Lionel The Lion Faced Boy – Famous Sideshow Performer

Stephan Bibrowski (1890–1932), better known as Lionel the Lion-faced Man, was a famous sideshow performer. His whole body was covered with long hair that gave him the appearance of a lion; this was likely due to a rare condition called hypertrichosis.

Lionel The Lion Faced Boy (1907)
Image source. No known copyright restrictions.

Bibrowski was born with one-inch hair covering his body. When his mother was pregnant with Bibrowski she witnessed his father being mauled by a lion. She blamed the condition on this. She considered Stephan an abomination. What a bitch! She gave him up to a German impresario named Sedlmayer when he was only four years old! Sedlmayer gave him his stage name and started exhibiting him around Europe.

By the time he was put on exhibit, Lionel’s hair had grown to eight inches on his face. It hung about four inches everywhere else. Only thee palms of his hands and the soles of his feet were hairless. In 1901, Lionel traveled to the United States and started appearing with the Barnum and Bailey Circus. He toured with the circus from then on, occasionally going back to Europe.

Lionel The Lion Faced Boy - Famous Sideshow Performer
Image source. No known copyright restrictions.

In his act, Lionel performed gymnastic tricks, and also spoke to people to show his gentle side that sharply contrasted with his appearance. He settled in the U.S. in 1920, becoming a popular attraction, and moved to New York City, where he was a fixture at Coney Island.

By the late 1920s, Lionel retired from his sideshow career and moved back to Germany. He was reported to have died in Berlin from a heart attack in 1932 at forty-one years old.

Information source Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Most of the text is copied right from the Stephan Bibrowski page, with some small changes.

Leave a Reply