FRANCESCO LENTINI – The Three- Legged Man

circus freak Francesco Lentini three legs

Lentini was born in 1889 in Rosolini in the province of Sirocusa, Sicily as one of twelve children. Technically, he was one of 12 and a half children. His twin brother, who consisted of a leg and a set of genitals, was born attached to Francesco’s spine. While he was billed as ‘The Man With Three Legs’, Lentini actually had four feet as a small malformed secondary foot protruded from his third leg. Thus in total he had three legs, four feet, sixteen toes and two sets of functioning male genitals. Furthermore, to complicate his life further, all of Francesco’s legs were of different lengths.

As a child, Lentini hated his extra limbs and appendages. Doctors determined that because of their proximity to his spine, removal could have resulted in paralysis. Lentini was raised by his aunt after his parents refused to acknowledge him and she, meaning well, enrolled the young Lentini into a home for disabled children. While there he saw children far worse off than he. He saw children who could not walk at all and he gained a new appreciation for life. Lentini not only learned to walk, he also ran, jumped rope, rode a bicycle and even ice skate. His time at the home for disabled children was an experience he quoted for many years as his major motivation.

In 1898, at the age of eight, Lentini arrived in America and became an instant sensation. He charmed crowds with his keen wit and sense of humor. He wowed audiences with his unusual agility as well. He had amazing control over his extra appendage. During performances Lentini was well known for kicking a soccer ball about with the strange limb. As he grew older, Lentini’s performances focused on his charming character.

He would conduct interviews while propped up on his extra limb, using it as a stool. He fielded questions ranging from his innocent hobbies to the particulars of his sex life. He was also often asked about his shoes. People wondered if it was difficult to buy shoes in a set of three. Showing his mental sharpness, he always revealed that he bought two pairs and gave the extra one to a one-legged friend.

His charm did not go unnoticed and a young lady named Theresa Murray soon took a liking to Lentini. The pair soon wed and together they had four healthy children. Lentini continued touring until he died at the age of seventy-eight in 1966. His career spanned over forty years and he worked with every major circus and sideshow including Barnum & Bailey and Coney Island. Lentini was so respected among his peers that he was often simply called ‘The King’.

Image: 1. Card in author’s collection, obtained via auction.
2. The young Francesco Lentini.

Author, researcher and an expert of the odd, J. Tithonus Pednaud has been chronicling bizarre history and highlighting the lives of those born exceeding different for over a decade.

82 Comments

  • Reply September 3, 2007

    Jane

    I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Lentini several years before he passed. We chatted for quite a while after the show and I found him to be delightful and very kind to a young girl who was honestly interested in his condition. He started my life-long love affair with Special People, for which I will always thank him.

  • Reply November 9, 2007

    Anonymous

    My nana, JOAN LENTINI, told me a few years ago that i was related to FRANCESCO LENTINI.that’s so cool!! he’s like my great great great great great great great something.haha.
    -KAITLIN LENTINI
    <3 italian

  • Reply January 22, 2008

    Lentini

    I am the Grandson of Frank, My father was James…if any one has a link or relation let me know!
    J Lentini

    • Reply February 12, 2013

      Jolene. Foss

      I am the Great Granddaughter of Frank. My mother, Peggy, was the son of James. My son looks kind of like Frank.

    • Reply October 2, 2014

      SALVATORE SPADARO

      I’m Rosolini – Sicily- Italy . Frank was born here. I can give you information . studiospadaro@tin.it

    • Reply November 8, 2014

      Ed Discola

      Frank was my grandfather’s (Charles Lentini) uncle.

    • Reply November 19, 2014

      L. Edelen

      My grandfather, Louis, and Frank were 1st cousins (their fathers, Sebastiano and Natale, were brothers). The two families lived together on Court Street in Middletown in the 1910s/1920s/1930s. As a boy, my grandfather used to pitch for Frank. I recall Frank visiting with us only once (in Florida) but the stories and laughter went on for hours.
      My grandfather’s siblings have all passed. If there are any photos that may include the cousins from Court Street–particularly a photo of Sebastiano and his wife Guiseppina Maltese (Maltesi), I would be so very interested.
      L. Lentini

  • Reply January 23, 2008

    Anonymous

    I have an origonal oil painting of francesco lentini.

  • Reply February 23, 2008

    savona-ventura

    It is highly likely that Mr. Lentini spent some time in Malta, probably in the institution for malformed children there. A series of photographs belonging to a Maltese Professor of Medicine depict a 7-9 year-old child with identical deformities [three legs, one shorter with a rudimentary foot]. Malta is a island close to Sicily.

  • Reply April 5, 2008

    Anonymous

    this is total BS. none of this is true. honestly.

  • Reply April 6, 2008

    J. Tithonus Pednaud

    What is BS? The Malta story?

  • Reply September 11, 2008

    Anna

    This isn’t bull shit. There is film of his extra leg kicking the ball. It’s very old but it’s there. He was born in a time when fake legs couldn’t move on their own. Machinery was too bulky at the time.

  • Reply November 13, 2008

    P

    I would like to know where is used ti lives. One of my friend his liast name is Lentini, that’s why i’m interested in any things about Lentini.

  • Reply February 27, 2009

    LINDA

    I HAVE SEEN THIS MAN WHEN I WAS A YOUNG CHILD, AND AS AN ADULT I STILL REMEMBER HIM AS A GREAT ENTERTAINER AND A FASCINATING MAN.

  • Reply March 11, 2009

    jade

    i fill realy bad for him how did it fill to be him.

  • Reply March 23, 2009

    Jannelle

    I saw the comment from James son and Frank’s grandson. (J. Lentini) I think I may be your niece. I would like to find out if James had a son (Robert) and daughter (Margaret) born in Connecticut. My mother was adopted but found out her biological fathers’ name was James Lentini. If this is correct you would be her brother. I saw you posted this a year ago but i would like to hear from you. Jannellynne@yahoo.com

  • Reply April 5, 2009

    K. Lentini Radz

    Frank Lentini was my grandfather’s first cousin. My grandfather once told me stories about Frank and gave me a 1959 article from the Hartford Courant describing how Frank and his family were among the first from Sicily to settle in Middletown, CT (where we live). There are many links on the Internet associated with Frank Lentini. He’s even on Facebook! From all the articles I’ve read – it sounds like he was a wonderful man.

  • Reply April 29, 2009

    gabel

    to anonymous your ignorance shows when you make a comment. ps. great website… people need to understand diversity and how people deal with thier? (handicapabilaties)?

  • Reply May 8, 2009

    emengat

    any updates coming ?

  • Reply May 19, 2009

    emengat

    hm… funny.

  • Reply June 4, 2009

    AndrewBoldman

    I really liked this post. Can I copy it to my site? Thank you in advance.

  • Reply June 8, 2009

    moldmita

    any updates coming ?

  • Reply June 9, 2009

    J Tithonus Pednaud

    Updates are generally bi-weekly…when my busy life permits.

  • Reply June 10, 2009

    unknown

    wow! man that’s a leg!

  • Reply August 22, 2009

    L. Lentini

    He was my great grandfather. I am the granddaughter of his son Frank. My father was Jim. So interesting to read about him. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but have heard only good things.

  • […] image found here […]

  • […] image found here […]

  • Reply January 5, 2010

    Pam

    I think he seemed fascinating!!
    But I have a serious question…..did he have 2 emmmmm penises??
    Did they both work???
    Just Askin’

  • Reply January 19, 2010

    Julia

    I found one of his photos at an estate sale this weekend that is now on ebay. It seemed to be when he was first in US. I picked it up because I liked his wild plaid socks, then I noticed it had his name imprinted so I thought..he must be famous for something..THEN I noticed the 3rd leg! I saw a similar pic online but he was wearing 3 sox..in this pic he is only wearing 2. So interesting. Was glad he seemed so well adjusted.

  • Reply February 11, 2010

    Sally

    Hey pam did you ever find out about that whole penis thing?

  • […] thought of making it look like an adams family baby outfit, but decided that would freak mom out too much.  i thought of appliqueing an outfit right below where it would come when actually tucked around a […]

  • Reply March 10, 2010

    anonumos

    this is very intresting

  • Reply March 15, 2010

    Alice In Chains

    I have to comment on this….I just took 5 mins to research a 3 legged man whose image was used on the back of an Alice In Chains CD from 1995. I haven’t listened to it in 10 years and I was curious about the picture of this man…..so I stumbled upon this blog that seems to be brewing some real genealogical connections. All things considered, anything out of the “ordinary” freaks people out anyway. This guy had an amazing career as an entertainer by birthright, and is respected for that and obviously more. Very cool. Fyi…..the cover of the CD is worth noting; it’s a 3 legged dog. Man’s best friend right? lol :)

  • Reply March 16, 2010

    John Camilleri from Malta

    @ Pam I just found out that he had 2 penises and they both worked and he had 4 children

  • Reply March 17, 2010

    miriam

    This man frank Lentini, spent some time in the beautiful island of Malta when he was a boy. it is said that he had a very good sense of humour and he often joked about himself. Well done for all the information!

  • Reply March 31, 2010

    sylvana

    well in the 90s a local news paper had a big skoop. they showed 3 photos of Mr lentini. it was said he was cared by a professor in medicen.malta is an island near sicily by ferry only 45mins.i am glad that he overcame the obstacels of life.and to do that he must had used the 3rd leg!:-]

  • Reply April 2, 2010

    nana

    when I was in school I leared about him

  • Reply April 30, 2010

    Hollywood

    If i remember correctly, a close friend of mine is related to Mr. Lentini. Worthington Mass ring a bell to anyone?

  • Reply June 6, 2010

    Perrito.

    Today I bought a Francesco Lentini’s photograph at a flea market in Mexico, I didn’t know about him till today that I found the picture and looked for a 3leg man on the internet, this is so great. The picture is beautiful and it’s very old :)

  • Reply June 25, 2010

    Devorah

    I went to Fun Street in Niagra on the Lake for the first time ever. I saw the display in Ripleys……mesmerizing

  • Reply August 12, 2010

    Chase Lentini

    I am frank’s great great grandson. My father told me that he said it was mechanical by some pully. He was a good entertainer though.

  • Reply August 20, 2010

    Nick

    I’m just wondering, does anyone know, could he really control his third leg? Could he feel it, and kick from it, or was he in some way telling his brother to do so? I can’t understand how if it was his brother’s leg, he would be able to control it.

  • Reply August 21, 2010

    Daiirokit

    Mr. Lentini must have been an extradorinary person. It’s amazing how he learned to play soccer, and even ice skating! It would have been a cool experience to meet him. We should learn from people like this, that we can do anything. Disabilities and deformities cannot stop the human spirit.

  • Reply August 22, 2010

    Chase Lentini

    You mean strings and dummies cannot stop the human spirit.

  • Reply August 26, 2010

    Jeff

    I am the great grandson of Francisco Lentini..I have been looking for and information related to my great grandfather..I am the grandson of his son Frank..I have heard stories over the years and would like to get any information and photos of him…Jim Lentini and L Lentini would be my first cousins..

    • Reply October 1, 2014

      Dott. Spadaro Salvatore

      Hello . I am Dr. Salvatore Spadaro historical Rosolini , the city where Frank was born . I’m looking for prenti Americans. Here at Rosolini there are so many of your relatives and the house where he was born and his father Frank Christmas. studiospadaro@tin.it

  • Reply August 26, 2010

    Chase Lentini

    I am the true great grandson of Francisco Lentini.

  • Reply September 12, 2010

    Vince

    @Chase Lentini – I dunno if you’re a troll or you genuinely think it was achieved by mechanical trickery, but I find it impossible to believe Frank Lentini was a grift. For starters, to begin being exhibited at the age of 8 and then to keep up the con for the rest of his life through countless circuses seems unlikely. If it were fake, word would have gotten out at some point and it would have destroyed his career. Secondly, there’s several nude photos of him circulating (one in the reprinted version of Daniel P. Mannix’s “Freaks: We Who Are Not As Others” even shows his dual set of genitals). While there’s always been a degree of photographic trickery, at that point in time trying to pull off a con like that with primitive makeup and camera techniques would have been virtually impossible — at least getting the proportions right so each of the photos matched up. Sometimes people are born with weird deformities and I’m convinced that Frank Lentini was one of ‘em (and if he wasn’t, he still has my uttmost respect for being the ultimate conman).

  • Reply September 12, 2010

    Elizabeth

    I am distantly related to him! Personally I think he is awsome!

  • Reply October 6, 2010

    Laura Lentini

    I am his great-granddaughter, granddaughter of his son, Frank. There was no pulley, no mechanics it was all real. He had a parasitic twin and that is how he ended up with the additional limbs. My dad told me a story about going with him to take a pair of pants to the dry cleaner. He usually wore a trenchcoat to cover it when he went out in public. He asked the lady how much it cost to dryclean a pair of pants, the lady told him the amount. He asked if it mattered how many legs it had..the lady said “I don’t care if it has 3 legs.” The he handed her he three-legged pants and her jaw dropped. lol He also told my dad to never feel sorry for him because there were people much worse off than him.

    • Reply February 12, 2013

      HeidiK

      What a wonderful anecdote! I couldn’t help chuckling at his wonderful sense of humor. :D Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Reply October 8, 2010

    Chase Lentini

    Oh yes, the ol getting clothes washed free because he’d show them a pair of 3 legged pants.

  • Reply October 25, 2010

    Sandra Reale Hall

    My Grandfather was Frank Lentini’s brother. Growing up as a child we heard many stories. My Grandmother told me one day her, my grandfather and uncle Frank tried to get on the bus and were told there was not enough seats. Uncle Frank asked the driver if he could provide a seat could they all ride. The bus driver laughed and said sure, Frank let down his third leg and that is where my Grandmother sat.

  • Reply October 26, 2010

    Chase Lentini

    Good story.

  • Reply November 4, 2010

    Eureka

    The story of Mr. Francesco Lentini is also published on the Italian weekly magagine “Gente” (No. 44, published 2nd November 2010).

    According to this article, Mr. Pietro and Pippo Lentini (their grandfather is the cousin of Francesco Lentini) who live at Rosolini, a province of Siracusa of Sicily island (where Francesco Lentini was born) are wishing to contact with four children of Francesco Lentini; Josephine, Natale, Frank and James.

    Attahced is another article of Mr. Francesco Lentini’s life recently published at the Ragusanews.com.

    http://www.ragusanews.com/articolo/17157/L-uomo-di-Rosolini-che-aveva-tre-gambe-E-due-paia-di-organi-genitali

    I wish Mr. Pippo and Pietro Lentini will be able to see their American relatives…

  • Reply November 4, 2010

    Eureka

    I forgot to write the most important thing…

    Message from Mr. Pippo and Pietro Lentini on the article of the weekly magagine “Gente”;

    Chiunque abbia notizie di lui (Francesco Lentini), può inviarle all’indirizzo edilfiomsrl@virgilio.it
    (Whoever has the news of him, please write to us. The address is edilfiomsrl@virgilio.it)

  • Reply November 22, 2010

    John Lentini

    I heard he was a sex addict.

  • Reply December 2, 2010

    Tiffany

    Frank was my great-uncle. My father, Robert Reale, and I would love to find any relatives we may have out there.

  • Reply December 6, 2010

    brandon nulf

    Francesco Lentini is my step mothers great great great greta uncle xD

  • Reply February 5, 2011

    Jennie

    This has really inspired me and I’m going to fine as much as I can about him and his condition

  • Reply February 15, 2011

    chuyakzzz

    nice one
    I like

  • Reply February 18, 2011

    Amanda Johnson

    My Grandfather, Carl Anderson, traveled with Frank as a young boy. My Great Grandmother, Madame Labelle, was in a small traveling circus with Frank. My Great Grandmother would set Frank up on blind dates at the movie theater. He would already be sitting when the girl came and they would just stuff his third leg in between the seats. I have my Grandfather’s picture of him on my mantle. Even though Frank wasn’t a member of my family, I have always loved hearing his stories and every time I would visit my Grandfather I would ask him to take his picture out and tell me the exact same stories I heard before. I’m a cheap date.

  • Reply March 8, 2011

    BklnJeff

    I remember Mr. Lentini well, from my youth. I grew up in Coney Island and Mr. Lentini was one of the attractions at the Surf Avenue Circus Sideshow where he was featured as having, “Three legs, four feet and sixteen toes.” It was in the early 50’s…

  • Reply March 20, 2011

    Friedric Nebraska

    I think that he was a very strong man.I respect him.Is not simple fight against ourself and the bad ideas of people about us.

  • Reply March 27, 2011

    Luna

    BklnJeff,

    I hope you come back to the site as I’ve been looking for more information on venues other than Ringling Bros. where Mr. Lentini performed (or exhibited?). I was married to a man who claimed to have known him in the late 40s, met him on in a carnival setting, I believe. The Surf Ave. Circus Sideshow sounds something like how he described it, and I’m wondering if the show Lentini was with might have toured, and if so, if he ever played California. Anything anyone can tell me about this remarkable man from the late 40’s – early 50’s would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, Luna

  • Reply April 15, 2011

    Bruno Loyale

    Sam Alexander, grand sideshow impresario, was a dear friend of mine and worked with me for many years. He told me many stories of Lentini as they were good friends. Wish I could have met him. Sam said he was always joking and had a wonderful sense of humour.

    What a great website….congradulations……

    Somewhere in the Pacific….

    Tupa’i Bruno Loyale

  • Reply April 20, 2011

    BRENDA JOHNSON AMERSON

    I remember three legged man from my childhood. He and his wife lived in the same neighborhood in Miami, Florida where I grew up. He was a customer of my dad’s; he and his wife were very pleasant. Myself being very young at the time, I remember asking him how he could get the extra shoe for his third foot. Naturally, he replied that he would have to buy 2 pairs of shoes at a time. His back leg was very strong in fact he would sit on it, using it as a stool. When he was driving his car the leg came around his right side and lay on the seat beside him. They lived in a little cottage style house surrounded by trees and wild flowers. This was in his later years of life, his wife remained living in the house after his death.

  • Reply July 25, 2011

    Eleanor Pinder

    I would like to answer a few questions about Frank Lentini & hs wife Helen they were my neighbors for many years we exchanged Xmas gifts. Frank & Helen had a lovely country home surrounded by a white picket fence. across the streeet from my family. a large piece of property where they also had 3/4 small cottages where they would allow their circus friends stay for the winter Yes Frank could kick a football with the third leg & he did it many times with my husband ( when my husband was young) Frank & his wife were kind down to earth folks. Frank always wore a yellow slicker when he went out to shop so as not to draw attention to his condition. Actually I have a lovely letter & picture that he gave to my son as a letter of introduction to his family in Italy as my son was traveling to Italy to attend college approximately in 1974. Eleanor Pinder 310 NE 163 st Miami, Fla.

  • Reply August 11, 2011

    Katya

    Today I was watching part of a documentary which was on Frank Lentini. He was in Malta – Bormla – and a Professor/Surgeon was examining him to see whether they could remove the 3rd leg. Frank’s father wanted to do so since both in Malta and in Sicily there was an erroneous belief that malformed/disabled children meant that there was sin in the family and it was believed to be a sign of this curse. The kind professor decided that on removing Frank’s leg a vital part of his body would be compromised leading to his death. Therefore they decided to leave it. Lentini Family moved to America, and there Frank found fame :-)

    I am Maltese and just heard a good Maltese journalist dug that into this story telling all about it.

  • Reply August 12, 2011

    ed huston

    I moved into north Miami beach Florida in 1972. A couple of blocks away is where mr & mrs santini lived. I lived on 161st between 2nd & 3rd aves. I remember an overgrown parcel of land that was the santini property. I want to thank everyone who commented. I learned so much about an incredible man. What a wonderful story of overcoming adversity and finding love regardless of our handicaps, obvious, perceived or otherwise.

  • Reply September 16, 2011

    Nader Abou Jaoude

    weird……

  • Reply September 20, 2011

    Bon Tislington

    How the hell are so many people related to Francesco Lentini? He must have been using all sets of genitals all the time, as must the rest of his family. What a man!

  • Reply October 23, 2011

    marta

    hola!! conocía parte de la historia de Lentini, porque tuve en mi poder durante unos años una foto suya por ser el pariente de mi esposo.
    leer este artículo me permitió saber más sobre su vida.

  • Reply November 24, 2011

    haley allen

    how come every one belives this but not annas life im related to her ya know

  • Reply December 31, 2011

    humberto

    Hola la verdad que llegue a conocer a esta persona tan famosa en su epoca, solo por estar buscando datos de mi abuelo que se llamaba igual Francesco Lentini y con la coincidencia de pocos años de diferencia en su nacimiento y exactamente en el mismo lugar,osea familar de mi abuelo materno. Bueno la verdad que es muy lindo encontrarse con cosas asi y desde Argentina saludos a su familia.

  • […] http://thehumanmarvels.com/?p=63 Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  • Reply February 8, 2012

    Ryan Vanderburg

    He is my great-great grandfather. His son Frank is my grandmother Phyllis’s dad. If I have any relatives on here yall should let me know, it’d be nice to talk.
    jerryearlclark@yahoo.com
    tarheels.1@hotmail.com
    thanks.

  • […] It turned out that Hodge was faking the illness, and that he just wanted to be like his hero, the famous “quad-baller” Francesco Lentini. Despite being a eunuch, Ellis has continued to play as tough as ever. However, now when people say […]

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  • Reply July 8, 2013

    M Lentini

    A couple of days ago my dad told me that I was related to Francisco and I went on Google and i searched him but then I came to this website and i am surprised that i am related to most of you people.

  • Reply December 12, 2013

    Jim

    I am trying to establish if Frank and Theresa Lentine lived in Wethersfield CT. Can anyone confirm or deny?

  • Reply June 1, 2014

    Davie Chiropractors

    Can I just say what a relief to find an individual
    who truly knows what they’re talking about on the web. You actually realize how to
    bring a problem to light and make it important.
    More and more people have to read this and understand this side of the story.
    I was surprised you aren’t more popular given that you certainly have the gift.

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