Johnny Eck: King of the Freaks

May 11, 2009

Johnny “The Half Boy” Eck, legendary sideshow performer, was born without the lower half of his torso, and starred in Tod Browning’s classic flick, Freaks (1932). Eck once famously remarked, “If I want to see freaks, I can just look out the window.” Born in Baltimore in 1911, Johnny Eck (real name: Johnny Eckhardt) was born without a body below the waist and had a normal twin brother named Robert. Johnny joined the freak show circuit at the tender age of 12 and soon earned the title, “King of the Freaks.” In addition to Freaks, Johnny appeared in Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), Tarzan Escapes (1936) and Tarzan’s Secret Treasure (1941). Johnny and Robert toured the country as part of a famous magic show, performing a routine where Johnny was sawed in half much to the horror of many theatergoers. According to reports, Johnny had a genius IQ and was a highly talented painter, musician and gymnast. Johnny died of a heart attack in 1991. He is buried in Greenmount Cemetery in Baltimore alongside his brother.


Welcome to the Freak Show!

May 11, 2009

“I am convinced that the only people worthy of consideration in this world are the unusual ones. For the common folk are like the leaves of a tree, and live and die unnoticed.” 
—The Scarecrow of Oz, from The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum, quoted in Freaks: We Who are Not As Others by Daniel P. Mannix