Circus Sideshow Acts: Who Were They?

By | February 8, 2019

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The Bearded Girl. Circa 1875, Portrait of Annie Jones, the Bearded Girl (1865-1902), who was billed by P T Barnum as 'the infant Esau' 1870s. Source: (Blank Archives/Getty Images)

The Bearded Girl

Annie Jones began her sideshow career at the age of one. P.T. Barnum had her in his American Museum show. Since she was so popular, Barnum paid her parents $150 per week to be under contract with his circus. Annie was kidnapped by a phrenologist who wanted her for his own show. When Annie was found, the phrenologist claimed she was his own child. In court, Annie ran to her mother and with that, the judge closed the case. No one is sure what condition caused Annie Jones to grow so much hair on her body, but she used the condition to earn a living. She was also musically talented and her show would include her performing music. Annie Jones died of tuberculosis in 1902. She was thirty-seven.

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The four-legged girl, Myrtle Corbin. Source: (

The Four-Legged Girl

Myrtle Corbin entered the freak show circuit at the age of 13 and was billed as the “Four-Legged Girl from Texas.” Born with two separate pelvises situated side by side, Corbin’s four individual legs made her a very popular “oddity.” She had the ability to move her two inner legs, but they were too weak to sustain her weight or be used for walking.

Corbin’s fame in the circus directly led to several phony four-legged acts popping up in other freak shows worldwide.

After her successful circus career, Myrtle married James Clinton Bicknell at the age of 19 and went on to birth four daughters and a son. Corbin died six days short of her 60th birthday, in 1928.