Angelo Faticoni

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Angelo Faticoni (1859 – August 2, 1931) was a professional freakshow artist and contortionist who was renowned for his unusual buoyancy. He was known as the 'Human Cork'.

Faticoni was an Italian-American who discovered during his early childhood that he was able to float for long periods of time, although he did not use his abilities professionally until later life.[1] Faticoni's professional feats include being sewn into a sack and thrown into a river attached to a 20-pound cannonball. A journalist at the time reported that Faticoni soon poked his head out of the sack and "he remained motionless in that position for hours".[1]

On another occasion, the artist swam across the Hudson River tied to a chair which was weighted with lead.[2] Doctors at Harvard University tested Faticoni's abilities by observing him in a pool of water with a 20-pound lead weight tied to him. Faticoni stayed afloat for 15 hours. Doctors concluded that Faticoni's abilities were due to abnormal internal organs.[1]

Though contemporary scientists were unable to find illusionism in Faticoni's work, the media frequently suggested that his unusually abilities were due to other-worldly forces. Popular psychics of the time suggested that spirits assisted him with staying afloat.[1][3] Although the 'Human Cork' promised to reveal the secret of his buoyancy, he died before he was able to,[3] passing away on August 2, 1931 at St. Vincent's Hospital whilst visiting relatives in Jacksonville, Florida.[1] Faticoni's obituary in The New York Times carried the headline; "Human Cork dies, secret untold".[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e Randall Floyd (January 17, 1993). "Human Cork's death sank attempts to uncover secret". The Augusta Chronicle.
  2. ^ "Apertif". The North American Review. University of Northern Iowa. 232 (4): 289–291. October 1931. JSTOR 25113906.
  3. ^ a b New York Herald Tribune, August 13, 1931, p.8 c.1
  4. ^ "'Human Cork' dies, Secret Untold". New York Times. August 13, 2010.