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5 Famous Sideshow Entertainers


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Ella Harper
Because of her condition, Ella Harper preferred to walk on her hands and feet.  Public Domain
Because of her condition, Ella Harper preferred to walk on her hands and feet. Public Domain

Some of the sideshow performers we've listed were born with conditions that many of us are familiar with, like conjoined twins. But some performers have conditions that are quite rare and might still inspire curiosity today. Ella Harper, the "Camel Girl," had congenital genu recurvatum, a condition that caused her knees to bend backward. Because of the unusual structure of her anatomy, walking on all-fours proved more comfortable for Ella Harper.

Hence the "Camel Girl" nickname, since her knees and walking position supposedly made her resemble the ungulate with bent legs. In fact, Harper often appeared with a camel in her act to present a side-by-side comparison. The reality, of course, is that she was a regular adolescent girl who, by the age of 16, appeared to have quit the world of sideshow work to go to school [source: Pednaud].