Today is the birthday of Sealo, the Seal Boy (Stanley Berent, 1899-1980). It is unknown technically what condition he suffered from to produce his flipper-like appendages; he was born a half century before the rash of thalidomide-related birth defects of the Cold War era. According to lore, he was discovered while working as a paper boy. He is said to have had an engaging, warm personality and worked all the major existing sideshows of his day before he finally retired in 1976.
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.