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Francesco “Frank” Lentini (May 18, 1889 − September 21, 1966) was an Italian-American sideshow performer who toured with numerous circuses. Born with a parasitic twin, Lentini had three legs.
Lentini was born on 9 Gintoli Street, Rosolini, Sicily, on May 18, 1889, to farmers Natale and Giovanna Falco. Delivered by midwife Maria Alberino, he was the fifth of twelve children (seven sisters and five brothers) in his family. Disgraced initially, his parents gave him into the care of the wife of uncle Corrido Falco. At four months old he was sent to be examined by a specialist in Naples. By age 5 he was playing with other children and was able to straighten his third leg but not walk. He became known for having three legs, four feet, and two sets of genitals.
Lentini was born with a parasitic twin. The twin was attached to his body at the base of his spine and consisted of a pelvis bone, a rudimentary set of male Instruments, and a full-sized leg extending from the right side of his hip, with a small foot protruding from its knee.
He was exhibited in numerous cities including (from 1897) London. When he was eight, Mantano, a man who ran a traveling puppet show, brought him to Middleton and Lentini’s family moved to the United States. Lentini then entered the sideshow business as The Great Lentini, joining the Ringling Brothers Circus. He gained US citizenship at the age of 30. His career spanned over forty years and he worked with every major circus and sideshow including Barnum and Bailey and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Lentini was so respected among his peers that he was often called “The King”.
In his youth, Lentini used his third leg to kick a football across the stage — hence his show name the Three-Legged Football Player. By the time he was six, Lentini’s normal legs were slightly different in length: one was 39 inches and the other 38 inches. The third leg was only 36 inches and the foot on it was clubbed. As an adult, his primary legs were also two different lengths while his extra leg was several inches shorter. He complained that, even with three legs, he still did not have a pair. In 1907 he married Theresa Murray, three years younger than he, and they had four children: Giuseppina (Josephine), Natale (Ned), Francesco (Frank) Junior, and Giacomo (James). When Frank and Theresa separated around 1935 he began a new life with Helen Shupe, with whom he lived until his death. Lentini died of lung failure in Jackson, Tenneesee, on September 21, 1966, at the age of 77.
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