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Tommy Tucker: Washington’s most famous squirrel that traveled across the country, performing at schools and hospitals

David Goran

Tommy Tucker was a male Eastern gray squirrel adopted in 1942 by Zaidee Bullis and her husband Mark C. Bullis after he fell from a tree in the backyard of their house in Washington, D.C. Tommy became famous throughout the United States, touring the country wearing women’s fashions while entertaining children, performing tricks, and selling war bonds.

Although Tommy was a boy, all his outfits (more than 30 outfits made by Mark and Zaidee Bullis) were female, for the simple reason that his tail would not fit in pants. Tommy was featured in LIFE magazine, complete with a gallery of photos by Nina Leen, a young freelance photographer.

Mark and Zaidee Bullis, adopted Tommy after he was orphaned as a baby.

Mark and Zaidee Bullis, adopted Tommy after he was orphaned as a baby.

 

He had more than 30 specially made costumes.

He had more than 30 specially made costumes.

 

Tommy began accompanying Mrs. Bullis wherever she and her family went.

Tommy began accompanying Mrs. Bullis wherever she and her family went.

Prints of those photos are now on view at Daniel Cooney Fine Art in Chelsea. A Washington Post columnist called him “the most famous squirrel ever to come from Washington.”

In 1943, the Bullis family began taking Tommy on tour in their Packard automobile and he began to visit schools and hospitals, where he charmed his young audience.

In 1944, Tommy was featured in Life magazine, with a gallery of photos by the young freelance photographer Nina Leen.

In 1944, Tommy was featured in Life magazine, with a gallery of photos by the young freelance photographer Nina Leen.

 

Even though Tommy was a boy, all of the outfits were girl clothes.

Even though Tommy was a boy, all of the outfits were girl clothes.

 

Mrs. Bullis started out taking Tommy to school with his little outfits to entertain children.

Mrs. Bullis started out taking Tommy to school with his little outfits to entertain children.

Tommy was dressed in a coat and hat for going to market and in a Red Cross uniform for visiting the hospital. At the height of his fame, the Tommy Tucker Club had around 30,000 members. He sold war bonds during World War II and starred in a short Paramount film.

Tommy died in the Bullises’ trailer on June 25, 1949, due to a heart attack brought on by old age. He was sent to a taxidermist in Denver to be stuffed so that he could be placed in a museum but that never happened.

Tommy Tucker in a nurse uniform.

Tommy Tucker in a nurse uniform.

 

Tommy with a plastic dog.

 

 

The current whereabouts of Tommy is a mystery.

The current whereabouts of Tommy is a mystery.

It is believed that in 2005, his remains were offered to the Smithsonian Institute along with all his belongings, including his dresses, souvenir photographs, and letters from schoolchildren.

Read another story from us: Emily the Cow escaped from a slaughter facility and became a national celebrity and folk-hero

They showed no interest and turned him down because they were receiving so many donations at the time. No one is exactly sure where Tommy’s remains are today.