American showman P. T. Barnum was famous for popularizing the freak show back in the mid-19th Century, mostly through his array of freakish hoaxes. However, whether an oddity is strange or shocking, it has always fascinated people around the world. Unfortunately due to its exploitative nature such traditional forms of so-called entertainment have all but vanished mostly due to their distasteful style. Of course in this modern era of documentary television and viral videos we still seek out the strange and unusual. The fourth season of 'American Horror Story' arrives back on FX from 8 October and delves right in to the world of the 'Freak Show'. We now take a look at just a few of the most famous freaks which helped influence some of the roles in the new season.
Schlitzie is probably one of the most famous and visually striking sideshow stars. The New York born performer suffered from an unusual appearance which was due to microcephaly, a disorder that left him with an abnormally small and pointed cranium. Often promoted in the sideshow circuit as a 'pinhead' Schlitzie is the main influence for Naomi Grossman's AHS character Pepper. She returns to her role from 'American Horror Story: Asylum' in the new series marking the only character to date to have been reprised for more than a single season. Schlitzie of course also starred in Tod Browning's notorious and controversial 1932 movie 'Freaks'.
Evan Peters returns to 'American Horror Story' for his new role as Jimmy Darling, the lobster boy. And this was the stage name that freak show performer Grady Stiles was better known. Stiles was unable to walk and suffered from ectrodactyly whereby both his fingers and toes became fused together and formed a claw like appearance. Stiles himself had a much darker side and a history of alcoholism and being abusive to his family. In 1978 Stiles shot dead his oldest daughter's fiancé the day before her wedding. He himself was killed back in 1992 when his ex-wife and her son plotted to have him murdered by sideshow performer Chris Wyant.
Indian star Jyoti Amge is the world's smallest woman. Measuring in at just 2 ft and 0.6 inches the 20 year old suffers from achondroplasia, a common cause of dwarfism. The difference with Amge, however, is that she hasn't exactly influenced a character for 'American Horror Story: Freak Show' - she will actually be playing one. Amge was cast in the hit series back in August and will have a recurring role in the show. Although very little is known about her character, Ma Petite, at this stage it is certainly safe to say that in all likelihood she will be playing the world's smallest woman.
"American Horror Story: Freak Show begins its tale in the quiet, sleepy hamlet of Jupiter, Florida. The year is 1952. A troupe of curiosities has just arrived to town, coinciding with the strange emergence of a dark entity that savagely threatens the lives of townsfolk and freaks alike. This is the story of the performers and their desperate journey of survival amidst the dying world of the American carnie experience."
American Horror Story: Freak Show' will premiere in the US on 8 October 2014 on FX and from 21 October on FOX UK here in Britain.
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