These individuals earned their living performing bizarre acts in carnivals and other such venues. Most were afflicted with physical impairments and were forced to rely on charity for financial support.
Number 1: The Elephant Man, or Joseph Merrick
Joseph Merrick was born in 1862, but by the time he was five, he had already developed a disorder that caused his limbs to grow abnormally large. In 1884, he became part of a traveling sideshow and was paid handsomely for his services. A passing physician noticed him and arranged for him to have a better life going forward. It is now thought that Joseph Merrick, rather than having elephantiasis, actually had Proteus Syndrome. Merrick, who was 27 at the time of his death, suffocated in his sleep.
Number 2: Santos Juan Baptista, That One Guy Who Has Two Penises
According to legend, Jean (or Juan) Baptista dos Santos, a “Gipsey,” was born around 1843 to two “normal” parents in Faro, Portugal. As far as we can tell, his career as an exhibitor was limited to the medical community; in 1865, he turned down 200,000 francs to perform for two years with a French circus. His outer two scrota each housed a single testicle, and he had two fully functional penes. Dos Santos said that when he was ten years old, his fully developed testes retreated into his abdomen from the central scrotum.
Number 8: Ms. Myrtle Corbin, a Four-Legged Feminist
Lincoln County, Tennessee is the location of Josephine Myrtle Corbin’s birth in 1868. She was born with a condition called dipygus, in which her pelvis was divided into two halves. Like Frank Lentini, who has three legs instead of two, the extra limbs are the result of a mismatched set of twins. Her smaller inner legs matched up with their larger outer counterparts. It was reported that she had limited inner leg movement, but her legs were too weak to support her walking. Besides a son, she gave birth to four daughters.
Number 7: Gabrielle, the Half-Lady, Mademoiselle
Gabrielle Fuller, who was born in 1884 and raised in Basle, Switzerland, made her circus debut at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris. She was a part of the Ringling Brothers’ traveling circus and made an appearance in the Dreamland sideshow at Coney Island. At least once, she wed a man named John de Fuller. Her toned upper half tapered off into a smooth waistline.
Number 6: The Ugliest Woman in History, Mary Ann Bevan
Mary Ann Webster was one of eight children born to Mary and George Webster in London, England in 1874. She became a nurse when she was young, and in 1903 she wed a farmer’s market named Thomas Bevan. Mary Ann’s symptoms of acromegaly (a form of gradual giantism that causes abnormal development and distortion of facial features, headaches, failing eyesight, and joint and muscle pain) started shortly after the couple tied the knot. Thomas and Elizabeth Bevan had four children together before he passed away in 1914.
Number 5: A Human Owl, Martin Laurello
It was in the German city of Nuremberg, around the year 1886, that the man we now know as Martin Laurello was born. When he was in his twenties, he started performing his act in Europe; he brought it to the United States in 1921. He was a regular in the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey sideshow and also made frequent appearances at Coney Island. As late as 1945, he was still performing with Ripley’s shows alongside “Popeye Perry” and “Junior Stiles,” a 7-year-old Lobster Boy, alongside whom he had previously worked for Dick Best’s Royal American Shows.
Number 4: Lady Clofullia, the Beard, of Geneva
In Switzerland, Josephine Boisdechene was born Madame Clofullia. There are stories that by the time she was eight years old, her beard measured two inches. After beginning her European tour with her father and an agent when she was only fourteen, she continued the journey with her father by her side for the next two years. They tied the knot after meeting in Paris, where she was the wife of painter Fortune Clofullia. When she styled her beard to look like that of Napoleon III, she became even more well-known. She gave her allegiance to the king, and he rewarded her with a massive diamond.
Number 3: The Unicorn That Walks Among Us, Wang
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, a Russian banker living in China came across a Chinese farmer from Manchukuo. The Russian managed to get a picture of the man and promptly forwarded it to Robert Ripley of “Believe It or Not!” fame. The farmer, whose name was never given and who was sometimes referred to as Weng, was an ordinary man aside from the fact that he had a spire-like horn that protruded from the back of his head and measured fourteen inches in height. If anyone could find Wang and bring him to Ripley’s Odditorium, he was offering a large sum of money. In the early 1930s, however, Wang suddenly vanished from view and was never seen or heard from again.
Number 2: Boy With A Lion’s Face, Lionel
In 1890, Stephan Bibrowsky was born to two average parents in Poland. This was because he was affected by hypertrichosis, a rare genetic condition in which the affected person grows an excessively dense coat of fur over their entire body. Just fifty cases of the disorder have been recorded since the Middle Ages. Lionel’s hair, which was about six inches long, completely covered his body. At the age of four, he was discovered by a German man named Meyer, who helped launch his career and earn him the moniker “Lionel the Lion-Faced Man” throughout Europe. Instead of being displayed as a beast, he often dressed in his finest attire to demonstrate that, beneath all those hairs, he was actually a well-read, affable, multilingual human being.
Number 1: Ella Harper or also known as the Camel Girl
Taken from Ella Harper’s promotional card. A pitch card was a type of promotional flyer commonly used by sideshows to promote their wares. “People call me the camel girl because my knees bend in the opposite direction. Like I am in the picture, I prefer to walk on my hands and feet. I’ve been on the road for four years with a touring show, but as of this year (1886), I’m ready to call it quits.”
This is a real thing; I saw a living example in Verona, Italy. There was a woman begging on the side of the road, but her legs were crossed in front of her instead of behind her.
Who is the oddest among the ten?
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