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 William Henry “Zip” Johnson

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William Henry “Zip” Johnson

  • Birth 1857 Liberty Corner, Somerset County, New Jersey, USA
  • Death 28 Apr 1926 Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
  • Burial Bound Brook, Somerset County, New Jersey, USA
  • Plot Plot 399
  • Memorial ID 7635469

Circus Entertainer. William Henry Johnson was born into poverty to former slaves. Although of normal intelligence, his head developed into an unusual shape, giving him the appearance of a person with microencephaly. In need of money, his parents allowed him to be exhibited in a cage by a New Jersey circus as a "missing link," supporting the story that he had been caught in Africa. The act was so popular that it drew the attention of P.T. Barnum, who purchased the right to display him. Barnum had Johnson's haircut shaped so that it tapered to a point, accentuating his already-sloping brow, and billed him as "Zip the Pinhead." As Johnson aged, he eventually gave up traveling with the circus and chose instead to display himself at Coney Island. He eventually died of respiratory illness. Cartoonist Bill Griffith's comic strip entitled "Zippy the Pinhead" was partially inspired by Johnson.

Bio by: countedx58





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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Dustin Oliver
  • Added: 29 Jun 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7635469
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William Henry “Zip” Johnson (1857–28 Apr 1926), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7635469, citing Bound Brook Cemetery, Bound Brook, Somerset County, New Jersey, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .