Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Prince Randian

Prince Randian

Born without limbs in British Guyana, South America in 1871, Prince Randian was brought to America before the turn of the century by legendary showman P.T. Barnum who billed him as "The Human Caterpillar", "The Living Torso" or "The Human Worm".
Prince Randian, a Hindu, was said to possess a quiet sense of humour and was able to speak Hindu, English, German and French. His personal philosophy was that no physical handicap need matter if the mind is dominant. He was able to write, paint, shave and roll his own cigarettes using only his mouth, the latter feat is demonstrated in the film Freaks.
Prince Randian's only dialogue in the film is almost indecipherable, but he apparently remarks to one of the Rollo brothers, "Can you do anything with your eyebrows?"
During the carnival's off-season, Prince Randian resided in Patterson, New Jersey with his devoted wife and several children. His last public appearance was an evening show at Sam Wagner's 14th. Street Museum on December 19th. 1934. He collapsed and died shortly after at the age of 63.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Harry and Daisy Earles

The Doll Family
Born in Germany, Harry and Daisy's family name was Scheider. Harry, Daisy and their two sisters Grace and Tiny travelled to America and appeared at Coney Island as The Doll Family before adopting the surname Earles and appearing professionally in carnivals, circuses and vaudeville.

Harry Earles, born Kurt Scheider, was 39 inchesHarry Earles high and had already worked with Tod Browning before Freaks in 1925 on The Unholy Three as the ruthless midget Tweedledee. He later reprised the role for the 1930 sound remake again with Lon Chaney.
As a point of interest it was Harry that brought Tod Browning's attention to the Clarence A. "Tod" Robbins novel on which the film Freaks was based.
After 1932 Harry left the motion picture industry to tour with the Ringling Brothers and the Barnum & Bailey Circuses.
The entire Earles family, including Daisy who was known as "The Midget Mae West" and actually grew a few inches taller later in life, all appeared in MGM's The Wizard of Oz (1939). Harry can be seen as one of the Lollipop Boys.
After 25 years with the circus, Harry retired to Sarasota, Florida where he lived until his death in 1985.
As a side note Harry can also be seen in Laurel and Hardy's SAILORS BEWARE (1927) and BLOCKHEADS (1940).

Monday, 27 February 2012

World's shortest man declared in Nepal

Home to Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, Nepal has added another height-related record to their collection – that of world's shortest man.

A Guinness World Records team measured Chandra Bahadur Dangi at 21.5 inches (54.60cm), declaring the 72-year-old even shorter the previous title holder, Junrey Balawing, from the Philippines, who stood at 23.5 inches at the age of 18 last year.
"The good news is that Chandra Bahadur Dangi is the world's shortest living man," Guinness Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday said after measurements were taken.
"If he is really 72 years old he is the oldest person to be awarded the shortest-man record," Mr Glenday said, adding Mr Dangi was also the shortest person ever measured by the Guinness World Records.
From a poor and uneducated family in a remote part of Nepal, Mr Dangi said he had never heard of Mount Everest and was unaware of the world record title before a timber merchant visited his remote village last month and decided to measure him.
His diminutive size has since made him a celebrity in the impoverished nation of 26.6 million people and he took a plane for the first time last week to travel from his village, Rimkholi, 167 miles west of Kathmandu, to meet the Guinness World Records officials in the capital.
"I am good. I feel happy," Mr Dangi said holding two framed certificates . "I want to travel around the world and spread the name of my country."
Mr Dangi, whose parents died when he was still in his teens, lives with his brother with, he said, no desire to marry.
His family has no idea when he stopped growing as many Nepali villages still lack basic health care. Dangi has never seen a doctor in his life. Five of his brothers and two sisters are of normal size.
Dangi mostly stays at home, needing assistance to move around, preparing head straps used by villagers to carry loads.
Before Balawing, who was declared the shortest man in the world in June last year, another Nepali man, Khagnedra Thapa Magar, who stood 26.4 inches tall, held the title.

Friday, 24 February 2012




Lazarus Colloredo (1617-1646) is perhaps the earliest example of a man who became widely famous as a human freak.  Born in Genoa, Italy, Lazarus toured Europe for a decade.  He made his living by exhibiting himself to a public that was drawn to see the unusual.
Lazarus Colloredo was a handsome, courteous man.  He got married and fathered several children, all of whom were normal.  Lazarus also had a parasitic twin named Joannes Baptista, who dangled from his midsection. 
Joannes Baptista had only an upper body and a left leg that protruded out of Lazarus.  Joannes never spoke; he never opened his mouth or eyes.  Lazarus kept him covered up with a cloak when not performing. 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Schlitzie, possibly born Simon Metz , and legally Schlitze Surtees was a American sideshow performer and occasional actor, best known for his role in the 1932. movie Freaksand his life-long career on the outdoor entertainment circuit as a major sideshow attraction with Barnum and Bailey, among others.
Schlitzie’s true birth date, name and location is unknown; it is commonly accepted, at least by what was inscribed on his death certificate , that he was born on September 10, 1901 in New York, though 1892 has also been considered as a possibility.
Schlitzie was born with microcephaly, a neuro developmental disorder that left him with an unusually small brain and skull, a small stature (he stood about four feet tall (122cm)),myopia and moderate to severe mental retardation. It was said Schlitzie had the cognizance of a three year-old: he was unable to fully care for himself and he could only speak in monosyllabic words and form a few simple phrases. However, he was still able to perform simple tasks and it is believed that he could understand most of what was said to him, as he had a very quick reaction time and the ability to mimic.  Those who knew Schlitzie described him as an affectionate, exuberant, sociable person who loved dancing, singing and being the center of attention, performing for anyone he could stop and talk to.
On the sideshow circuit, microcephalics were usually promoted as “pinheads” or “missing links”, and Schlitzie was billed under such titles as “The Last of the Aztecs”, “The Monkey Girl” or simply”What Is It?”, or was paired up with other microcephalics. One notable example of the latter was Schlitzie’s possible pairing with a microcephalic woman named Athelia, exhibited together as “Aurora and Natalia, the Aztec sisters”. This has led to claims that Aurora actually was Schlitzie’s sister, but these claims are unsubstantiated.
Schlitzie was often  presented as a female or left androgynous to add to the mystique of his odd appearance. Those who knew him alternately referred to him as “he” and “she”. The sideshow circuit was a tremendous success for Schlitzie, and throughout the 1920s and 1930s, he was employed by many upscale circuses. In 1928, Schlitzie made his film debut in the The Sideshow, a drama that took place at a circus, featuring a variety of actual sideshow performers including himself. In 1932, Schlitzie landed his most known role as an actor in Tod Browning’s iconic horror film Freaks.
The appearance of Freaks’ cast proved extremely controversial on its original release, and the film was ultimately a financial failure. Additionally, it was banned for thirty years in the United Kingdom and Browning struggled to find work following its release, his last with a major studio.
In 1935, while Schlitzie was performing with the Tom Mix Circus, George Surtees, a chimpanzee trainer also appearing at the show with a trained chimp act, adopted him, becoming Schlitzie’s legal guardian. In 1941, Schlitzie appeared in his final film role as “Princess Betsy”.Under the care of Surtees, Schlitzie continued performing the sideshow circuit until Surtees’ death in the early 1960s, after which Surtees’ daughter, who was not in show business, committed Schlitzie to a Los Angeles county hospital.
Schlitzie remained hospitalized for some time until he was recognized by sword swallower  Bill Unks, who happened to be working at the hospital during the off-season. According to Unks, Schlitzie seemed to miss the carnival dearly, and being away from the public eye had made him very sad and depressed. Hospital authorities determined that the best care for Schlitzie would be to make him a ward of Unks’ employer, showman Sam Kortes, and return him to the sideshow.
On September 24, 1971, at the age of 70, Schlitzie died from bronchial pneumonia at Fountain View Convalescent Home. His death certificate listed his official name as “Shlitze Surtees” and his birth date as 1901. Schlitzie’s grave remained unmarked until August 2008, when members of the website www.findadeath.com raised almost $400 to purchase him a proper headstone, which displays his name as “Schlitze Surtees” and his birth date as September 10, 1901.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Lionel – The Lion Faced Boy

Stephan Bibrowsky was born in Poland in 1890 to normal parents. He suffered from hypertrichosis, a rare genetic disease that covers the entire bodies of the subjects with a thick coat of fur. Only about 50 cases of the disorder have been documented since the Middle Ages. In the case of Lionel, six-inch-long hair covered his body. He was discovered by a German man named Meyer when he was four years old and became famous throughout Europe where he gained the nickname of Lionel the Lion-Faced Man. Far from being exhibited as a beast, he wore often the best clothes to show that under his hairs he was a literate and enjoyable person that spoke five languages.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


Schlitze was born in Yucatan, Mexico during the 1880's and had a sister who also suffered from microcephaly. Despite being male, Schlitze wore dresses to simplify his toilet needs, but he was unusually intelligent for a microcephaly sufferer and could sing a few notes, dance a few steps and even count to ten. It was said that Schlitze loved hats, new dresses, bits of string, games and Freaks director Tod Browning, even to the point of imitating the tone of his voice.
Up until a tour of St. Louis, Schlitze was billed as "Maggie, the last of the Aztecs", but then a well known beer company gave him the name of Schlitze.Schlitze with Rochelle Hudson and Chester Morris in Meet Boston Blackie (1941)

His nature was of a fun loving and extremely affectionate child and also expressed a liking for young Jackie Cooper, much to the actor's terror.
Schlitze also appeared briefly in a carnival scene of Columbia's MEET BOSTON BLACKIE (1941) with Chester Morris.
After 30 years of exhibition, Schlitze's owner and manager died forcing him into an institution where the attendants never had the time to provide him with the attention he craved. Sam Alexander, a Canadian promoter, found Schlitze literally dying of lonliness. Alexander persuaded the authorities to place Schlitze in his care and he took him on the road.
Schlitze died in California during 1961 at the age of 80, an unusually long life for a microcephile.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Man Who Could Survive Being Impaled by a Sword

Mirin_Dajo_promotionalMirin Dajo with rapier piercing his thorax from back to front
On June 23, 1947, Time Magazine reported from Switzerland on what it called the “Miracle Man” – a mysterious 35-year old Dutchman by the name of Mirin Dajo who confounded onlooking scientists, doctors and ordinary spectators when, apparently without any pain or internal injury, he was skewered straight through the chest with a 28-inch fencing foil. The skin on his torso appeared to bulge as the solid steel blade was pushed through by an assistant, but Dajo stayed stoic, unflinching. In the wake of the harsh reality of the Second World War, people were in search of miracles. Through Mirin Dajo, that is exactly what they seemed to get.
Long before the Jim Rose Circus came to fame in the 1990s, there was a single-man sideshow who put all their masochistic acts into the shade. Claiming he was invulnerable, Mirin Dajo became notorious for radical body piercings more extreme than any seen before or since. During the 40s, this living enigma was run through with sharp objects like spears and swords without suffering physical damage or even bleeding. How was he left alive? Was he, as some of the headlines of the time read, some kind of “second Messiah”? Was it just a trick, some kind of elaborate sleight of hand? Or could the truth be explained by science?

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

8 limbed baby

 Lakshmi Tatma is now six years old and has had life saving operation. The young girl was worshipped in her country and the ocals thought she was like a goddess because of her unusual medical condition.
She was believed by village locals to be a reincarnation of the goddess Lakshmi. At first her parents were hesitant to perform the operation whch would remove the additional limbs, however they quickly changed their mind after doctors advised the parents it would be difficult for her to survive into adulthood. The operation took a total of 27 hours to remove the remains of her parasitic twin. The parasitic twin used her body for nutrition and respiration although the young child was unable to move the additional limbs.  She has been featured on shows on television such as National Geographic and will require additional surgeries to correct her spine and feet which are pointed inward.
 Lakshmi has certainly lived quite the unusual and extraordinary life in her short span of six years.

Monday, 30 January 2012

A Woman with Giant Legs

IMandy Sellars, a 34-year old woman, from Lancashire, was diagnosed with a rare condition involving a progressive abnormal growth of body tissues called Proteus syndrome in May 2006. She was said to be born with abnormally large feet and legs, which continue to grow into hugely oversized legs at an alarming rate, making her normal life nearly impossible. Her legs are observed to be heavier than most women and wider than the average man’s waist. She has a clubfoot which has turned 180 degrees backwards, and her left leg is about 5 inches longer than her right leg.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Daisy and Violet Hilton

Daisy and Violet Hilton
The Famed Hilton sisters were born in Brighton, England on February 5th. 1908 and were joined at the hips and buttocks while sharing the same blood circulatory system. Both sisters also claimed that they could seperate themselves mentally.
Their unmarried mother sold the twins to their midwife Mrs. Mary Hilton shortly after their birth, then at a young age they were touring the sideshows under their adopted name.
After their guardian died and with the help of a lawyer, the Hilton twins managed to free themselves from legal guardianship and received $100 thousand in the ensuing lawsuit.
Although they claimed to dislike the life of the carnival, they were amongst the highest paid freaks on record, earning $5 thousand a week while on the road touring with circuses and vaudeville.
Daisy Hilton once told a reporter, "We don't mind having people stare at us. We're used to it. We've never known anything else."
Both girls had many romances, and both had been married and divorced to husbands who cheated them of vast amounts of their money.
Curiously there is no mention of their appearance in Freaks in any of their publicity releases, interviews or even in their memoirs. Their only other film appearance was in the exploitation classic Chained for Life (1950) billed as the Hamilton Sisters and the sequel TORN BY A KNIFE.
During a promotional tour, the sisters found themselves stranded in Charlotte, North Carolina where they found work at a Park and Shop grocery store on Wilkinson Boulevard. In their red and white checked shirts they would weigh the produce on twin scales for the customers. On the 6th. January 1969 the Hiltons failed to report for work and when the police were notified they were discovered to have died from influenza.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Zip and Pip

Zip and PipZip and Pip
Jennie Lee and Elvira Snow, also known as "The Snow Twins", suffered from microcephaly, characterised by abnormally small craniums which gave rise at the time to the term "pinhead". Like most microcephaly sufferers Zip and Pip were mentally retarded, but although based at Coney Island, they also travelled with the World Circus Sideshow for many years.

Friday, 13 January 2012


conjoined 249x300 CONJOINED TWINSThe earliest depiction of conjoined twins comes in the form of a statue excavated from a Neolithic shrine near Anatolia and it depicts a pair of ample women joined at the hip. In 700 BCE, the conjoined Molionides brothers appear in Greek mythology. One is fathered by Poseidon and the other by King Actor.
The earliest written account of actual conjoined twins dates from 945, when conjoined twin brothers from Armenia were brought to Constantinople for exhibition. They were reported to be well formed and healthy but were banished from the court until the reign of Constantine VII. One took sick and died. Surgeons, attempting the first separation in recorded history failed to save the twin – he joined his brother in death three days later.

The subject of conjoined twins was a popular one in the old monster texts. Pare describe thirteen individual cases including two sisters joined back to back, two sisters joined at the head and a pair of boys who shared a single heart. In 1560, Pierre Boaistuau’s histoires prodigieuses features a plate illustrated a pair of women – joined at the waist and sharing a single set of legs –depicted in an almost Botticelli flair.

There are several types of conjoined twins and they are classified by the point at which they are joined. The Greek suffix ‘pagus’ (fixed) follows each classification.

Cephalopagus is a rear union of the upper half of the body with two faces on opposite sides of a conjoined head. It is extremely rare and it is sometimes called Janus Syndrome. Craniopagus is a cranial union only and constitutes about 2% of all conjoined twins. Craniothoracopagus is a union of head and chest. There is only one brain, and the hearts and gastrointestinal tracts are fused. It is also known as epholothoracopagus. Dicephalus is a term that refers to one body with two heads and it is likely the rarest form. The ischopagus and omphalogagus unions are unions of the lower half of the body and constitute about 12% of all conjoined twins. Papapagus is a lateral union of the lower half, extending variable distances upward and constitutes about 5% of all conjoined twins. There is the pygopagus union – a joining at the rump (19% and also know as Illeopagus) and finally the thoracopagus which is a union at the upper half of the trunk and the most common (35%).

Just to throw some more numbers at you conjoined twins occur in once out of every two hundred thousand pregnancies and seems to be female dominant – with about 77% of all recorded conjoined twins being female. Furthermore, there has never been a documented case of conjoined triplets among human beings – but it has occurred in amphibians.

The cause of conjoined twining and what exactly happens inside the womb is still a big medical mystery. Aristotle, in his The generation of animals, argued that conjoined twins came from two embryos based on an observation he made of conjoined chickens – which had four legs and four wings, by the way. The creation of deformed chickens was quite common in ancient and even Victorian times. A simple vigorous shaking of an egg often resulted in abnormal births. Later, he amended his argument to the idea that conjoined twins formed from one embryo split into two. These two theories are referred to as the fission and fusion theories.

There are a lot of unusual question surrounding conjoined twins. Unlike traditional twins, conjoined twins share a placenta and a single amniotic sac but also each have one of their own.
The most recent theory surrounding conjoined twins is the most shocking of all. Many researches now theorize that conjoined twins are not twins at all. Rather, via a malfunctioning organizer gene –nicknamed Noggin, conjoined twins are one being in which multiple appendages are duplicated. Instead of growing a single head, for example, the gene sends a signal to grow two. Two bodies, two brains equals one human marvel of medicine.

Monday, 9 January 2012


BiddendenMaids1808 263x300 THE BIDDENDEN MAIDSOne of the oldest professional conjoined twins – to display themselves as a livelihood – were the Biddenden Maids. Eliza and Mary Chulkhurst were born in 1100 to an upper class family in just outside of Kent, England. The pair were likely pygopagus twins and most illustrations show them as such. There are a few anomalous images depicting the pair joined at the shoulders as well, however, this was likely due to an artists working from description only.
When one twin died in 1134, the remaining one is alleged to have refused separation, saying, ‘As we came together, we will also go together’. She died just hours after her sister.
 The twins were quite wealthy in life and left their fortune to the poor, a fortune that included 20 acres of land. The people of Biddenden were so enamored with the sisters and their gracious gift that until the early 1900’s an annual festival was celebrated in their honor. In a somewhat unusual tradition, the creation of ‘Biddenden Cakes’ – featuring depictions of the sisters – were common and a staple treat during the celebration.
While the festival is gone, a row of homes bearing the name Chulkhurst remain on the land the pair donated.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


THE SCOTTISH BROTHERS THE SCOTTISH BROTHERSLittle is known of The Scottish Brothers of the mid 1400’s (1460 -1488 being the best estimate) and, by the earliest descriptions, there is a strong chance that the pair were dicephalus conjoined twins – two heads on a single body.

The twins were born near Glasgow and were brought to the court of King James III at an early age. They spent their lives attending the court and lived there for most of their twenty-eight years.

They were very well treated and well educated. They spoke and read several different languages. They were renowned for their singing grand duets – one would sing tenor and the other bass.

It was said that the two often argued and physically fought, which was likely a very unusual sight – even more so than the sight of a two headed boy.

The cause of death is unknown; however they were most certainly mourned by the King and his court.

Friday, 6 January 2012


The Hungarian Sisters 183x300 THE HUNGARIAN SISTERS 
“Two sisters wonderful to behold, who have thus grown as one,
That naught their bodies can divide, no power beneath the sun.
The town of Szoenii gave them birth, hard by far-famed Komorn,
Which noble fort may all the arts of Turkish sultans scorn.
Lucina, woman’s gentle friend, did Helen first receive;
And Judith, when three hours had passed, her mother’s womb did leave.
One urine passage serves for both; one anus, so they tell;
The other parts their numbers keep, and serve their owners well.
Their parents poor did send them forth, the world to travel through,
That this great wonder of the age should not be hid from view.
The inner parts concealed do lie hid from our eyes, alas!
But all the body here you view erect in solid brass.”

Often called simply ‘The Hungarian Sisters’ Helen and Judith of Szony, Hungary were born on October 26, 1701. The twins enjoyed a robust career in music and were exhibited all over Europe during their scant 22 years of life. The pair were born pygopagus twins and Judith was considered to be the weaker of the two. Shortly after retiring and entering a convent, Judith died of an unclassified ‘brain trauma’ and Helen joined her sister in death a few hours later. The pair continues to live on thanks to the poem above – written by Alexander Pope.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

RITTA & CHRISTINA – Early Conjoined Twins

Ritta Christina copy 201x300 RITTA & CHRISTINA   Early Conjoined TwinsRitta and Christina Parodi are likely the best documented case of conjoined twining in the early 19th century. The details of their life and death, in the form of detailed autopsy reports, are well known. Their life was remarkably short, due in part to their popularity.
The twins were born in Sassare, Sardina on March 3, 1829 and were the last in a family of eight. The Parodis were quite poor, but upon the birth of the twins they spent their savings on a trip to France, with the assumption that doctors and naturalists would scramble to study the twins. However, upon arriving in France, the family had no idea of how to promote the twins and became increasingly destitute. They initially tried to display the twins publicly but were constantly denied by city officials. Eventually word did get out and physicians came to them. Unfortunately, constant observation interrupted the twins sleep and exposed them to chills. Ritta, who was sickly since birth and steadily growing weaker, quietly passed on November 23, 1829 while suckling from their mother. Christina, who up to that point had been both healthy and alert, died only moments later. They had lived for only eight months.

The pair was distinct from the shoulders up. But below the navel they shared one set of genitals, one anus, on pelvis and one set of legs. During autopsy, it was revealed that the viscera of the pair were transposed to each other. The viscera – heart included – formed mirror images of each other. It was likely this ‘backwards heart’ that caused Ritta to be so sick and weakly.
The twins’ skeleton as well as a plaster cast of their body is currently in the possession of the Natural History Museum in Paris. However, neither is currently on display.