Inside The Tragic Stories Of 9 ‘Freak Show’ Performers

Published October 18, 2021
Updated February 14, 2023

Famous “Freak Show” Performers: Myrtle Corbin — “The Four-Legged Girl”

Freak Show Performer Myrtle Corbin

Wikimedia CommonsMyrtle Corbin had four legs due to a rare condition known as dipygus.

Born in 1868, Myrtle Corbin entered the freak show circuit at the age of 13 and was billed as the “Four-Legged Girl from Texas.”

Due to a condition known as dipygus, Corbin had been born with two separate pelvises situated side by side. With each pelvis, she also had two sets of legs. One set was average-sized, while the other was small. The two smaller legs were side by side, flanked on either side by the longer legs.

According to medical reports, Corbin had the ability to move her two inner legs, but they were too weak to sustain her weight or be used for walking — and they weren’t even able to touch the ground. Doctors also noted that Corbin had two sets of internal and external reproductive anatomies.

Known for her “gentle” and “happy” disposition, Corbin became a very popular sideshow performer — earning up to $450 per week.

Eventually, P.T. Barnum heard about the “four-legged girl” and decided to hire her for his show, introducing her to an even larger audience across America.

Corbin worked for Barnum for about four years. During that time, she became so famous that other circuses and freak shows began to feature phony four-legged people in an attempt to replicate her success.

Myrtle Corbin Family

Wikimedia CommonsMyrtle Corbin with her husband and one of her daughters.

Following her successful circus career, Corbin married James Clinton Bicknell at the age of 19.

She eventually went on to have five children, living a relatively quiet life in her later years. Sadly, Corbin died of a skin infection just six days short of her 60th birthday in 1928.

After she was buried, her family covered her casket in concrete out of fear that grave robbers would steal her corpse. After all, physicians and showmen had offered large sums of money for her body.

But her loved ones refused the offers — and stood vigil over her grave until the concrete was set.

Erin Kelly
An All That’s Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she’s designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.