7 Freak-Show Characters That Were Actually Real
We partnered with American Horror Story: Freak Show to share the stories of real freak-show characters.
Not everything is what it seems, especially when it comes to live acts and staged performances, but behind the upcoming season of American Horror Story: Freak Show, real-life attractions were actual inspiration for characters depicted on the show. Along with heightening the intensity of potentially wicked plotlines and unique oddities we'll be seeing, we're all wondering about other true acts that caused crowds to become entranced in the past. And we found seven that were truly amazing. Source: Amazon
Admiral Dot, the Eldorado Elf
Weighing in at 19 pounds, Leopold Kahn worked the sideshow tent in the P.T. Barnum's Traveling Museum in the 1870s as Admiral Dot, the Eldorado Elf. After surviving a pretty gruesome childhood, Barnum invited Kahn to work with the circus for several years before Kahn married and started a family in White Plains, NY.
Aurelio and Al Tomaini
Claiming he was the tallest man ever at 8 feet 6 1/2 inches, Al Tomaini spent most of his life as a sideshow act. He met his wife, Aurelio, who was born without legs, in 1936, and they happily eloped. Both left the circus to retire in Florida.
Chang Woo Gow
Known as the "Chinese giant," Zhan Shichai was born in the Fujian Province in the 1840s and was claimed to be over 8 feet tall. He traveled around Europe being featured on stage, eventually making his way to America.
The Giant and the Dwarf
Although we don't know the actual names of these two performers, it was quite typical for most freak shows to feature a giant alongside a little person in an act together. General Tom Thumb was considered one of the most famous acts with P.T. Barnum, drawing thousands of people to see his small stature.
The Zeynard's Troupe
The stoic-looking troupe looks more ready to bust into a serious rendition than to do anything jaw-dropping. But the Zeynard's Liliput-Speciality Troupe was a real act that dominated in the late 1800s.
"Living Doll" Anita
Twenty-two-inch-tall Edith Barlow was considered the smallest woman of the time and was made famous while traveling with the circus under the stage name of Anita. She was often mistaken for a child and loved to shock by sitting on bars while enjoying a stout.
Mrs. Baker B. Twyman
We already know we'll be seeing a bearded lady on American Horror Story: Freak Show, but was her character based on real-life performer Baker Twyman? After unexpectedly growing facial hair, she joined the circus to support her children while her husband was suffering from an unknown illness.
More From American Horror Story: Freak Show
Ladies and gentlemen, what you're about to see will astound your senses and harrow your very souls. Don't miss the season premiere, Oct. 8 at 10 p.m. on FX.