I just come
across these photographs, I was interested in who this
person is in the photograph?
Also included with the
photographs is a description that states "Priscilla the
Monkey Girl" and the "Lizard Man" Emmett Bejano. This is a
very scarce original image due to the fact the infant died
of pneumonia at the age of 4 months.
The little girl's name
was Francine Bejano. Photo was taken on March 18, 1939 at
Millers Tavern in Essex County, VA in the room the baby
information on these photos would be appreciated?
Thanks for your question.
I have found
conflicting information about the Bejano's and the number
of children they had.
On February 2, 1939,
Priscilla gave birth to a baby girl, Francina, at Millers
Like Pricilla, Francina was
covered head-to-toe in black hair
the image of the baby does not have black hair from head to
The World's Strangest
Married Couple were overjoyed about becoming the World's
Strangest Parents, but sadly Francina succumbed to bronchial
pneumonia at the age of just fourteen weeks.
I have posted
these clips one from a photo you shared and an early
photo of Priscilla.
I haven't be
able to verify that the images you sent are Priscilla, or
The Bejano's only had one child and it was a boy.
He is pictured
above in his mothers (Priscilla) arms with a
and Emmett his father.
and information is from a friend of Priscilla's.
I hope this
info is helpful, the photograph are very interesting and
historical, thank you for sharing them.
I will also ask any of
our reader if they have information or history on these
images to please contact us here
More about the Monkey
Girl and her infant child: Percilla Roman was born in
Bayamón, Puerto Rico, on April 26, 1911. At birth she had
not only a full head of dark hair, but also a layer of
coarse dark hair covering her entire face and body. She also
had two rows of teeth. Of her parents' seven children, she
was the only one with any sort of abnormality.
The Romans brought their daughter to New York City on
several occasions, trying to determine a cause – and
possibly a cure – for her hairiness. The experts agreed that
her condition was the result of a genetic abnormality and
could never be cured. Frustrated, and in need of funds to
support his wife and other children, her father placed her
on exhibition when she was three years old. When she was
six, her father died and the show's owner, Carl Lauther, and
his wife adopted her. The Lauthers were as much doting
parents as they were managers. They hired tutors to ensure
Percilla got the best education. (She was already fluent in
Spanish and English from living in Puerto Rico.) When
Percilla complained of being lonely, they bought her a pet:
a trained chimpanzee, Johanna, who would be Percilla’s
constant companion, on and off the stage, for years to come.
Billed as "The Monkey Girl", Percilla became a great success
with Rubin and Cherry Shows, where Carl Lauther ran a freak
animal exhibit, Lauther's European Wonder Show. She was
especially popular with spectators in 1924, in the wake of
the famous Scopes "monkey trial" which brought the debate
over evolutionary theory into the public eye. Who better to
personify the issue than a living, breathing Missing Link? (Krao,
G.A. Farini’s "missing link", was still performing, but had
been relegated to the role of a simple Bearded Lady at Coney
Island.) Percilla and a trained orangutan, Snooky, even
staged a mock debate, with Percilla representing the
pro-evolution argument and Snooky standing against it. The
strangest chapter in Percilla's life came when she was
seventeen. While Percilla was appearing with her foster
parents' show in Cuba, a strange woman dressed
all in black and wearing a heavy veil appeared in the show
tent and intently watched all of Percilla's performances.
She then approached the Lauthers and introduced herself as
Madam Obrea, an eccentric millionaire who lived in a mansion
outside Havana. She was fascinated by apes and kept several
of them as companions in her house. Madam Obrea offered to
take Percilla as a protégé. She would ensure that Percilla
got the best education, and would leave her fortune to
Percilla when she died. Most importantly, though, she
promised to fund an operation to remove Percilla's
supernumerary teeth, which were causing her considerable
pain. The Lauthers could not afford this surgery themselves
and, though they loved their adopted daughter, begged her to
accept the offer. Percilla, however, distrusted the strange
woman and chose instead to stay with the life she knew. This
story is probably not true, but serves as a poignant
reminder of how many freaks, far from being imprisoned and
exploited as critics often claim, accepted and even
preferred their lives a performers. In 1936 Lauther’s show,
starring Percilla as well as three Ubangi tribeswomen and a
fakir named Captain White, was signed with the Johnny J.
Jones Exposition’s "Oddities of the 20th Century" show. Also
in his employ was Emmitt Bejano, known as "Lobello, the
Alligator Boy". He was born Emmitt Driggers in Punta Gorda,
Florida, on August 23, 1914. His parents divorced when he
was six years old and his father put him on exhibition with
showman Johnny Bejano of Morris & Castle Shows. When
Emmitt's father died, Bejano adopted him. Emmitt was
afflicted with lamellar ichthyosis, a hereditary condition
that causes thickening and cracking of the epidermis that
resembles reptilian scales. By constantly oiling his face
and hands, Emmitt was able to keep these parts scale-free,
and could thus pass unnoticed in public wearing long sleeves
and a high collar. Despite his freakish skin, Emmitt was
notably handsome. Percilla, too, had grown into an
attractive young woman, with a keen sense of humor and an
exceptionally beautiful speaking voice (believed to be a
secondary feature of hypertrichosis). The two young freaks
felt an instant attraction and, after a few months'
courtship, eloped in January of 1938. On February 2, 1939,
Percilla gave birth to a baby girl, Francina, at Millers
Tavern, Virginia. Like Percilla, Francina was covered
head-to-toe in black hair. The World's Strangest Married
Couple were overjoyed about becoming the World's Strangest
Parents, but sadly Francina succumbed to bronchial pneumonia
at the age of just fourteen weeks.
In 1945 Percilla
and Emmitt – as "Londo and Lobello" – left Lauther's show
and signed on with a traveling Ripley's Believe it or Not?!
exhibit. Among their colleagues were Joan Whisnant Beach,
armless guitarist; Clara "Dolly" Regan (then Clara Schazer),
the ossified girl; Grace McDaniels, the mule-faced woman;
and W.D. "Tiny" Cowan, one of America's fattest men.
Sometime in the 1950s, Emmitt and Percilla bought an acre of
land and a mobile home in the carnival community of
Gibsonton, Florida. Desiring children, but fearing another
tragedy, the Bejanos chose instead to adopt a baby boy,
Tony, in 1960. Percilla nicknamed their homestead the P.E.T.
Ranch – for Percilla, Emmitt, Tony. Tony traveled with his
parents and worked as a ride operator and concession man
with the carnival. Throughout the '50s and '60s they ran
their own show, known as the Bejano Family, with Gooding
Amusements, and they performed with James E. Strates Shows
into the 1970s, even as freak shows across the nation faced
closures by well-intentioned disability groups. "We have fun
in our work and we often feel that some of the people at the
show need to be up on the stage looking down on us,"
Percilla told a reporter in 1978. "When they start making
fun at me, I say, 'I can see you for nothing right here, but
you had to pay to see me.'" "[Sideshow work] keeps me off
the relief line," Emmitt said in the same interview. "It's
an honest effort, and I feel more or less proud of the fact
that I can earn my own living and can do anything anybody
else can. Nature does funny things sometimes, but I've lived
a normal life." In the 1980s and '90s, Percilla and Emmitt
retired from traveling, but made numerous television and
film appearances as two of the last surviving veterans of
the intriguing, yet increasingly taboo, freak show culture.
The 1981 documentary Being Different features an interview
with the couple and footage of Percilla in the supermarket
with her heavy black beard covered by a veil. (If anyone
asked, she told them she was "a Hindu".) On April 17, 1995,
Emmitt passed away. In mourning for her husband of nearly
sixty years, Percilla began shaving her beard. Though she
continued to make public appearances, she remained beardless
until her own death on February 5, 2001.
grant my exterior appearance is strange and unusual but
that does not hinder me from enjoying life to the fullest
extent and from participating in the goodness life has to
offer the same as yourself.
statement from one of Percilla's Pitchbooks
If you have a question you would like
to submit email us at the
Back to Ask the
Back to Main