People with non-typical anatomy or body features have long been a source of wonder and inspiration as much as a cause for worship and anxiety.
In the past, out-of-the-ordinary bodies were often regarded as evidence of either nature’s abundance or divine wrath.
As understanding of the unusual human body was not yet a study of scientific concern, people’s fascination over the fact gave birth to a once-popular entertainment form known as the “freak show” in which individuals with peculiar appearances, shapes, and behaviors were main attractions in exhibitions of human oddities and biological rarities.
Combined with newfound excitement in traveling during the mid-19th century, freak shows all over the world flourished. Freak shows used to be a staple in circuses, carnivals, world fairs, and even public parks.
It was not until about 100 years later, with the increasingly more robust emergence of medical science, people began to realize that the propriety of freak shows was at best questionable.
Freak shows suffered a significant decline in the 1940s and are not likely to rebound, but not before they brought some of the most bizarre curiosities of nature to the stage.
10 /10 Schlitzie Surtees - The Pinhead
Records of the true identity of Schlitzie (sometimes credited as Schlitze) Surtees are scarce.
One popular opinion says that Schlitzie was Simon Metz, born in the Bronx on September 10, 1901. Schlitzie was male, but he performed as a female.
He was one of Tod Browning’s 1932 films “Freaks,” where he played a “pinhead” character.
Schlitzie was born with microcephaly, a rare neurological condition that causes a tiny head circumference and developmental disabilities. On stage, he was often billed as the last of the Mayan or Aztec races.
9 /10 Chang And Eng Bunker - The Siamese Twins
Born in Siam (present-day Thailand) in 1881, the conjoined twin’s Chang and Eng were probably the first to introduce the condition to the public eye worldwide.
The brothers were conjoined in the chest and didn’t share any organ. They eventually traveled to American and Europe, performing in traveling troupes and sideshows.
Chang and Eng retired in 1938, rich enough to live in a Southern plantation of their own.
They had been so popular that P.T. Barnum brought them back from retirement in 1850 for another tour in Europe. Chang died in his sleep in 1874; Eng died a few hours later.