Although later known as "The Three Legged Man, " Frank actually had several additional body parts. These included a full-sized leg extending from his right hip, another foot protruding from his third leg's knee, and a second set of male genitals. At four months old, his parents, Natale and Giovanna, took him to a specialist to determine the possibility of amputating his third leg. However, the specialist determined that Frank was, in fact, conjoined to a parasitic twin.
His third leg was attached to his spine, making it impossible to remove. Barnum was already exhibiting a three-legged man, the German-born George Lippert. But Frank soon eclipsed Lippert in popularity. While he was still a boy, Frank began touring with the Ringling Brothers. In 1906, he debuted with P.
Barnum's circus at Madison Square Garden. Promotional posters called him The Three Legged Sicilian, The Greatest Medical Wonder of All Time, or just The Great Lentini.
When Frank Lentini joined the circus, he quickly became one of America's most popular sideshow performers, along with The Bearded Lady, General Tom Thumb, and The Elephant Man. Today, we would consider the practice of exhibiting people with physical deformities to be exploitive. But the circus offered Frank and other sideshow performers not just the opportunity to make a living but also to become a celebrity. During his career, Frank toured with every major circus in America as well as Coney Island sideshows.
He became so successful he even toured as his own headlining act. In 1935, Frank and Theresa separated. He lived with another woman, Helen Shupe, for the remainder of his days. Lentini died in 1966 from lung failure at the age of 77.
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