PT Barnum's Sideshow Performer Who Was Famously Known as the Living Torso

Yana Bostongirl
CircusPhoto byJonny GiosonUnsplash

Born in 1871 with no arms and legs, Prince Randian was a Guyanese-born American performer who was known by many names like “The Snake Man,” “The Human Torso,” and “The Human Caterpillar.”

He suffered from tetra amelia syndrome an extremely rare congenital disorder characterized by the absence of all four limbs. As a result of this, he had an abnormal appearance as this excerpt explains: "Standing under three feet tall, Prince Randian was certainly a shocking sight. His arms were no more than nubs that ended at the shoulders and his legs were almost entirely nonexistent. Dressed in a one-piece red and white striped suit, he resembled a caterpillar more than a man."

When American showman PT Barnum chanced upon Prince Randian during one of his travels, he wasted no time in recruiting the latter to be part of his famed sideshow. One of his most famous acts was rolling up and lighting a cigarette with just his mouth. He later taught himself to shave, paint and write as this excerpt explains: "More impressive yet, he would keep his razor and block, along with paintbrushes and cigarette materials, in a wooden box he said he constructed himself – it even had a lock affixed to the front."

In 1932, Prince Randian acted in the movie Freaks, a fictional film based on the true life experiences of circus sideshow performers, where he was seen lighting up a cigarette.

Not much is known about Prince Randian's background except that he was a Hindu man who spoke Hindi among other languages. He was married to a woman called Princess Sarah and together they had 5 children. They lived in New Jersey until his death in 1934 at the age of 63.

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