O Me of Little Faith

Of all the people who end up at this blog based on random Google searches, the query that draws the most traffic on a weekly basis is one for “little Evelyn Talbert.” is #1 at Google if you want to know about Little Evelyn Talbert.

Why? It’s because of this post about the YouTube clip of Estus Pirkle’s scary/funny evangelistic film, “The Believer’s Heaven” (embedding is disabled, so you’ll need to go to YouTube to watch it, which I highly recommend and which you should do right this very minute).

I wrote a way-too-detailed commentary on the video here and a follow-up philosophical post about it here.

The one thing I’ve learned since then is that people think Pirkle is weird and possibly unhinged, but people love — loooooove — Little Evelyn Talbert, who shows up at the 2:11 point in the clip (“54 years old and 32 inches tall”). Affection for her is well-deserved. Even though her appearance in the clip makes me uncomfortable and is very, very patronizing, she’s by far the best thing about that video.

Due to that sentiment and all the Google traffic, I feel a lot of responsibility as the Internet’s #1 and pretty much only source of Evelyn Talbert information. Which is why I was thrilled several days ago to get an email from Gabrielle Talbert, who informed me that Evelyn Talbert was her great aunt and who thought it was hilarious that she was the star of that YouTube video.

Being a hard-nosed investigative journalist, I grilled Gabrielle to get the real story. And by “grilled,” I mean emailed back a reply asking “What else can you tell me about your great aunt?”

Gabrielle was very helpful (and gave me permission to post this, btw.) So here’s everything you ever wanted to know about Little Evelyn Talbert, the scene-stealing star of “The Believer’s Heaven.”

1. Evelyn Talbert was born in Richwood, West Virginia, but lived most of her life in Akron, Ohio.

2. She was a well-known gospel singer in Akron. Gabrielle has a photo of Evelyn with “one of the guys from the show, HeeHaw.” (Buck Owens? Roy Clark? Grandpa Jones?)

+ Update: It was Roy Clark.

3. Evelyn was married for a short while but lived mostly with her parents in a small apartment connected to her father’s house. Yes: small. According to Gabrielle, it was fully stocked with a “miniature refrigerator” and other small things. No joke.

4. Evelyn didn’t suffer from dwarfism, according to Gabrielle, but instead had what the family called “brittle bone disease,” also known as osteogenesis imperfecta (like Samuel L. Jackson had in Unbreakable!) “Every bone in her body just about had been broken at one point or another,” said Gabrielle. “I remember the story of my great-grandparents carrying her to church on a pillow, because her bones were so fragile.” Brittle bone disease often leads to severely deformed bone structure.

5. She taught ceramics and pottery at the University of Akron. Gabrielle: “She was a very crafty lady.”

6. She recorded a couple of Gospel albums and could play the piano. Her piano now resides with Gabrielle.

7. She lived into her 70s. Evelyn had two older brothers, one of whom was Gabrielle’s grandfather, who passed away just this summer at the age of 91.

According to Gabrielle Talbert, her great aunt Evelyn “was a very interesting person…and I am proud she was part of my history.”

So there you go. Thank you, Gabrielle, for getting in touch with me. I think together we have done the Internet a necessary service. May the legend continue…

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