Polycephalic (2 headed) calf postcard. (Via eBay)
Stephan Bibrowski,better known as Lionel the Lion-faced Man, was a famous sideshow performer. His whole body was covered with long hair that gave him the appearance of a lion; this was likely due to a rare condition called hypertrichosis.
Bibrowski was born in 1891 in Bielsk near Plock in Poland with one-inch hair covering his body. His mother blamed the condition on the mauling of his father by a lion, which she witnessed while pregnant with Stephan. She considered Stephan an abomination and gave him up to a German impresario named Sedlmayer when he was four. Sedlmayer gave him his stage name and started exhibiting him around Europe.
In 1901, Lionel traveled to the United States and started appearing with the Barnum and Bailey Circus. He toured with the circus from then on, occasionally going back to Europe. In his act, Lionel performed gymnastic tricks, and also spoke to people to show his gentle side that sharply contrasted with his appearance. He was known to be a perfect gentleman, and always impeccably dressed. He was also well-educated and spoke five languages. He settled down permanently in the US in 1920, as he became a popular attraction. He moved to New York City and was a fixture at Coney Island for a while.
By the late 1920s, Lionel retired from his sideshow career and moved back to Germany. He was reported to have died in Berlin from a heart attack in 1932 at the age of 41. (Via)
Fred G. Johnson is considered to be one of the finest sideshow banner painters in the history of the circus and sideshow world. He had a 65-year career of banner painting. He was the oldest living sideshow banner artist until his death at 98 years old in 1990.
I want all of these.
Krao aka The Missing Link & Farini
Liverpool, England, Late 1800s.
Daisy Earles – “Freaks” (1932)