Prince Randian (circa 1879-1934) is best known today for his performance in the 1932 Tod Browning film Freaks. An ethnic Hindu born in British Guyana, Randian was born without arms and legs, due to a condition called tetra-amelia syndrome. He came to the U.S. in 1889 to work in sideshows and dime museums, notably that of P.T. Barnum. The multilingual performer could draw and write by holding a pencil in his mouth. He awed audiences by entering the stage crawling caterpillar fashion. For his “wow” finish he would roll, light and smoke a cigarette using only his tongue and lips. He sired five children with his wife Princess Sarah.
And now, his big scene:
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.