The gentleman depicted is Martin Laurello, born Martin Emmerling, and he hailed from Nuremburg, Germany. He was an anatomical wonder, able to turn his head 180 degrees. How he accomplished this feat is unknown, however I have seen this trait duplicated. In fact, I recall seeing a video of a U.S soldier performing the same anatomical stunt to amuse his fellow recruits. In that video, it appears that the stunt is performed by twisting both the neck and the torso – that said, it is still very likely linked to a genetic trait. Without that predisposition, injury and perhaps death is highly likely.

Martin first appeared in the United States in 1921 though he had performed in Europe previously. Initially, he was tied to Dreamland circus but he also did stints with Barnum & Bailey, Ringling Bros. and, perhaps most notably, with Ripley’s Odditorium. His last recorded appearance was in 1945, with Ripley.

It was rumored that Martin was a Nazi sympathizer. His attitude did little to endear him to his fellow performers. It is likely that Martin burnt too many bridges in the sideshow community and opted to retire. No one knows what became of him, but it is rumored that he passed away in the 1950’s.

image: I have no idea. All over the Internet.

Edit: I’ve been informed that the above image is from Sideshow World.


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Human Marvels, talents,

Last Update: June 27, 2024