Little Robert (1949)
Just about everyone in Knoxville knew about Little Robert Van Winkle during the 1940s and 1950s. This popular top-notch bluegrass performer and part-time comedian had an average upper body, but his legs were only seven inches long. Van Winkle was already an accomplished radio performer when he arrived in Knoxville during the latter 1940s. Starting out as a cast member on the WNOX Mid-Day-Merry-Go Round, he quickly graduated to leading his own band, then eventually wound-up as a regular performer on the Cas Walker radio and television shows. Van Winkle is attributed with co-writing the classic Bill Monroe tune “Close By.” No recordings of Little Robert are known to survive, but he has achieved a certain degree of immortality due to a brief mention in Cormac McCarthy’s novel Suttree.