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A congress of most unusual mortals

see them triumph over fate, nature and the judgement of man
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Ursula Blütchen – The Polar Bear Princess

The ‘Polar Bear Princess’, Ursula Blütchen, was born in Dresden, Germany on June 6, 1927 to an average working class family. Widely regarded as the most sensational animal trainer to have ever lived, Ursula’s unusual career didn’t begin until she was her mid 20’s. Initially hired in 1952 as a cleaning woman for the soviet…

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GRACE GILBERT – The Redheaded Bearded Lady

The redheaded Grace Hester Gilbert was born on February 2nd in 1876 on a small farm near Nettle Lake, Ohio. She was the youngest of four children and the only one in the family to be born covered in a layer of silken hair. By the time she was 18 she was being exhibited full-time…

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Sword Swallowing – The Most Dangerous Sideshow Stunt

Sword swallowing is arguably the most dangerous and misunderstood of all sideshow stunts. It is dangerous due to the physical proximity of cold steel to the internal organs of the performer and misunderstood as, more than all the sideshow arts, sword swallowing is commonly perceived to be the result of trickery. Sword swallowing is very…

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ZAZEL – Presenting The First Human Cannonball

On April 2nd, 1877 English-born Rosa Richter debuted a spectacular finale to her aerial act at the newly constructed Royal London Aquarium. The 16-year-old ‘Zazel’ descended into the depths of a cylindrical tube of cold metal and, with a great explosion, was propelled some 70 feet into the air and over the heads of amazed…

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General Tom Thumb – The Most Famous Midget

Born to a hardhearted carpenter in Bridgeport, Connecticut on January 4, 1838, little Charles Sherwood Stratton would go on to be the most famous midget in history. When he was discovered at the age of four by P. T. Barnum little Charles stood a mere 25 inches in height and weighed 15 pounds. His father,…

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Five Freak Show Freaks Who Should be Famous

There are a handful of freaks and human oddities who captured the imaginations of all who bore witness to their visage. This upper echelon of famous freaks consists of household names like The Elephant Man, The Two Headed Boy of Bengal, Edward Mordrake, The Lobster Boy, Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy and a few others. These…

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The Origins of the Freak Show – Part One

People who are visually different have always been subject to attention. In different eras these individuals were labelled as monsters, freaks and human oddities. It is human nature to speculate and obsess about those born ‘different’ and it is also in our nature to feel disquieted by their appearance. Freaks have always been studied, documented…