Tag Archives: Halloween prosthetics

Fanny Mills: The Woman with Size 30 Feet

Milroy’s disease is a defect that is present at birth, often first experienced during childhood. The most common of issues is the swelling of a leg, which could progress and actually affect both legs. To put it bluntly, your legs expand with excess fluid caused by the lack of normal drainage of lymph. Combined with the hypertrophy of soft tissue, the affected limb can swell to nearly three times the normal size. Milroy’s disease is most commonly seen in women.

Now the good stuff:

Fanny Mills, born in 1860, is one of the more infamous cases of Milroy’s disease. Both of Mills’ legs were affected by this dreaded disease, making it difficult to even walk around. However, Mills was able to turn her lack of normal leg circulation into a profiting business: she joined a sideshow and became one of the main acts. Mills was well on her way to utilizing her disease for her own benefit.

fanny mills

With the help of an accompanying nurse, Mary Brown, Mills was able to move around, traveling from city to city. To drum up attention, Mills’ promoters offered $5,000 and a well-stocked farm to any man willing to marry Fanny Mills. The promotion was bogus, but Mills did receive numerous marriage proposals, and her sideshow act continued to soar.

fanny mills
An original advertisement for Fanny Mills.

No normal shoes would fit to Mills’ gargantuan feet, so shoes had to be specially tailored to her size. Each pair of shoes required three goat skins, with pillowcases acting as socks. Though her feet were clearly not the same size, Mills’s feet were said to measure approximately 19 long and 7 wide. Due to the fact that Mills weighed no more than 115 pounds, the size of her body seems to exaggerate the size of her feet. It’s the same phenomena that happens with Halloween prosthetics.

fanny mills

Mills went on to marry William Brown, the brother of her accompanying nurse. Brown was nearly twenty years older than Mills, but she must have been happy simply to enjoy the company of a romantic partner. The two went on to try for a child, but the only result was a stillborn. At the age of thirty-two, Mills passed away from cancer, without an heir to live on her bloodline.

Edward Mordrake and Pasqual Pinon: The Original Two-Faces

Born in the 19th century, Edward Mordrake was a man of many faces, literally. According to pictures and various accounts, Edward Mordrake had an extra face on the back of his head. The face could not talk or speak, but it could cry and laugh. Edward went to doctors, begging for them to remove his second face what he called his demon head – because it would whisper horrible things to him as he tried to sleep. Unfortunately, no doctor helped Edward Mordrake, who committed suicide at the age of 23.

edward mordrake
Edward Mordrake.

Pasqual Pinon, known as The Two-Headed Mexican, worked in a freak show circus in the early 1900s. Before his work in the circus, he was a railroad worker in Texas. A sideshow promoter noticed that Pasqual suffered from a large benign tumor on the top of his head. The promoter convinced Pasqual to join the freak show circus and had a fake face made of wax placed on Pasqual’s tumor. (There are some reports that the fake face was made of silver, which was surgically placed under the skin of the tumor.) Year later, the manager of the circus paid for the operation to have the tumor removed, and Pasqual moved back to Texas.

pasqual pinon
Pasqual Pinon.

While Edward Mordrake’s story is horrifying and depressing, I cannot help but love Pasqual Pinon. Someone comes along, gawks at his enlarged cranium, then, basically, asks to stick Halloween prosthetics on it possibly in it, depending on which account is true. What does Pasqual do? Leaves his life behind to become the focal point of a freak show. That’s looking on the bright side of things.