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September 5, 2020

Portraits of James Morris “The Rubber Man”

James Morris was known as “The Rubber Man” due to his condition, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). Born in 1859 in Copenhagen, New York, he often used his ability to stretch his own skin up to 46 centimeters (18 in) from his body without any pain to amuse those around him.

In 1882 he joined P.T. Barnum’s circus and toured with the show for many years throughout the United States and Europe. There are accounts of him plying his trade as late as 1898. After years of performing as The Rubber Man, his skin would have no doubt begun to form welts and scars, something that can occur easily in those with EDS.

Morris eventually took a second job as a barber and turned to drinking and gambling to cope with his dwindling fame. By the turn of the 20th century, Morris had dropped off the radar, and it’s unknown how long he lived, but many EDS patients develop life-threatening complications by the age of 40, so his outlook might not have been good.


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