On July 7th, 1931 in Winnipeg, Manitoba Ernie Defort was born with a parasitic twin attached at to his sternum.
Ernie’s brother consisted of a headless rudimentary body with two arms and two legs. As such, Erie was billed as being ‘Two Boys with One Head’. Ernie’s twin was even given a name, and together they were often billed as ‘Len and Ernie’ or sometimes ‘Lester and Ernie’. The body was actually quite well formed with two arms and legs as well as two livers and a set of kidneys.
Ernie’s short career was mostly limited to Canadian appearances with Conklin Shows. In 1942 Ernie’s health began to be an issue due to the continued growth of his brother.
At the age of 12, the decision was made to amputate Len. Ernie was not pleased with the idea as he was very emotionally attached to his brother. He once was even quoted as saying then when spanked, he would prefer the bottom of his brother take the brunt.
He was taken to the famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester in December of 1943 where ‘Len’ was amputated by renown surgeon and sarcoma specialist Dr. Henry Meyerding, known more for his cancer research then parasitic twin separation.
Dr. Meyerding observed that Ernie was an ‘unusually strong and intelligent boy’ stating that his intelligence at 12 was more on par with a 19 year old. Furthermore, the Dr. claimed that Ernie would be ready to return to school ‘in four to six weeks’.
Ernie physically survived the more than two hour operation and reportedly suffered depression and some psychological problems after the loss of the parasitic twin he regarded as a brother. However he eventually came to terms with his loss and went on to live a full and well adjusted life, without the companionship of his ‘little brother’.
Frank Conklin believes that Ernie was married later in life and Ernie would sometimes return to the Carnival later in life with his family.
image: A reproduction of a 1936 photo card sold at a Coklin date in Vancouver.