I met hundreds and thousands of people, and none finer than the midgets and the Siamese twins and the Caterpillar Man and the Bearded Woman and the human seal with the little flippers for hands. I never asked them any embarrassing questions and they never asked me, and God, it was a great adventure.
-- Johnny Eck
Johnny Eck, "The King of Freaks" or "The Human Torso", was born on August 27, 1911 in Baltimore, Md. Eck was a half-man; missing the bottom half of his body from the waist down. As an adult, Eck would be less than two-feet tall. His twin brother, Robert, was born "normal" and, early on, their act consisted of Rob being put into a box that was cut in half. Johnny would then pop out and walk around on his hands to the horror and delight of the audience. Eck's career included brief stints in Hollywood, appearing in Tarzan (1932) and (most famously) Freaks (1932).
After his life on the midway, Eck moved back to Baltimore where he became an accomplished painter. He was married.
Johnny Eck died on January 5, 1991 in the same house in which he was born.
Johnny Eck's full name was "Johnathan Eckhardt, Jr." I always though it was sweet and telling that, although born second and with a terrible birth defect, Eck's parents chose to name him, rather than his "normal" brother, after their father.