Julia Pastrana by Holley BakichClose-up of Julia Pastana
Julia Pastrana, a Mexican Digger Indian, was born in 1834 and was four and a half feet tall. Straight, black hair covered her whole face and body (congenital, generalized hypertrichosis terminalis), and her ears and nose were extraordinarily large. Her teeth were irregular and abnormal; according to one account she had a double row in each jaw, though a recent examination of her mummy says otherwise.

A man
named Theodor Lent discovered Julia and began exhibiting her worldwide. Her act highlighted her dancing and singing. She eventually married Lent, and to her deathbed truly believed that he loved her for her own sake. She died in 1860 from complications during childbirth. Her similarly hairy and deformed baby boy lived only 3 days. After their death, Lent allowed a Professor Sokoloff to mummify both bodies. He then resumed the tour and continued to exhibit them both. Lent eventually died of a brain disease — one of his final acts was to run around on a bridge, throwing money into the river.

For many years, Julia's mummy was believed lost. But, in 1990 it was discovered at the Oslo Forensic Institute — only a little worse for wear. Both mummies ended up in Norway in 1921; they were on display until the mid-1970s, when Norwegian authorities threatened confiscation. Thieves stole the mummies in 1979, then recovered by police from a dump and stored at the Institute.

Julia was by all accounts a bright, sweet, and interesting woman. She loved to read. Exhibiting herself saved her from the grinding poverty of her birth home and allowed her to see the world.