Previous Next Johnny Eck and Major

Johnny Eck (1911-1991) is not standing in a box, but on a concrete stair in front of his Baltimore rowhouse, together with his chihuahua Major. In his prime, Johnny was billed as "the half boy" and eventually "the King of the Freaks." He is beautifully immortalized for all time in Todd Browning's classic horror film Freaks (1932).

After this film became available on video in the 1970s, and through the 1980s, a new generation of horror fans kept showing up at Johnny's apartment. He would let them in, and in letters to friends said he suspected some of these fans were legitimately crazy, but he did regret being so impoverished at the time he could not even provide them with a cookie or a cup of tea.

Eck was a magician, race car driver, puppeteer, orchestra condoctor, animal trainer, penny arcade owner, athlete, photographer, and artist. But toward the end of his life, when he lived with Major and his brother Robert in the rowhouse, Johnny had become a recluse, due to a severe beating he and Robert took in their own home from two intruders. No more fans let inside after that.

Forrest "Famous Monsters of Filmland" Ackerman had a tiny chihuahua named Bonnie Barker, who "wrote" letters to Johnny Eck's chihuahua Major. Bonnie had been found abandoned in a graveyard. I hope someday to have a picture of Bonnie! When Johnny Eck died, Major and Robert survived him by a few years.

Previous Next

[ Empire of the Chihuahua Home ]

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl