30 Vintage Photos Of The Most Peculiar Circus Performers

Published 4 weeks ago

Snapshots of circus performers from the subreddit “r/Damnthatsinteresting” offer a captivating glimpse into the world of old circuses. These vintage photographs capture the essence of a bygone era, showcasing the extraordinary talents and unique characters that once graced the circus stage. 

From unusual to whimsical, each image tells a story of spectacle and wonder, illustrating the rich history of the circus arts. Scroll below to browse these snapshots that serve as a fascinating window into the cultural and entertainment landscapes of the past.

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#1 Martin Couney Saved Over 7,000 Premature Babies By Exhibiting Them In Incubators In His Coney Island Sideshow. By 1943, Nearly Ever Hospital In America Had One Of His Incubators – And He Wasnt Even A Doctor!

Image source: husker3in4

#2 Ella Harper Was Born With A Rare Condition That Caused Her Knees To Bend Backward. She Had To Walk On All Fours, Earning Her The Nickname “Camel Girl.” She Made A Fortune With A Weekly Wage Of $200 In 1886

Image source: curioustic

#3 1899, Two African-American Brothers With Albinism Were Forcibly Exploited As Performers In A Circus. In 1927 They Returned To Roanoke And George Recognized Their Mother, And Screamed, “Willie, She Is Not Dead”!

Image source: Homunculus_316

#4 Francesco “Frank” Lentini (May 18, 1889 − September 21, 1966) Was A Sicilian-American Sideshow Performer. Born With A Parasitic Twin, Lentini Had Three Legs, Four Feet, And Two Sets Of Genitals

Image source: kalalalalkekeke

#5 Circus Freak Shows Used To Include Exotic Dancers

Image source: Masked_Daisy

They were called Circassian Beauties
They’d backcomb their hair to look more “exotic” & give an elaborate backstory about how they’re former dancing girls from the haram of a wealthy sultan. That way the show would be plausibility “educational” enough to get around legal loopholes regarding nudity.

#6 Chang And Eng Bunker Were A Pair Of Conjoined Twins Born In Siam (Now Thailand) In 1811. They Found Work As Freak Show Performers Across The World, And Both Got Married And Had Children In America. Chang And Eng Popularized The Term “Siamese Twins”

Image source: reddit.com

#7 In The 1910s, There Was An Austrian-American Circus Act Featuring Katie Sandwina, A Remarkable Strongwoman. One Of Her Notable Feats Was Lifting Her Husband Overhead

Image source: silvercatbob

#8 1920’s Circus Clown. Tim Burton Would Freak

Image source: reddit.com

#9 Circus Performer Jimmy Armstrong Having A Smoke Break. 1958

Image source: Altruistic_Jicama604

#10 “World’s Largest Woman And Smallest Man”, July 1922. Nellie Blanche Lane, 642 Lbs., And Clarence Chesterfield Howerton, 2 Ft. 4 Inches Tall, One Of The Munchkins In ‘Wizard Of Oz’ (Who Was 9 Years Old)

Image source: GaGator43

#11 Stephan Bibrowski, Who Had Gorgeous Blonde Hair That Covered His Entire Body From Head To Toe, Was Born In Bielsk, Poland In 1890

Image source: apple-_-boi

#12 Julia Pastrama, Or ‘The Ugliest Women In The World’ Had Her Body Stuffed Against Her Wishes After Death Along With That Of Her Stillborn Son By Her Own Husband So He Could Keep Making Money Off Her

Image source: [deleted]

#13 Maud Wagner The First Professional Female Tattoo Artist, In 1904. (She Also Worked As A Tattooed Lady For The Circus)

Image source: PerspectiveHuman3800

#14 Prince Randian, Also Known As The Living Torso, Was A Performer In American Sideshows In The 1930s. Born In British Guyana In 1871, Randian Was Known As The “Human Caterpillar” For His Ability To Crawl On His Belly

Image source: botcraft_net

#15 Krao Farini (1876 – 16 April 1926) Was An American Sideshow Performer, Who Was Born With Hypertrichosis And Took Part In 19th-Century Exhibition Tours In North America And Europe. (403×599)

Image source: c0ralvenom88

#16 The Man With A Parasitic Twin Growing Out Of His Torso: The Life Of Circus Performer Jean Libbera

Image source: 2_Blue

#17 Photo Of Joseph Merrick (The Elephant Man) Circa 1889

Image source: steelers3814

#18 Thomas Wadhouse Was An English Circus Performer Who Lived In The 18th Century. He Was Most Famously Known For Having The World’s Longest Nose, Which Measured 7.8 Inches (20 Cm) Long

Image source: Vijeesh7

#19 After The Death Of Her Husband, Mary Ann Bevan Decided To Enter A Contest And Won “Ugliest Woman In The World” & Was Hired By A Circus. She Endured The Ridicule Of Others To Give Her Kids A Better Life

Image source: husker3in4

#20 Unzie Circassian Circa 1900. He Looked Like A Total Rockstar!

Image source: LUX5454

#21 Lucia Zarate, The Shortest Woman In History, Died Of Hypothermia When Her Circus Train Became Stranded In Snow In The Sierra Nevada Mountains In 1890

Image source: Silly_Assassin

#22 Former Circus Performer Jakob Nacken (7,3”) Was The Tallest German Soldier Of Wwll, Here He Is Chatting With British Corporal Bob Roberts (5,3”) After Surrendering To Him Near Calais, France In 1944

Image source: Crowitiz

#23 “Madam Gustika”, Of An Ethiopian Tribe Where Stretched Lips Were A Cultural Norm, Became A Circus Attraction In New York. She Is Shown Smoking A Pipe During A Show In New York, April 12, 1930

Image source: GaGator43

#24 Charles B. Tripp And Eli Bowen Riding A Tandem, 1890s.

Image source: dannydutch1

#25 A Circus Strongwomen Balances A Piano And A Pianist On Her Chest, 1920s

Image source: Seahawks1991

#26 George Moore (The Living Skeleton) vs. Fred Howe (The Fat Man), Two Circus Performers, 1897

Image source: Seahawks1991

#27 The Hilton Sisters: Violet (Left) & Daisy (Right). Conjoined Twins And Entertainers, Born In England During The Early 1900’s

Image source: reddit.com

#28 Johnny Eck, Actor & Freak Show Performer Who Was Born Without The Lower Half Of His Torso, Posing With His Brother Robert In 1922

Image source: WildDog3000

#29 James Morris, “The Rubber Man”, Had Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (Eds) And Could Stretch His Own Skin Up To 46 Centimeters (18 In) From His Body Without Any Pain. 1880’s

Image source: GaGator43

#30 Isaac W. Sprague (May 21, 1841 – January 5, 1887) Was An Entertainer And Sideshow Performer, Billed As The Living Human Skeleton

Image source: justice15x

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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circus, circus performers, damn that's interesting, history, performers
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