15 World’s Amazing Circus Sideshow Performers

Ellen Harper (The Camel Girl)

Helen Harper was born in Hendersonville, Tennessee around 1870. Ellen was born with an unusual orthopedic condition resulting in knees that bent backwards. Medical types would classify her condition as a very advance form of congenital genu recurvatum also known as “back knee deformity”. In 1886, she was the star of W.H Harris’s Nickel Plate Circus and often appearing accompanied by a camel when presented to the audiences. She was also featured in the newspapers of every town the circus visited. She was named “The Camel Girl” because her knees turn backward and she can walk best using her hands and feet. Ellen died of colon cancer on December 19, 1921.



Annie Jones (The Bearded Lady)

Annie Jones was born in Virginia and on July 14, 1865 she began her career in exhibition. She was apparently born with a chin covered in fine hair which her parents actually got horrified by her appearance. When she was more than a year old, she was brought to New York City to be featured in Barnum’s museum as “the Infant Esau”. Esau in Hebrew means hairy and according to Genesis 25:25, it is a reference to his hairiness at birth. It was successful that Barnum offered Annie’s mother a three year contract with a weekly salary of $150 per week and they accepted the offer. A year after, Annie was kidnapped by a local phrenologist who attempted to exhibit Annie privately but luckily Annie was soon located in upstate New York and was back in the custody of her mother. Not only she traveled with Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth, she also worked numerous dime museums.