So what did that "headless lady" of Clayton Rawson's book, The Headless Lady, really look like to the audiences who came to see her in the circus sideshow?
Apparently, like this:
That's a photo, originally taken at the New York World's Fair in 1939, showing Clayton Rawson and the illusion of the headless lady. According to the author's son, who graciously provided the photo, his father didn't produce this illusion. But he did write a full description in his book, and the description nicely matches the picture you see here.
Nope. No Photoshop. This was 1939 (and the book was published in 1940). Just...illusion...