The Great Frank Lentini

Frank Lentini adult posing

If you already know us a little (if not you can click here  😉 ), you already know that thanks to our work, Francesca and I have had the opportunity to meet many people. Only one of these, however, was the granddaughter of Frank Lentini.

It was 2016, and I was on duty when a woman approached me. She was American and did not speak Italian. My job did not require knowledge of the English language, but I managed to get by with it ? A few words were enough to make me understand who that lady was: granddaughter, Frank Lentini, The Three-Legged Man. Just a short time before, I had read something about the history of this man. I have always been a curious type, so I was happy about that meeting.

She had come to Sicily, precisely to Rosolini, on a special occasion. The city had decided to pay homage to her citizen on the occasion of the fiftieth year of his death.

The illustrious citizen was Frank Lentini, a naturalized American Italian circus performer.

Who was Frank Lentini?

Francesco A. Lentini was born in Rosolini on May 18, 1889, and was the fifth of 12 children. His birth, however, was not a happy event. The baby had three legs, a rudimentary foot growing from the knee of his third leg, a total of 16 toes, and double sex organs. According to doctors, the lower part of a Siamese twin was still attached to his back and only partially developed. They ruled out the idea of ​​surgery since the twin and the spine were connected, so the risk of paralysis in the lower limbs was very high.

‘U maravigghiusu

People began to call him ‘u maravigghiusu, a term that indicates those people who aroused astonishment and fear or pain at the same time because of their grave deformities.

At the age of five, little Francesco entered a disabled children’s home, and there he learned to run, jump rope, ride a bicycle, and even ice skate.

Then, at the age of nine, his father Natale decided to take him to the United States, and Francesco’s life took a turn.

Frank Lentini as a child with his father
Frank Lentini and his father

He began working in the Ringling Bros. circus, then joined the famous Barnum & Bailey in New York, where he remained for almost 35 years.

Audiences loved and knew him as Frank Lentini, The Three-Legged Man, The Three-Legged Wonder, or The Great Lentini.

People liked the way he kicked a soccer ball with his third leg across the stage.

But Frank Lentini was not only a circus star, he was also a very ironic man. When asked why he was born like this, he replied that his mother did not give birth to two babies. She gave birth to more than one, but not two 😀 He bragged that he didn’t need a stool to sit down, as he could use his third leg. Moreover, his extra leg was several inches shorter than the others, and his primary legs were also two different lengths. So he used to complain that even with three legs, he still didn’t have a pair  😅 

His sense of humor and his gentle soul won the heart of Theresa Murray. They had four children.

Frank Lentini lived until he was 77 years old.

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