Francesco A. Lentini
May 18, 1889
|Died||September 21, 1966 (aged 77)|
|Height||169 cm (5 ft 7 in)|
|Partner||Helen Shupe (1935–1966)|
|Children||Josephine, Ned, Francis Jr and James|
Lentini was born at 8 Gintoli Street, Rosolini, Sicily, on May 18, 1889. Delivered by midwife Maria Alberino, he was the fifth of 12 children (seven sisters and five brothers) in his family. Disgraced initially, his parents gave him into the care of the wife of his uncle Corrido Falco. At four months old he was sent to be examined by a specialist in Naples. By age five 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 pelvic bone, a rudimentary set of male genitalia, 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 London, in 1897. When he was eight, Magnano, who ran a travelling puppet show, brought him to Middletown 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 40 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.
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 ended in a clubfoot. As an adult, his primary legs remained of 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 him, 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, Tennessee, on September 21, 1966, at the age of 77.
- Official website.
- Wallechinsky, David; Wallace, Irving (1975). "Biography of Three-Legged Wonder Franceso A. Lentini Part 1". The People's Almanac. Retrieved September 26, 2012 – via trivia-library.com.
- Barresi, Mario (August 29, 2010). "L'uomo di Rosolini che aveva tre gambe. E due paia di organi genitali". ragusanews (in Italian). Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
- Leibovitz, Annie (August 13, 2017). "Jonathan Redavid is The 3 Legged man Frank Lentini in "The Greatest Showman"". Jonathan Redavid. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
- Liner notes, Alice in Chains. 1995.
- James G. Mundie, "The Life History of Francesco A. Lentini, Three-legged Wonder" pitchbook pamphlet (with photos)
- J. Tithonus Pednaud, Francesco Lentini – The Three-Legged Man
- Frank Lentini at Find a Grave