Martin Laurello

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Martin Joe Laurello
BornMartin Emmerling
circa 1886
OccupationSideshow performer
Known forCould turn his head 180 degrees

Martin Joe Laurello (born Martin Emmerling, 1885-1955), also known by the stage names Human Owl and Bobby the Boy with the Revolving Head, was a German-American sideshow performer and biological rarity who could turn his head 180 degrees. He performed with groups such as Ripley's Believe it or Not, Ringling Brothers, and Barnum & Bailey. He also trained animals to do things such as acrobatics.

Early life and career[edit]

Laurello was born Martin Emmerling in Germany circa 1886.[1] In 1921, together with a handful of other people with biological rarities from Europe, Laurello arrived in the United States.[1] Laurello could turn his head 180 degrees.[2] In the words of fellow sideshow performer Percilla Berjano, known as the "Monkey Girl", "[Laurello] could put his head all the way around".[2] To accomplish this feat, he reportedly practised rotating his head for three years[3] and also had to "dislocate various vertebrae".[2] Being born with a slightly bent spine might have also aided Laurello in pulling off his act of flexibility.[1]

For a period of time, Laurello was billed at the Bailey Circus as "Bobby the Boy with the Revolving Head".[2] Laurello also worked at the New York City-based Hubert's Museum, mostly during the winter,[2] as well as Ringling Brothers and Coney Island.[1] During his stint at the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditoriums in the 1930s, Laurello managed to attract massive crowds.[4] When performing, Laurello preferred to don a white shirt.[2] He also trained dogs and cats to do acrobatic tricks.[5]

Personal life[edit]

There is not much documented about Laurello's personal life. Berjano described Laurello as "a Nazi" who "didn't like the American flag".[2] In April 1931, Laurello was arrested by Baltimore police for abandoning his spouse, after she lodged a complaint via telegram.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Ripley's Believe it or Not! – Strange but True. Ripley Publishing. 2009. pp. 21–. ISBN 9781422225738.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Joe Nickell (9 September 2005). Secrets of the Sideshows. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 292–293. ISBN 978-0-8131-3737-7.
  3. ^ Eric Gryzymokowski (18 April 2011). Attack of the Killer Facts!: 1,001 Terrifying Truths about the Little Green Men, Government Mind-Control, Flesh-Eating Bacteria, and Goat-Sucking Vampires. Adams Media. pp. 78–. ISBN 978-1-4405-2539-1.
  4. ^ Mary Packard (1 January 2004). Ripley's Believe It Or Not!: Bizarre Collection. Scholastic. ISBN 978-0-681-02479-3.
  5. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (29 May 1948). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 57–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  6. ^ "'Rotating Head' Leads to Arrest of Man for Abandoning Wife". The New York Times. 1 May 1931.