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The amazing life of a three-legged man

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Frank Lentini was one of the most famous circus side artists of the early 20th century. The life of this three-legged man was full of surprises.
Unusual child

Frank, whose full name is Francesco Lentini, was born on May 18, 1889 in Rosolini, Sicily (Italy). He is the 5th child in a family of 12 children. Although later known as the “Three-legged Man”, Frank actually had a few extra body parts. In addition to a full-sized third leg, extending from his right hip, he has another foot that protrudes from the knee of this leg and a second male genitalia. At 4 months old, Frank’s parents took their son to a specialist to determine the possibility of amputating his third leg. However, after careful examination, the doctor said that Frank’s condition was actually due to the phenomenon of parasitic twins. While still a fetus, his body “received” a part of the other twin. That’s why inside the Lentini there is a spine, but the pelvis and genitals, legs grow separately. His third leg was attached to his spine, and if removed, there is a risk of paralysis or even death. Frank’s appearance surprised everyone. Neighbors nicknamed him “u maravigghiusu” which means “weird” and “little monster”. Due to the stigma surrounding people, he was sent by his parents to live with his aunt and uncle. In time, these relatives took Frank to a home to raise children with disabilities. The boy noticed that the deaf, blind, and physically deformed children here did not complain about their defects. Frank then expressed: “Before, I thought I was the most unlucky person. But when I was at an orphanage for children with disabilities, I understood that there are many more unhappy people in the world than me. So life isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” Gradually, Frank Lentini adapted to his abnormal body. He couldn’t walk on his extra leg, but later learned to straighten it. Frank practiced running, jumping, biking, rollerblading, even swimming. He said the extra leg gave him an advantage when in the water, it acted as a rudder. Frank Lentini completed the program until the end of 8th grade with the help of Giovannina Brogato, an Italian-born tutor. The star in the circus Frank Letini – the three-legged man. A wandering puppeteer named Vincenzo Magnano discovered the boy Frank. He convinces Frank’s parents, their son can become a star in the circus. Frank’s parents accepted their son to come to America. First, Frank toured with the Ringling Brothers, then he went to Bridgeport, Connecticut, the winter headquarters of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. At the time, the circus had a three-legged man, George Lippert, born in Germany. But Frank quickly eclipsed Lippert in terms of his performances. Posters call 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 supporting artists, along with “The Bearded Lady,” “General Tom Thumb” and “Elephant Man.” Today, we view the display of people with physical disabilities as exploitation. But at that time, the circus gave Frank and the other supporting actors not only the opportunity to earn a living, but also become celebrities. As an adult, Frank Lentini weighs 80kg and is 169cm tall. He claims his extra body parts weigh between 10 and 13kg and often jokes that he ate 15% more food to fuel the appendages. On stage, Frank shows off his unique body and shows off his talents. He considers himself to be the only man in the world who doesn’t need his own chair and sits on his third leg as if he were sitting on a stool. His standout performance was kicking the ball with his third foot into the crowd. Frank also possesses a charming personality and quick wits. During his performance with a Q&A session, many curious fans asked about living with a third leg. When asked how to buy shoes, Frank replied: “I bought two pairs and gave the left shoe to a friend who is amputee. So you see, every time I buy a pair of shoes, I actually do a good deed!”. Life and career Frank Letini on a poster at a circus. In 1907, when Frank was 18 years old, he married a Massachusetts woman named Theresa Murray. They have four children, all healthy. At the shows, Frank sold a six-page pamphlet that tells his life story and gives advice for a healthy sex life. In this book, Frank advises pregnant women about a proper diet. He condemned adultery and promiscuity. He also discusses the causes and treatment of sexual dysfunction, among other topics. During his career, Frank toured with major circuses and became an American citizen at the age of 30. In 1935, Frank and Theresa separated. He lived with another woman named Helen Shupe for the rest of his life. His career spanned more than 40 years, until the end of his life he did not stop acting. In 1966, while touring with the Walter Wanous Side Show, Frank was hospitalized in Jackson, Tennessee. On September 21, 1966, Frank Lentini died of lung failure at the age of 77. In 2016, 50 years after his death, Lentini’s hometown of Rosolini in Sicily held a two-day celebration of their hometown’s special someone. In this memorial ceremony, many descendants of Frank near and far were also invited to attend.