Francesco Lentini - the three-legged "king of freaks" who conquered AmericaBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/francesco-lentini-the-three-legged-king-of-freaks-who-conquered-america
The symbol of the island of Sicily - treskilion, represents three joined legs bent at the knees, with the head of the Gorgon Medusa in the center. Therefore, when a three-legged boy was born on May 18, 1889 in the Sicilian commune of Rosolini, everyone considered it a kind of sign. Francesco Lentini, the owner of a rare anomaly, should not have expected favors from fate. Fortunately, the man lived a rich and decent life, which was greatly facilitated by his intelligence, benevolence and painstaking work on himself.
Francesco became the 12th child in a family of ordinary Sicilians, whose incomes were more than modest. His anomaly is called a "parasite twin" and is explained by the absorption in the womb by the body of one twin of another. Even today, surgical correction of such a physical defect is fraught with serious risk, and at the end of the XIX century, no one wanted to undertake such an operation.
The boy, who was born with three legs and two genitals, was examined by local specialists immediately after birth and came to the conclusion that corrective surgery could lead to paralysis or even death. Therefore, Francesco's parents decided to leave everything as it is.
A special child in a large Sicilian family became a serious burden, so the boy's parents gave him to a childless relative for upbringing. She spent several months tinkering with the baby, but soon her patience ran out and Francesco ended up in a shelter for disabled children.
Endowed by nature with a lively mind and quick wit, the boy very soon realized that if he gave up, his life would pass in orphanages and hospitals. Francesco was surrounded by people without arms and legs, and he had as many as three legs, and young Lentini decided to make an advantage of his lack.
Without wasting time, the three-legged boy learned to run, ride a bike and skate, and even jump rope. But his main number was stuffing the ball on the move with his third foot. Obviously, fate, seeing the child's efforts, decided to give him a chance. Francesco's parents, in search of happiness, leaving for the ocean, did not forget about their son and took him with them.
On the steamer going to New York, an active and cheerful three-legged child attracted the attention of circus troupe artists. They immediately offered the boy's father to sign a contract for his work in their show, promising the young Sicilian money and fame.
Lentini Sr. acted more than reasonably — he signed a contract with the circus, but made an important amendment to it. The father's requirement was to provide his son with secondary and higher education at the expense of the employer. The offer was accepted and Francesco set foot on American soil as a full-fledged circus artist.
The circus owners kept their word and the three-legged circus performer had to combine study and touring. However, Francesco did not complain about life, because he understood that he had drawn a lucky ticket. The boy became a star of the circus industry literally after the first performances. The freak show with his participation was a huge success and Lentini was soon able not only to fully support himself, but also to help his family.
The posters presented Francesco as the Great Lentini, a "three-legged Sicilian", "the only football player in the world on three legs" and "the biggest miracle on the planet". He performed with the most famous circus troupes in the USA, such as the Barnum and Bale Show, the Ringling Brothers Circus and the Buffalo Bill Show Theater.
Francesco Lentini was loved by the public and the press, and not only for his extraordinary appearance and numerous talents. The artist was always friendly and witty, and also stood out from the general mass with good manners and stylish clothes.The manner of the artist during the interview to lean on the third leg as on a chair delighted journalists, and his jokes became jokes. Francesco had a lot of funny answers to the most frequently asked question regarding the choice of shoes. Most often, he replied that he buys two pairs of shoes in the store, and then shares them with his one-legged acquaintance.
Francesco, despite his disadvantage, enjoyed success with women. The first wife of the Great Lentini, the beautiful Teresa Murray, lived with him for a quarter of a century. The couple had four absolutely healthy children - Josephine, Natalie, Giacomo and Francesco Jr. Years later, the marriage fell apart, but the actor did not stay single for long and very soon married again to a woman named Helen Shoop.
After completing a long career, Lentini and his wife settled in the small town of Gibtown, Florida. This place was special, as it was chosen by circus performers and freak shows who retired. There were no residents in the town with various anomalies, so there was no unhealthy interest in special people.
Francesco Lentini, despite his physical disability, lived a rich and happy life and died on September 22, 1966 at the age of 77.