Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dionne Quintuplets

Now that the publicity surrounding the Octomom has died down, let us return to the quintessential story of childhood exploitation: the Dionne Quintuplets. Born 3 months premature in Canada in 1934, they were the first quintuplets known to survive infancy - and they were identical. After spending only 4 months with their family (mother, father, and 5 siblings), the girls were removed from their home and became wards of the Ontario government under the guardianship of Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe, who had delivered them. A nursery was set up across the street from their home, and the outdoor playground was designed to be an observation area - for the 6,000 tourists a day who came to see them at what became known as Quintland! The attraction drew more visitors than the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, provided income to the Dionne family and other locals who sold souvenirs, and put the quintuplets' photos on any number of commercial products. In 1943, the parents regained custody of the girls, but they compelled them to perform and dress identically, and treated them differently than their other children. The girls later revealed that they were also sexually abused by their father at this time. The Dionne sisters left home at 18 and had little contact with their parents afterward. Emilie became a nun, but had an epileptic seizure at her convent and died of suffocation in 1954 (age 20). In 1964, they cowrote an often bitter autobiography. Marie married, but died of an apparent blood clot in the brain in 1970 (age 35). The Dionnes had starred in 4 films as children, but it was when the 3 surviving quints were interviewed during the making of a 1994 TV drama about their lives called "Million Dollar Babies" that they fully realized how strange and sad their own story is. In 1998 they reached a settlement of $4 million with the Ontario government. Yvonne died of cancer in 2001 (age 67), but Annette and Cecile had each married, had children, and divorced, and now live together (age 75) in Montreal. Be sure to watch the clips here.

1 comment:

  1. I got a picture of a man in the military in a garage sale and the picture of the quintuplets was behind. He looks like he could be relation. I'm on a journey to find out who these pictures belong to. Seems like great family history!! I just thought it was the picture of the soldier, which I just loved being from a long line of them, but then found the picture behind. Then found out the info that I did. I would think it's family otherwise why would you put them together. ? hope this is a part of your family that I can give to you! Tena L. Blanchard


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