Biography of Three-Legged Wonder Franceso A. Lentini Part 2

About the famous three-legged circus performer Francesco A. Lentini, biography and history of the man.

FOOTNOTE PEOPLE IN U.S. HISTORY

FRANCESCO A. LENTINI (1889-1966). "The three-legged wonder."

When he was eight, Lentini's family came to the U.S. For years his father held off circus impresarios who wanted to sign the boy for a tour. Instead, the youngster was allowed to complete his education. When he finished school, he could speak four languages. Only then did he begin touring. He traveled 19 seasons with the Ringling Brothers Circus and the Barnum and Bailey Circus. He also toured with the Walter L. Main Circus. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and others, as well as with his own carnival sideshow.

Lentini learned to cope well with his extra limb. He could walk, run, jump, ride a bicycle, ride a horse, ice-skate, roller-skate, and drive his own car. Although he had full control over the limb, he didn't walk on it, since it was so much shorter than the other two. But he did learn to kick a ball with it, which was a good stunt for his act. He also liked to use the extra leg as a stool, claiming that he was the only man who carried around his own chair. Lentini even insisted that the third limb was an asset when he swam, for he could use it as a rudder. When someone asked him how he bought three shoes, he replied, "I buy two pairs and give the extra left shoe to a one-legged friend. So, you see, every time I buy a pair of shoes I really do a good deed along with it!"

As an adult, Lentini weighed 175 lb., and it was estimated that his extra appendage accounted for about 25 to 30 lb. He liked to say that he ate about 15% more than the average man in order to feed his extra leg.

Frank Lentini married and with his wife, Helen, and their four children--all healthy and normal--made his home for many years in Wethersfield, Conn. In his old age he moved to Florida, but he never stopped touring. He was traveling with the Walter Wanous Side Show when he fell ill and was hospitalized in Jackson, Tenn. There he died on Sept. 22, 1966, at the age of 77. Although other people with three or even four legs have been recorded, Lentini is the only one who is known to have lived to such an advanced age.

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