March 2, 2012

Last Madam of the Chicken Ranch Dies At 84

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Chicken Ranch

The last madam of the Texas brothel best known for the Broadway show and movie it inspired “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” died last Saturday at the age of 84.

Edna Milton Chadwell, who owned and operated the Texan Chicken Ranch until it was shut down in 1973 had been hospitalized since October, following a car accident.

She began working at the Ranch in 1952, becoming the manager in three years. Seven years later, she bought the place from owner Jessie Williams, who had owned and operated the brothel since 1905. The place got its name during the Depression, when hard times forced Miss Jessie, as she was known, to accept a chicken in exchange for sex acts.

Following its closure in the 70s, Chadwell was the hostess at a restaurant named after the brothel, which featured much of its memorabilia. After this stint, she moved to Arizona, where she married.

According to her nephew Robert Kleffman, Chadwell was never ashamed of the work she had done at the brothel. Chadwell, in fact, made the practice of weekly checkups common among the sex workers operating out of her brothel. She was active in civic causes and became one of the town’s biggest philanthropists.

“She was a hard-nosed lady. She was very straightforward, didn’t put up with no monkey business, no nonsense,” Kleffman told the Associated Press. “Hard-nosed. But with a spine of steel and a heart of gold.”

Other than the name, there is no relationship between the former Chicken Ranch in La Grange, Texas and the one near Pahrump, in Nevada, which still remains.

Via AP. Header image from Ramascreen, featuring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton as they appear in the movie inspired by the Chicken Ranch.

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