Born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1923, Frieda Pushnik blamed her lack of limbs on a botched appendectomy her mother underwent while pregnant. Despite being without arms or legs (except for a small stump of an arm), Frieda was remarkably self-sufficient, learning to use her mouth, chin, and arm stump to apply makeup, crochet, dress herself and type on a typewriter. She attended school, where she received awards for her elegant penmanship, and was carried to and from by her devoted mother. When Frieda later entered showbusiness, making her debut with Ripley's Odditorium at the 1934 Chicago World's Fair, her mother remained by her side. Miraculously, Frieda survived the Barnum circus fire of 1949 - such disasters claimed the lives of many great performers. She appeared in several movies including House of the Damned in 1963, El Castillo de los Monstruos (an Argentine remake of House of the Damned) in 1964, and the TV movie Side Show in 1981, in which she played a limbless woman named Naomi. Frieda retired to Costa Mesa, Cali., where she lived in luxury until her death on December 24, 2000, of bladder cancer.

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Updated 3.29.06.