Published 2018-01-15
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The real story of P.T. Barnum's "freaks"!

P. T. Barnum is a mythical character in the US. He made a place of entertainment for simple people, a wide audience, which was a great attraction before the cinema spread in the country. The movie "The Greatest Showman" is not a biography of this character, but an inspiration to create a pay tribute to the idea that the creator propagated. As we can watch in the film his Circus was the place of "celebration of humanity, where everyone is equal".

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And so it was in the real life. He promoted humans, that were called "freaks", but he made them not only famous and prosper but also gave them a home. Of course, Barnum's exploitation of this extraordinary people was and still is criticized by many but his contribution to the imperial culture of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is huge. Today we present the fascinating tales of the lives of the "freaks" from Barnum's Circus themselves.

Check all the original cast of Circus on the NEXT page!

1. Myrtle Corbin, The Four-Legged Woman

Myrtle Corbin came from Tennessee and was born in 1868 as a dipygus. It means she was a person who from the navel down had two of everything, like two pelvises and four legs. First, she was showed around the country by her father, then, when she was 13 or 14, he signed her to the Barnum and Bailey's Circus. She got paid about $250 a week and was very popular, and people were mainly interested in her reproductive and sensual abnormalities, but she never was asked to show it. She left the place in 1886, got married and had children. After 13 years, she returned to the circus.

2. General Tom Thumb

Charles Sherwood Stratton was born in Connecticut and was found by P.T. Barnum when he was 5 years old but then he was under two feet tall. Circus creator called him
the eleven-year-old "General Tom Thumb." He was very popular among the audience and had fans like Queen Victoria. He became a star who made Barnum and himself very wealthy. General Tom Thumb in 1863 married another little-person Lavinia Warren, who also worked for Barnum. The wedding of this extraordinary couple was a huge event in Manhattan and it is said that the guests paid Barnum for the honor of attending it.

Read more amazing stories on the NEXT page!

3. Madame Clofullia, The Bearded Lady

Her real name was Josephine Boisdechêne and she came from Switzerland. From a very young age, she struggled with excessive hair growth, having a beard by the age of 2 and 2-inch facial hair by age 8. When she was 20 she got married to an artist Fortuna Clofullia and had two children with him, however, one of them died as an infant. Shortly after marriage, she started to work in Barnum's American Museum as Madame Clofullia "The Bearded Lady". People claimed that she was actually a man only dressed up as women.

4. Captain Costentenus, The Tattooed Prince

George Costentenus was the most famous tattooed man in the history of American sideshows. He was Greek-Albanian and had 388 Burmese tattoos over his entire body, including crevices and genitals. The only parts that were not inked were a nose, ears, and the bottoms of his feet. He was presented in Circus as Captain George Constentenus, the Tattooed Greek Prince. Once he claimed that he was tattooed a punishment "for engaging in rebellion" against the "Chinese Tartary King," another time he said that his ink was made against his will by savage women. We will never know the truth...

Who else was famous in P. T. Barnum's place? Find out on the NEXT page!

5. Feodor Jeftichew, Dog Boy

Feodor Jeftichew was born in Russia in 1868. He was suffering from hypertrichosis, which causes that person looks like an animal, because of excessive hair growth. He toured with his father who also had excessive hairiness and in 1884 they joined a Barnum's show. He was shown as a wild savage who attacks his father, he was barking, growling, and acting like an angry dog. He had a lot of fans and was known as Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy.

6. Chang Yu Sing, The Chinese Giant, With The Dwarf Chung Mow

He was born in China in 1845 and moved to England in 1864. For two years he toured there with a dwarf Chung. Then in 1881 P.T. Barnum brought them to the US. Chang Yu Sing was about 7 feet 9 inches tall and as a "The Chinese Giant and the Tallest Man on Earth" led the crew. He was paid $600 per week and it is said he was intelligent, wealthy, and supposedly had tremendous strength. Eventually, he went back to England, got married and had two children. After him, there were other giants in the show.

Check more on the NEXT page!

7. Madam Yucca And Sandwina, Strongwomen

Kate Sandwina was born as Kate Bambach in Vienna in 1884. she named herself "Sandwina" after she defeated in a lifting contest a famous bodybuilder Eugen Sandow. She joined the Barnum's Circus in 1911, where she was lifting her husband over her head with one arm and at the same time lifting other objects with the other. She was presented as "the Strongest Woman On Earth" or the "Female Hercules."

1. Myrtle Corbin, The Four-Legged Woman

8. Millie And Christine McCoy, The Carolina Twins

Millie And Christine McCoy were born in North Carolina in 1851. People have taken them as a one person while in the medical statement we can read that they were united at the lateral, posterior portion of the pelvis, the sacrum and the coccyx joined, and their the lower part of the spinal cord united. They were shown around for more than a decade, kidnapped twice and brought back and again toured around the US and the World, mostly with Barnum's crew. The twins impressed Queen Victoria so much that she gave them diamond hairpins. It is said that they were cheerful, talented and educated.

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