The world was unprepared for the birth of a boy to farmers Natalae and Giovanna Falco on May 18, 1889. The fifth child in a family of twelve, Frank Lentini, was born. Frank was born with a parasitic twin that was attached to his body at the base of his spine and was made up of a pelvic bone, male genitalia, and a gull-sized leg that protruded from the right side of his hip and had a small foot sticking out of its knee.
He had an extra leg growing out of his right hip, and a fourth foot was sticking out from his knee. A second embryo that started to develop in the womb but ultimately was unable to separate from its twin was the cause of his disability. As a result, one twin began to rule the other.
Lentini was sent to a specialist when he was four months old to discuss the option of amputating his extra leg, but the doctor decided against it due to the risk of paralysis or possibly death.
Due to his additional limb, he was first rejected, and his parents left him in the safekeeping of his uncle, Corrido Falco’s wife. He was able to straighten his third leg while playing with other kids when he was four months old, but he was unable to walk using it.
He encountered kids who had much worse circumstances than he did after his aunt put him in a facility for challenged kids. There were kids who couldn’t walk properly, and it changed his perspective on life. He not only learned to run, jump rope, ride a bicycle, and even ice skate with his additional leg. He acknowledged his experience working with special-needs kids as his primary driving force moving forward.
He earned the nicknames “u maravigghiusu” (Corsican for “the marvel”) and, more brutally, “little monster” in and around his hometown. As a result, Lentini’s family moved him in with an aunt to keep him out of future trouble.
Lentini earned a living out of his uncommon situation of being born with a parasitic twin; he wasn’t ashamed of his third limb. He was also given the moniker “Three-legged football player” because he kicked the ball with his third leg.
As he matured, he became aware that his legs weren’t all the same length; one was 39 inches long, the other 38, and the third just 36 inches, with a club foot.
The Journey to America by Frank Lentini
On June 28, 1898, when his father travelled with him on a ship leaving Liverpool for the United States, Lentini’s life took a drastic change. He enchanted crowds with his sharp humor and wit.
Lentini first met Guiseppe Magnano in Boston when he was just nine years old. A professional showman named Magnano had been living in America for three years when he got in touch with Lentini to talk about joining one of his shows.
Lentini became fluent in English while touring the country and became well-known for his composure, intelligence, and unbridled pride in his physical abnormality. He accumulated a lot of fame and wealth.
Three legged man, Frank Lentini dominated the world of circuses.
Frank Lentini was already named as one of the Ringling Bros. circus’s attractions for the next year. This was one of the most well-known of its era, featuring a freak show in addition to Francesco that featured a big lady, an albino, a snake charmer, and a woman with tattoos.
He could skate, ride a bike, jump over a rope, and kick a soccer ball with his third leg, among other amazing things.He also possessed amazing control over his additional limb. When anomalies and disfigurements started to be treated as objects of public attention and fun at England summer fairs in the 19th century, Frank Lentini gained popularity.
The three-legged Sicilian, the only three-legged football player in the world, the greatest medical marvel of all time, or occasionally just “The Great Lentini,” were all titles used to describe Lentini.
In addition to being physically fit, Lentini was also witty and quick-witted. He was well known for using his additional limb as a stool when conducting interviews. During the interviews, he would have to answer questions about his interests and how he had sex with an extra leg and genitalia.
For instance, Frank responded that he bought two pairs of shoes and gave the third pair to his one-legged friend when asked if it would be challenging for him to purchase shoes in sets of three.
He was known to make the endearing joke that he was the only man who didn’t need a chair since he could always use his third leg as a stool because he had a talent for charming self-deprecation.
At the age of 30, Frank Lentini was granted American citizenship. He worked with every significant circus and sideshow during the course of his 40-year career, including Barnum & Bailey and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Lentini was known as “The King” among his contemporaries because of how well-liked he was.
Three legged man, Frank Lentini’s romantic history
Theresa Murray, a young woman, became attracted to Lentini as a result of his glamour. He fathered four children with her after they were married in 1907. At the time, he was also referred to as “The Three-Legged Sicilian,” “The Only Three-Legged Football Player in the World,” “The Greatest Medical Wonder of All Time,” or just “The Great Lentini,” and advertisements featured him dribbling a football with his third leg.
He moved back to his hometown a year after getting married to Theresa. At that time, he had gained notoriety due to those who inflated his life story. The residents of the town where he was known as “maravigghiusu” donned three-legged pants to display their admiration for their hero.
The couple had a happy marriage, but when they split up in 1935, he started dating Helen Shupe, who he stayed with until his death.
He offered a pamphlet titled “The Vital Truths of Sex Life” for sale.
For one of his performances, Lentini made use of the public’s fascination with his second set of genitalia. A Life History of Francesco A. Lentini, Three-Legged Wonder, a six-page pamphlet he had written, was also presented to the audience at this time. It cost 25 cents to buy.
Three legged man, Lentini explained his illness, covered good hygiene practices, and provided details on sex and reproduction in the booklet. “Obey Nature’s Laws,” “Poisons Are Not Remedies,” “The Mother During Pregnancy,” “Illicit Intercourse,” and “Physicology of Sex Life” were among the pamphlet’s chapter headings.
Lentini eventually won over Theresa Murray with his endearing persona. Josephine, Natale, Frank, and James were the couple’s four children; they were married in Massachusetts.
Frank wanted to amputate his third leg, but it was deemed too risky.
Since Lentini’s condition matches that of a youngster in photographs from the time period owned by a Maltese professor of medicine, it is assumed that Lentini was checked at a facility for deformed children on the island of Malta. Doctors feared that if they amputated the third leg, Lentini would become paralyzed because it was so close to his spine.
Lentini reportedly hated his third limb as a child and felt humiliated by it greatly. Its existence made him feel constrained because he thought it prevented him from participating in sports and other activities that most guys his age could. Lentini had to accept his condition nevertheless, given the risk involved in trying to remove it.
A Prominent Career
Lentini participated in sideshows for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the Ringling Brothers Circus.
Lentini’s village of Rosolini, Sicily, held a two-day memorial festival in 2016 to honor their unique hometown hero, 50 years after his passing. Any and all of Frank’s descendants, from near and far, were invited to the tribute.
Even though sideshows aren’t the main source of entertainment in the U.S. any more, people still find them interesting and even romantic.
For instance, the 2017 movie The Greatest Showman has a revolving cast of sideshow characters who are all based on real-life performers. Naturally, Francesco “Frank” Lentini, portrayed by actor Jonathan Redavid, made an appearance.
The achievement of Frank Lentini serves as a reminder of how magnificent and fanciful the American dream can be when it is fully achieved. One of the many reasons Francesco “Frank” Lentini was successful and happy in America was probably his attitude toward his parasitic twin, which he saw as an advantage rather than a burden.
In his older years, Lentini claimed, “I’ve never complained.” “I love enjoying life, and I think it’s lovely.” Frank Lentini passed away from lung failure in 1966 at the age of 77, rich and content.
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