While some individuals are born with unique characteristics and others use body modification procedures to create themselves a unique persona, the man with two faces, Sam Alexander, was born an average man whose unique characteristics were the result of a personal disaster.
Sam Alexander – An Ordinary Man Becomes, Extraordinary
Alexander had aspirations of becoming an actor, so in his 20’s he began to pursue a career in show business. He was promoted to Chicago’s Shubert Theatre and his career path began to take shape. While the details are somewhat vague, Sam ultimately sustained injuries due to an explosion. It is said the explosion occurred due to his own carelessness. Instinctively, Sam saved his eyes by covering the upper portion of his face with his arm; however, his lower face bore the brunt of the blast. Unfortunately, Sam’s horror story continued: The burns around his lips and lower face became infected. The infection was so severe that doctors had no choice but to remove the majority of his lower face. The removal of his lips and skin left him with a gruesome appearance, which included a horrifying teeth-gnashing grimace.
Sam Spent 13-Months in a Chicago Hospital
As Sam spent 13-months in a Chicago hospital physically recovering, his mental scars were being created. His family members avoided looking at him when they came to visit and whenever a new nurse was assigned to him, Sam had no choice but to endure their gasps.
Following His Recovery, Sam Was Sent to a Home for Social Misfits
Once he was deemed ‘recovered,’ Sam was sent to a halfway house designed for individuals who had little to no hope of re-entering society. One of Sam’s physicians referred him to an individual who specialized in creating lifelike prosthetics.
The Creation of Sam’s Second Face
When Sam visited the prosthetics master the physician referred him to, a lifelike mask was cast. Once complete, this second face could be somewhat convincing; however, Sam was disheartened because he believed there was little chance for him to re-enter such an appearance-driven society and earn a livelihood.
Despite Sam’s Disfigurement, He Remained an Ambitious Man
As a driven, ambitious man, remaining confined was unbearable for Sam. As he read the newspaper one morning, Sam came across an ad for a sideshow that was currently performing in the area. The Pete Kortes Sideshow was set up relatively close to the halfway house where Sam resided. He attended the show and afterwards Sam introduced himself to Ringmaster Kortes. Following his introduction, he removed his mask to show Kortes what he could bring to the sideshow. Once unmasked, Kortes’ astonishment was evident as he was horrified by Sam’s true face: He hired Sam immediately.
Sam Alexander – The Man with Two Faces is Born
Now that Sam was working with the Pete Kortes Sideshow, he lulled the crowd by telling the tale of his heartbreak. Following his monologue, Sam revealed his face to the crowd, people screamed and many cried. In fact, Sam’s showcase was so disconcerting that Kortes began charging an additional fee to view him. He was billed as ‘not for the weak of heart.’ Some venues actually paid Sam Alexander not to perform.
Fame Found the Man with Two Faces
Sam Alexander, The Hero
Eventually, Sam created and ran a sideshow of his own. Sam also became a hero when he rescued the infamous Schlitzie the Pinhead from an institution to make him a star in his personal sideshow.
Sam Alexander Sought to Restore His Face
Although Sam’s disfigured face was his livelihood, he continued to undergo operations in an attempt to restore his face. All and all, throughout his lifetime, Sam endured 72 operations.
Sam Retires His Second Face
Even though these operations were not completely successful, Sam decided to retire his second face. He wanted to live out the last years of his life displaying his first face, which now resembled a patchwork of skin. In 1997, Sam Alexander passed away. To those who knew him, he is not remembered as the man with two faces, but instead, as a man with a kind heart who had a face to match.
Sam’s story shines a light on the reality that life can change in a split-second. While we all suffer hardships in our lives, special people like Sam Alexander are perfect examples of how tenacity and hope can overcome even the most devastating circumstances. After exploring Sam’s life, I now realize that Sam was never an ordinary man, but an extraordinary man who had yet to be born.
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