Johnny Eck-the legendary “half-man” who defeated himself, but lost to human cruelty
“If I want to see freaks, I just look out the window” – so sharply about modern society expressed at the end of life “half-moon” johnny Eck, a talented circus performer, musician, inventor, who was destined to be born not like everyone else. It seemed that fate had robbed him of the chance to live a full life, but johnny was stronger than circumstances and mastered many professions. As is often the case, others saw him not so much as an example of strength of spirit, but as an object for ridicule and mockery.
John Eckhart was born on August 27, 1911. His brother Robert was born first, a perfectly healthy child. Emily herself, the mother of “half-boy”, did not assume that she was pregnant with twins, so the birth of John was a surprise. The surprise of the woman and the midwife who delivered the baby was even greater when it became clear that the child was born defective. The terrified midwife, seeing the baby, began to wail that it was not a person, but a broken doll.
Johnny’s disease is called sacral agenesis, which is an underdevelopment of the lower half of the trunk. Despite the illness, the upper half of johnny’s body developed fully, the relationship with his brother was great, the boy attended school, in short, the disease did not interfere with socialization.
Johnny’s fate was predetermined: a person with unusual abilities simply could not stay away from the numerous freak shows at that time. Johnny’s stage career began with a contract with the illusionist John Mcaslan, after which there was a collaboration with other circus troupes. Robert traveled with his brother to provide the necessary assistance. Johnny made a full-fledged acrobatic program, showed power tricks, in particular, became famous for the handstand.
Ekk’s popularity grew, and soon he received an invitation to participate in the filming of the movie “Freaks”. Unlike the other characters in the film, who had not only physical but also mental disabilities, johnny was a completely normal, balanced actor. During the filming, Ekk became romantically involved with the Russian actress Olga Baklanova, courted her, although he understood that he could not achieve her sympathy. The fate of the film “Freaks” turned out to be sad: for many years the tape was banned, and during editing almost all the scenes with Ekk were cut.
In addition to the circus and filming movies, Eck had other Hobbies. He painted pictures, painted stained-glass Windows, and played music. A special piano was made for him so that the pedals could be pressed with his hands, and he also mastered conducting. In pursuit of new sensations, Eck designed the johnny Eck Special racing car and took part in Amateur races. In addition, he was a train driver on the children’s railway.
Because of the ban on freak shows, johnny’s fame gradually faded, and he was only remembered again in the 1980s, when the film “Freaks”was pulled from the archives. Eck was the only actor involved in the shooting who lived to see this moment. However, instead of fame, he received cruel ridicule, there were often cases when his doorbell rang just to stare at the “half-man”.
At the age of 76, Eck once again faced the excessive cruelty of others: robbers broke into his house, where he lived with his brother, and brutally tortured the brothers for several hours. After this incident, Eck finally lost faith in people, began to lead an ascetic lifestyle, and three years later died at home from a heart attack. Robert outlived his brother by only 4 years. So ended the story of the talented johnny Eck, a man who showed by his example that nothing is impossible in life!