Betty Broadbent was born on November 1, 1909 in Philadelphia.
Her interest in tattooing began at the early age of fourteen. It was then she met Jack Redcloud while working as a nanny in Atlantic City. Redcloud introduced her to his tattoo artist, Charlie Wagner. In 1927 Wagner, alongside several other tattoo artists, including: Tony Rhineagear, Joe Van Hart and Red Gibbons would tattoo a bodysuit of over 565 tattoos on Broadbent.
On May 3, of 1939 the New York Times would quote Broadbent stating, “It hurt something awful, but it was was worth it.” In the same year, Broadbent began exhibiting her art with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. While working in a side show in 1939, Broadbent challenged the traditional views of beauty for women during the 1930s by participating in a beauty pageant at the World’s Fair.
Alongside exhibiting her art, Broadbent tattooed others herself. She worked in shops across the country including spaces located in Montreal, San Francisco and New York. She also spent time working for independent circuses in both New Zealand and Australia. When she returned home to the United States, she continued performing and traveling in a side show until she retired in 1967.
Betty Broadbent is regarded as the most photographed tattooed lady of the 20th century. In 1981, Broadbent was the first person to be inducted into the Tattoo Hall of Fame.
Betty Broadbent died in Florida on March 28, 1983 (x)