Zippy and Schlitzie

Following up on my posting about the pinhead (microcephalic) Schlitzie in the film Freaks, Tim Wilson noted on Facebook that he thought that Bill Griffith had done a cartoon based on the wedding feast scene in the movie (with the memorable lines “One of us! One of us!” and “Gobble gobble gobble” in it). I haven’t found it yet, but I did find a Zippy where Griffith makes an explicit connection to Schlitzie, and to a 19th century microcephalic Zip:

Tyvek is a brand name for flashspun polyethylene material. I’m not sure what it’s doing in this cartoon.


4 Responses to “Zippy and Schlitzie”

  1. Wolf Krakowski Says:

    Hello Arnold: I turned 18 in the summer of 1965. I had a job working for Conklin and Garrett Shows at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, where I lived with my family and attended high school. It was there that I first came to know Schlitzie, who was billed as “The Missing Link” on the midway sideshow. It would break my heart (and piss me off!) to see him taunted mercilessly and even have bottles and lit cigarettes thrown at him by idiots in the audience.
    When the show packed up and moved onto London and the Western Ontario Fair, I went along. You might say I was dissatisfied with life at home and at school. (In Ontario, they have a Grade 13!)
    After setting up, I was given the job as foreman of the bumper cars. The carnies stayed at the Clarendon Hotel on the tenderloin. I had a room next to Schlitzie’s and that of his guardian, Frenchy, a former sword-swallower and, he claimed, a ” Gypsy prince.” He wore an impressive ring to signify his royalty. I had no reason to disbelieve him. In the evenings, after a long day on the fairgrounds, we would all hang out together; maybe play a few hands of poker or just relax.
    Frenchy would drive us all to work, stopping off first at one of the government-run liquor stores to pick up a bottle for the evening, as they would be closed when our workday was over.
    One day, Frenchy suddenly stopped the car in front of a pawn shop displaying several knives and swords in the window, saying he wanted to go inside and sallow a sword, to keep in practice. Schlitzie and I lingered in the car a few moments, waiting for the song playing on the radio to come to an end. Schlitzie enjoyed music and would rock and wave his arms with glee to the rhythm.
    When we entered the shop, hand-in-hand, I observed Frenchy disinfecting a sword and proceed to swallow it. The two rather elderly women running the place gasped in horror and disbelief. When they turned to see me (sporting rather long hair for 1965) and Schlitzie, I could see the blood just drain from their faces. Frenchy thanked them for the use of the sword and we continued on our way to work. Later, I would see Frenchy practice his art using a straightened coat-hanger from the hotel closet; he always disinfected it first, of course.
    Schlitzie, like all children, craved tenderness and affection. he would snuggle up to me and I would put my arms around him. This simple contact and expression
    of warmth caused him to moan and sob. I was a little young and inexperienced to fully grasp what he must have been going through emotionally at the time.
    On one occasion, Frenchy observed me giving Schlitzie a hug and asked me to stop. He explained that he would come to want these embraces all the time and never let me go. Reluctantly, i did as he asked.
    I’m 63 now. I’ve never forgotten Schlitzie and Frenchy and the days I “ran away with the circus.”

    Wolf Krakowski

    Kame’a Media: ww,

  2. Schlitzie again | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Griffith told the story of Schlitzie back in 2011, in “Zippy and Schlitzie”, and I told the story (in connection with Tod Browning’s Freaks) in “A Famous […]

  3. Schlitzie one more time | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Griffith told the story of Schlitzie some years ago —  see “Zippy and Schlitzie” (2011) – and I told the story (in connection with Tod Browning’s Freaks) in “A Famous […]

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