The Man with Three legs; and Two Penises.

The Man with Three legs; and Two Penises.


  Francesco “Frank” A. Lentini was a three-legged Italian man who used his disability as a means of educating and entertaining patrons of the various sideshows he traveled in during the 1900’s.




  He was born sometime between July 1884 and May 1889 in Rosolino, Italy, and was one of 12 children. Lentini was actually a conjoined twin, however, in utero, Lentini’s body partially absorbed that of his twin. His twin was connected to Lentini at his spine, and had its own pelvis bone, male genitalia, and a fully formed leg. The extra leg protruded from Lentini’s right side, also having a foot attached to the knee. This means that the three-legged man actually had four feet. In total, he had 16 toes, and had two functioning penises.


  It’s believed that Lentini was examined at an institution for disabled children on the island of Malta. Photos from the era belonging to a Maltese Professor of Medicine show a child between the ages of 7 and 9 with Lentini’s identical condition. Because the third leg was so close to Lentini’s spine, doctors feared that if they removed it, the boy would become paralyzed.



  As a child, Lentini was embarrassed by his condition, and felt restricted by its presence. He believed he couldn’t play sports and do things that most boys his age could do, until he witnessed deaf, blind, and severely disabled children who had accepted their conditions without complaint in an institution in Italy. It was a turning point for him, and he decided he could have a fulfilling life even with a third leg. His third leg was shorter than his other two, so he wasn’t able to use it to walk, but he learned to run and jump, ride a bicycle, ride a horse, swim, ice skate, roller skate, and even drive a car.  He was able to control his extra appendage, and later wrote in a pamphlet about his life that the third leg actually helped him when he swam. “One advantage I have over the other fellow when I swim is that I use the extra limb as a rudder.”


Photo: unbekannt, Edena Studios/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain


  In 1890, a puppeteer named Vincenzo Magnano was touring Italy when he entered the town of Rosolini, Sicily, and encountered Francesco, who was six years old at the time. Magnano thought the boy would be an excellent addition to the Barnum and Bailey Circus, so he asked Francesco’s parents for consent to bring their son to the United States. They agreed on the condition that they could travel to the US with Frank, and after raising money for their passage, in 1892, the three Lentinis along with Magnano and his pregnant wife, made the one-month trip across the ocean to Bridgeport, Connecticut.


  Lentini and his parents moved to the United States when he was only 8 years old. While the possible profit the family could make lingered in the air, Frank’s father refused to let him go on tour until he had received a proper education. When he graduated from school, he spoke four languages, which is quite a feat in it of itself. After graduation, he was allowed to go on the road with his act, spending nearly 20 seasons performing between his time with the Ringling Brothers Circus, the Barnum and Bailey Circus, and even Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, as well as his own sideshow.


  While today it is frowned upon to exploit those with odd conditions, these side shows enabled people like Lentini to earn a steady income, marry, have children, and buy homes. It’s unlikely Lentini would have been able to do any of these things if hadn’t left home for a life in show business.


Photo: YouTube


 When Lentini performed in his side show act, he would demonstrate his ability to kick a ball with his third leg, gaining him the nickname the “Three-Legged Football Player”. He would also use the extra appendage as a stool, and would allow the audience to ask personal questions, including inquiries about his extracurricular activities and sex life.


  As I mentioned before, the man had two sets of functioning genitals. It was no surprise that this became an area of interest during his act, but not in a crude manner. He capitalized on this, selling a six-page booklet for 25 cents called The Life History of Francesco A. Lentini, Three Legged Wonder. He described his condition, discussed good hygiene habits, and included information about sex and procreation. The titles of the pamphlet’s chapters were: “Obey Nature’s Laws,” “Poisons Are Not Remedies,” “The Mother During Pregnancy,” “Illicit Intercourse,” and “Physicology of Sex Life”.


  His dual set of machinery worked just fine apparently, as Lentini married a woman named Theresa Murray in Massachusetts, and had four children; Josephine, Natale, Frank, and James. I hope all those kids came from one set of junk or the other.


Photo: YouTube

  In the early 1960s, Lentini moved 10 miles south of Tampa, Florida, to Gibsonton, where many performers went when they retired from circus life. The town was dubbed “Gibtown,” and was home to a variety of side show acts, including Priscilla the Monkey Girl, the Alligator Man, the Lobster family, and Dotty the Fat Lady. These performers were often ostracized in other places, to little surprise, however, they felt at home in Gibtown, and bonded with those who shared similar experiences.

  A performer for life at heart, Lentini was performing with the Walter Wanous Side Show when he got sick. He was hospitalized in Jackson, Tennessee, and died on Sept. 22, 1966. He was an unbelievable 77 years old, and was the most advanced age anyone living with his condition is documented to have reached.

  This amazing man thrived in the face of adversity, and will be remembered through history for his bizarre condition as well as his positive attitude. And probably the multiple penises too.


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Sources:

Wethersfield Historical Society

Mission Creep

The Human Marvels

Trivia Library