The ossified freak show performer rose to popularity in the 19th century. With Victorian advances in science and medicine, the idea of an incurable and mysterious degenerative disease was morbidly alluring. That the ossified man or woman invariably began life as a normal, healthy human being added a certain "it-could-happen-to-you" appeal to his or her act. Although fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) - the genetic disorder that by and large causes so-called ossification - is better understood today, there still exists no way to halt its devastating progression. In fact, individuals with FOP have gotten top freak show billing even in recent years - as guests on talk shows such as Maury Povich.
"Ossified Roy" Bard was born around 1885. His battle with the tragic bone disease began after he sustained a fall from a bicycle. Many ossified people have reported that their joint troubles were triggered by an injury, usually a mild one. Roy was one of a handful of FOP patients who decided to make the most of his misfortune. He was with Ripley's Believe it or Not?! and later Wortham Shows in the 1930s. He retained mobility of his lips and used them to sign autographs.