Francesco Lentini, was born in Rosolini (Sicily-Italy) at 16:15 on Saturday, May 18, 1889, on 9 Gintoli Street to farmers Natale and Giovanna Falco.
He was the fifth of 12 children after Rosario, Rosaria, Filippa and Francesca; siblings Michael and Josephine were born in US. Shocked and terrified, midwife Maria Alberino hid the baby in a reed basket under the bed, and ran from the room screaming, which brought many women who left in tears, without the courage to tell Giovanna the truth. When Giovanna was alone and unwrapped Francesco from the cotton swaddling that once wrapped his maternal grandmother «Pippina» (Giuseppa Casto), she understood the reason for the weeping. When father, Natale, returned from harvesting hay in the countryside, he viewed his son as the will of the Almighty.
News spread that, during pregnancy, Giovanna had visited with a carter (cart maker) and become disquieted by the craftsman’s table which rested on three legs. Little Francis was born with three legs, but for the superstitious village, he was considered a punishment from Godand was labelled the «Maravigghia» (ABOMINABLE) and called, «Ciccinieddu tri pieri» (Three legged Ciccinieddu). Disgraced, the parents initially refused the child, leaving it in the care of Giacoma the wife of uncle, Corrado Falco.
At 4 months old, his parents brought Frank to see a specialist in Naples and as he got older, he began playing outside with other children. At five, Frank could almost straighten his third leg, but was sad that he could not use it to walk.
While living at 26 Lo Bello Street, Frank learned to adapt to his body: his mother sewed custom pants and special ordered his three shoes from the shoemaker; he learned to sit and to sleep by putting his third leg on a nearby trunk; and when the extra leg no longer reached the ground, he opted to tie it to the adjoining leg.
Word spread and interest grew and Frank was exhibited in many cities, including London in 1897. In 1898, Magnano, who had a travelling puppet show, brought him to Middletown with his parents and siblings, Corrado and Filippa. Once in the US, Frank began performing in the Ringling Brothers circus, kicking footballs into the crowd. In 1906 he debuted with the Barnum Circus in New York's Madison Square Garden. He toured several times across the US and Europe.
In 1907 he married Theresa Murray with whom he had four children: Josephine, Ned, Francis Junior and James. Current living descendants are the grandchildren of Josephine: Richard and Pamela Longo; the children of Frank Junior: Phyllis Vandenburg, James, Kathy Paige, Theresa Rix, Michael, Carolyn Woodcock and George; and the children of James: Janelle Meade, Bill Wieland. When Frank and Theresa separated about 1935, he began a new life with Helen Shupe with whom he lived until his death.
Frank had Sicilian physical features: height 169 cm (5’6”), dark complexion, gray eyes, and brown hair. He completed school through eighth grade with the help of Giovannina Brogato, his Italian-born tutor. Pietra Scala recalls meeting Francis in Rosolini on Alighieri Street in 1923, and in America he spoke Sicilian when visiting with his cousins Louis and John.
Frank died in Jackson (Tennessee) on September 21, 1966, at age 77, while he was on tour.
When asked why he was born as he is, he replied: «…my mother did not give birth to two children. More than one, but not two».