Chicago native, Sam Alexander, was a stage actor who was wounded in a gasoline explosion on his way home from a night out. The accident disfigured his face below the eyes and unable to continue working as an actor he responded to an advertisement he saw for a local sideshow, owned by Pete Kortes, where he became known as “the man with two faces”.
A talented prosthetics maker produced a convincingly realistic mask to conceal the damage, as people at the time could not bear to look at Alexander’s injuries and exposed skull.
During his act he would recount his story before removing the mask in front a shocked and startled audience. He continued to work for various sideshows until he eventually owned his own and never gave up on surgeries to rebuild his face.
It took a total of 72 procedures to fix the damage, and although the end result was not perfect, Sam Alexander was able to hang up his mask for good.
Extra Note: I managed to find this amazing photograph of the Pete Kortes sideshow on a website called "The circus blog" ran by gentleman by the name of Ivan.M Henry, who is a 5th generation circus owner. He has been documenting circus history from the 1800's - present on his site, so go over and check it out, it's very interesting!
The circus blog [ X ]
(Source) "American Sideshow" By Marc Hartzman [ X ]
The Human Marvels [ X ]