder for the carnival. Morris P. Morris II was Morris P. Morris III’s great-grandfather, and Morris P. Morris I was a dead relative whose relationship to Morris P. Morris III had been disregarded and forgotten. It suffices to say that, though having an important sounding name, Morris P. Morris III was not an important person, and therefore made an ideal match for Reilly (who still preferred knickers to petticoats) in 1937.
A month into the marriage Morris P. Morris III began seminary training to be a minister in the Reformed church. This was an unforeseen event for Reilly and her preference for men’s clothing. It was at this point that she began to second guess her station in life.
On her thirtieth birthday Reilly gave birth to her first and only child, upon whom the honor of the name Morris P. Morris IV was bestowed. The oddest part about the name was that it had been given to a girl. Fortunately, Little Morris also preferred knickers to petticoats. In addition, she preferred her mother to her father and the stage to the church.
Reilly left Morris P. Morris III in 1950, and she and Little Morris joined up with an acting troupe as professional male impersonators. The work suited them and they stayed with the troupe until Reilly’s death in 1980. After that, Little Morris and her knickers opened a club for cross dressers in L.A. where she performs weekly with a large picture of her mother projected on the back wall of the stage.
Photo courtesy of calpernia.com, from ‘Tipping the Velvet’