When I first started this blog, I did a post on how a real photo postcard of Frances O'Connor started an obsession. Photos of her as an adult are much more common than the ones of her as a child. In fact, in all my years of collecting, I've only seen two photos of Frances O'Connor as a child and I own both of them.
Frances Belle O’Connor was born in 1914 in Granite Falls, Minnesota. Born without arms, she learned to use her feet for everyday tasks.
With her mother as her manager, she began her sideshow career with the Al G. Barnes Circus in Wyoming. She was quickly billed as “The Living Venus De Milo”, and while not the first sideshow performer to have that nickname, she certainly exemplified the title. Beautiful with a sweet personality, she attracted scores of men to her shows and reportedly turned down many marriage proposals.
From the 1920s through the 1940’s, she worked with Cole Bros., Sells-Floto and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circuses. Her act consisted of smoking cigarettes, sewing, shooting a rifle, eating and drinking, some of which she performed in the 1932 film Freaks.
After her mother passed away, Frances lost interest in show business and retired in California. She never married or had children and passed away in relative obscurity in 1982.
Here's a soundless clip of Frances O'Connor eating from the Tod Browning's film, Freaks.