Myrtle Corbin is an American sideshow performer born on May 12, 1868, and died on May 6, 1928. She had a severe congenital deformity known as Dipygus.
As a result of Dipygus, her body axis split during development. From waist to down, she had two separate pelvises side by side.
The smaller inner legs of her body were paired with her longer outer legs. Though her inner legs could move, they were weak enough that she hadn’t been able to walk with them.
Corbin’s birthplace is Lincoln County, Tennessee. She was born to William H. Corbin (her dad) and Nancy Corbin (her mother). She had seven other siblings, and surprisingly her all the siblings were fine and normal. The mother claimed that she had a typical childbirth experience, except the baby was momentarily breach.
Four Legged Girl:
Originally known as “Four-Legged Girl from Texas,” Corbin began promoting herself on the sideshow circuit at the age of 13 with a promotional pamphlet with terms like:
Gentle of disposition as the summer sunshine and as happy as the day is long.
The popularity of her performances prompted other showmen to perform gaffs (falsified performances).
Her popularity was relatively high with PT Barnum and Ringling Bros. and Coney Island in the later years.
Due to her extraordinary showmanship, Myrtle’s popularity was likely a result of how she matched all of her extra limbs perfectly, resulting in a surreal appearance.
She can make as much as $450 a week because of her popularity.
In the initial time of Myrtle Corbin, the people were not taking her seriously and considered her as a part of a sideshow circuit. Moreover, she was also regarded as physically disabled or the one that is not normal. But as time progressed and especially after her marriage and pregnancy, the opinions wholly changed.
She was then considered as a woman who is very mature, diligent, and a house lady too. She made her family of four daughters and one son with her husband, a doctor. She led a normal life with her husband.
About Corbin pregnancy:
Corbin married James Clinton Bicknell when she was of 19, and the couple had four daughters and one a son.
Corbin became pregnant for the first time about a year following her marriage to Bicknell: Dr. Lewis Whaley, of Blountsville, Alabama, diagnosed her condition after she complained of pain in her left side, fever, headache, and a loss of appetite.
During her pregnancy, she suffered from vomiting and amenorrhea for consecutively two months. After the complete examination of Corbin, her doctor, Whaley, realized that she also has a duplication of sexual organs internally, and she is pregnant from her left uterus.
Upon the news of her pregnancy, she said to the doctor
If it had been in my right side I would come nearer believing you are correct.
In response to her pregnancy’s severity, Corbin became gravely ill, prompting Whaley to perform an abortion based on her consultations with colleagues. It is reported that, at the time, she was between three and four months pregnant. After completing a full recovery, she was able to carry subsequent pregnancies.
After this, the opinions and views about Corbin were changed completely. People began to know her more correctly and nicely. She was considered as a mature household lady that can do all the tasks.
In 1889 the British Medical Journal quoted about Myrtle Corbin:
She is about five feet high, has fair skin, blue eyes, and curly hair, and is very intelligent. A stranger, to see her in company, would only think her unusually broad across her hips and with the carriage usual to one with clubbed foot. I have known Mrs. B. since she was a tiny child, as the ‘four-legged girl,’ but never realized the perfect dual development of both external and internal genital organs until she became my patient in [a] case of pregnancy
Myrtle Corbin died on May 6, 1928 in Cleburne, Texas.