In the 1940s, Tommy Tucker traveled across the country, performing at schools and meetings and hospitals. He was featured in LIFE magazine. Sometimes he dressed up as a nurse or in a sweet gingham dress. So basically, he wasn’t that different from, say, Elton John. Except that Tommy Tucker was a squirrel.

The Washington Post reports:

He came from a tree, as all Eastern gray squirrels do. Stories differ — he fell from a branch when still a blind and hairless baby; or his mother died, leaving him orphaned; or a child found him — but, whatever happened, in 1942 he arrived at 1846 16th St. NW, the home of Mark C. and Zaidee Bullis.

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According to the Post, the Bullis family did not have kids. So Mrs. Bullis mothered the baby squirrel.

It was one of Dr. Bullis’s patients who sewed the first outfit, the details of which are lost. Perhaps it was the blue-and-white gingham dress, or maybe the ruffled skirt with pearl necklace, or the Dutch-girl costume with apron and bonnet. They were fashionable duds, scaled to a squirrel’s proportions.

There were many, many more outfits.


Nina Leon

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And you can see more at LIFE.

Despite his fame, Tommy Tucker lived a quiet life. He was found dead in his trailer, on a trip to the Grand Canyon, seven years after he first appeared in the Bullis’ life. The cause of death, according to a park ranger, was “apparently of a heart attack brought on by old age.” Evidently, wearing frocks and sleeping on a tiny sofa is a pretty sweet life for a squirrel.