Spouse: Martha A. Haines
For 55 years Eli Bowen toured the world with circuses billed as the " legless man"
Eli Bowen (1844–1924) was an American sideshow performer known as "The
Legless Acrobat". He was born with his feet attached to his pelvis (without leg
bones). One of ten normal children, Eli learned to use wooden blocks in his
palms as ‘shoes' thus elevating his torso in order to walk on his hands.
He started his professional career at the age of 13 in various wagon shows
before eventually touring independently, performing in dime museums and
finally touring Europe with Barnum and Bailey Circus.
He established a reputation for being a magnificent and effortless tumbler and
acrobat. He also performed phenomenal feats of strength. Bowen commanded
a salary of over $100 a week and had one of the longest lasting and
most popular sideshow acts of his era.
Bowen was married and had four healthy sons all of whom became successful
and prosperous. Although wealthy and secure, Eli loved life in the public eye
and could not give up performing. On May 2, 1924, at age eighty, Eli Bowen
passed away just days before a scheduled performance for
The Dreamland Circus at Coney Island.
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