Josephene Myrtle Corbin, the Four-Legged Girl
"Straight from Lincoln County, Tennessee, the sweetest little farm girl you'll ever meet. She'll bewitch you with her smile - and just wait until you see her legs!"
Léda Davies' character in Freak Show is loosely based on a real-life figure: Josephene Myrtle Corbin, the Four-Legged Girl.
Born on May 12, 1868, in Lincoln County Tennessee, Corbin was a dipygus, meaning she had two separate pelvises, side-by-side, from the waist down. Each of her smaller inner legs was paired with one of her outer legs.
She could move the small inner legs, which possessed only three toes on each foot. One of her other legs had a clubbed foot; technically, the Four-Legged Girl only had one good, useable leg.
When she was five weeks old, Corbin's father started charging a small fee to let people have a look at his four-legged daughter. As she grew older, he took her to fairs, sideshows and dime museums across the country. After she turned 14, her father got her a contract to appear with P.T. Barnum's traveling exhibition at a salary of $250 per week.
She retired from show business at age 19 when she married Dr. Clinton Bicknell, and subsequently gave birth to five children: four daughters and a son. Rumours state that she had two functional reproductive systems; some children came from one, and some from the other. In Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine by George M. Gould and Walter L. Pyle, it was observed that both vaginas menstruated - thus indicating both were possibly sexually functional.
In 1909, once her children had grown up, she started appearing at Huber's Museum in New York as the Four-Legged Woman. This led to more engagements with Ringling Brothers and at Coney Island, where she was soon making $450 per week.
Corbin passed away on May 6, 1928 in Cleburne, Texas.