(Coney Island): n.p., [c. 1920]. Wraps. 8vo. Bifold leaflet. Toned; lower edge sunned. Moderate edgewear, with creasing throughout and a few small closed tears. Small archival tape reinforcement at spine. pp. Very good. Very good. Item #23048
Biographical show pamphlet for Prince Randion, a longtime sideshow performer at Coney Island's Palace of Wonders and star of one of the most famous scenes in Tod Browning's FREAKS (1932), in which he was cast as The Living Torso (miscredited as "Rardion").
Randion (also known as Randian) was born in 1871 in Demerara, British Guyana without arms or legs due to Tetra-Amelia syndrome. Of the several sideshow performers sharing his condition, Randion was the most famous, with the signature trick of rolling a cigarette from loose tobacco, lighting it, and smoking it, as may be seen in his memorable (and only) film appearance. The brochure details this and other self-taught skills incorporated in his act, closing with praise for his "well-trained, bright and flexible mind, a characteristic native intelligence, a thirst for knowledge of the world and a desire to travel."
Reportedly recruited by P.T. Barnum as a young man, Randion traveled to the U.S. to begin a long career as a sideshow performer and would spend more than 40 years at Coney Island. The photograph reproduced in this brochure shows him seated on a stool next to his wife, known as "Princess Sarah," with whom he had four children; the family eventually settled in Paterson, New Jersey. Randion is described as 49 years old in the text, dating this copy to approximately 1920. Browning's FREAKS remains an empathetic portrait of the exploited and ostracized, one Randion's brief performance helped bolster. An ephemeral document from an iconic sideshow performer.