Sideshow performer Francesco Lentini (July 8, 1884 September 22, 1966) was an Italian-American who earned the nickname “The Great Lentini.” To say the least, he had an odd deformity. Equipped with three legs, four feet, a total of sixteen toes, and two sets of functioning male sexual organs, it is no surprise that this man was a curiosity and famous entertainer for several decades.
Lentini’s Bizarre Deformity
Lentini had a deformity that was caused by a partially absorbed conjoined twin. His conjoined twin was attached at the base of his spine. Although Lentini wanted his unusual condition corrected, doctors determined that because of the proximity of his extra appendages to his spine, surgery would have been too risky. There was a high chance that removal could have resulted in paralysis.
Features Of Lentini’s Twin
1. A pelvis bone.
2. A rudimentary, but functioning set of male genitalia.
3. A full-sized leg (which Lentini had control over) extending from the right side of his body. Although Lentini did had a pair of normal legs, they were slightly different in length. One leg was 38 inches, and the other was 39 inches. The extra third leg was the shortest at just 36 inches.
4. A small clubbed foot, which was attached to his extra knee.
For a similar article regarding parasitic twins, read our post called Rudy Santos: The Octoman.
Lentini In The Early Years
Frank Lentini was born in Rosolini, Sicily. He had five brothers and seven sisters. Some sources say his parents gave him up to his aunt. Lentini’s aunt believed it was best to send him to live in a home for disabled children. Although he dealt with more disabilities than most children could ever imagine, after seeing what others in the home were dealing with, Lentini began to appreciate what he really had. According to one source, Lentini’s experience in the home was his motivation.
While living in the home for disabled children, not only did Lentini learn to appreciate life, but he also learned a variety of fun activities such as jump roping, bicycling, and eventually ice skating. Little did he know that he would soon be on his way to a very successful career as a showman.
A Long Career As A Sideshow Performer
At the young age of 8, Lentini moved to the United States with his family. He began his career working at the Ringling Brothers Circusm, which he performed as “The Great Lentini.” He also worked with other major sideshows and circuses including Barnum and Bailey, and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show (advertisement shown below). He was a performer in the business for over 40 years.
The Adult Years
At the age of 30, Lentini was finally given his US citizenship. During his career as an entertainer, he eventually met a woman named Theresa Murray who was three years younger than him. They fell in love, got married, and had four children. Fortunately, all of Lentini’s children were healthy.
Various Nicknames Given To Lentini
Besides being called “The Great Lentini,” Francesco Lentini also had another show name. He was also called the “Three-Legged Football Player.” This was due to his ability to kick a football across the stage using his third leg. Despite living with an abnormality, Lentini was well-respected and admired by his peers. In fact, he was respected so much that they would often call him “The King.”
To entertain big crowds at the sideshow, Lentini would often kick a soccer ball using his third limb. According to TheHumanMarvels.com, he would also tell curious spectators that instead of purchasing one pair of shoes, he would buy two pairs. Of course, the reason was that he needed a shoe for his third leg. He claimed to have given the extra shoe to a friend who had just one leg.
On September 22, 1966, Lentini died of respiratory failure in Jacksonville, Florida at the age of 82. Despite his abnormalities, Lentini lived over a decade longer than the life expectancy in the 1960s.
Below is a video that shows several images of Lentini as a little boy, a young man, and an older man.
For over 40 years, Lentini entertained the curious. Although his incredible appendages may have caused him some difficulties in life, he showed the world that regardless of his unusual medical condition, he also had extraordinary talent. Lentini had an extremely successful career that many other sideshow freaks throughout history could only dream of. Even more, he had his own family, and lived a very long life. Francesco Lentini was certainty a prodigy that will never be forgotten.