19th Century

Facts And Stories About Frank Lentini, The 'Three-Legged Man'

Francesco "Frank" Lentini was a Sicilian-American entertainer born in 1889 in Siracusa, Sicily. Due to a congenital defect, Lentini was born with a third leg that protruded from the right side of his body. Despite the many obstacles his disability presented, Lentini overcame adversity at a young age by learning to use his third leg to educate and entertain others. 

At just 8 years old, the Lentini family immigrated to Bridgeport, CT, in the United States in search of the American dream. Not long after, Lentini quickly began to make a name for himself as a star attraction in the Ringling Brothers circus, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and a number of carnival sideshows.

In the 1900s, performers with disabilities, unusual body types, and extraordinary talents were commonly exhibited in what were known as "dime museums" or "freak shows." Both the Elephant Man and "The Great Lentini," as he would come to be called, were part of this unique community.