The man who would become Prince Randian was born in 1871 in Demerara, British Guiana to Indian slave parents.Despite being born without arms or legs he was incredibly self sufficient.
Randian was brought to the US in 1889 and, while he performed at many dime shows and museums, he gained most of his fame performing for P. T. Barnum. In front of the large crowds Barnum provided Randian demonstrated the ease in which he was able to shave, paint, write and even roll cigarettes. Not only was he able to roll a cigarette, he was also able to pull a match from its box, strike it, and light his freshly rolled cigarette.
Randian had many nicknames during his career. Randian’s typical costume consisted of a striped wool garment and his main mode of transportation was writhing about on the ground in a worm-like fashion. These two visuals led to his most common nickname – ‘The Human Caterpillar’ – and he went on to appear in a variety of carnivals and sideshows, including Coney Island, for a forty five year stint.
Randian had a role in the 1932 film freaks, in which he demonstrates his cigarette rolling skills and utters a single unintelligible line. Oddly enough, it is said that he spoke several languages including Hindi, French, English and German.
By all accounts, he was a bright and charming man with a great sense of humor. Both of these talents helped him land a wife and make use of his one remaining appendage.
He and his wife had five children.
Eventually Radian retired to Paterson, New Jersey and in 1934 he died at age 63 of a heart attack following a comeback performance.
Call him what you like: The Living Torso, The Snake Man, The Human Worm, The Human Cigarette Factory or the Amazing Caterpillar Man. Radian was a man who, despite his physical limitations, truly lived live to his fullest.
Update: As the film ‘Freaks’ is now public domain, click here to see Randian in action.