Melvin Burkhart

The Man, the Magician, the Anatomical Wonder & Much More!


A Sound Tribute Part 5


by Richard Mullin

The rare recording from which this transcription came was made in 1973 at Slim Kelley’s “Museum of Natural Mistakes” on the Strates’ midway. This transcript is dedicated to showman Melvin Burkhart (1907-2001)

Carnival midway showman Ward Hall said of him: “Melvin was a great guy.  I never heard him say a bad word about anyone and I never heard anyone ever say a bad word of him.  A remarkable, wonderful way to go through life.”


Friends, I only have a Minute’s More....


“Friends, I only have a minute’s more time now to complete my particular part of the program.  Then, you’re going to see the good acts – right here next on this stage or platform – right here next will be the two-faced man.  Then you’re going to see the sword swallower, the Indestructible Girl -- each and every act follows one right after the other.”




“I’ll show you now why Ripley of Believe It or Not fame cartooned and called me the man without a stomach, the man with the rubber neck, the man that grows.  He said that I was an anatomical blunder… ah… wonder!  He also cartooned me because I can actually smile on one side of my face and frown on the other – all at the same time!  Smiling on one side and frowning on the other… {He puts the lower part of his face through a series of wiggles that accomplishes nothing.} …just warming up now.  {His faces freezes in the twisted grimace that has become one of his trademarks.  He displays it by covering half at a time – first with his right hand and then with his left.}  I usually get a little applause on that, but that was little enough.”


“Now to get right down to the bare facts. {He opens his colorful shirt to reveal a tee shirt cut to show a bare stomach area.} Oh, the bare facts – a few feats of muscular control of the body. {He has hung his shirt across a table and now wears only the ventilated tee shirt.} Air conditioning… not moths.  You see, this is my Sunday shirt. It’s a little holy.”


{As he changes certain physical features, he poses to show off each change.}


(1) “First of all, a weight plan. (In a sequence, he points to his chest, his arms and, last, his head.) Nothing here, nothing here, nothing he… here! Then after taking the weight plan with scores of exercise, it’s supposed to look something like this.


(2) The rubber neck – without stretching it too far. (His head rises away from his shoulders, accenting the ligaments and tendons of the neck.) Don’t you try that. You’ll strip your gears.


(3) A one-sided development… (One arm and half his chest are muscular. The other side droops.)


(4) A backward development…  (He turns to show his protruding shoulder blades.)  I was a backward boy.


(5) I’ll bet that’s as close as a waste that I ever get.  A cedar chest...  (His upper torso expands)


(6) A little bad luck, a gut has just slipped down on me! (Probably a sunken chest.) (His stomach appears to be swollen) No matter what you’re thinking, it must be wrong.  I look like I’ve been drinking too much beer.


(7) A man without a stomach… Trying to reduce? Look how easy it is to knock off a few pounds.  Just knock it off!


(8) Breathing through one lung at a time. (He does so.) Shifting gears. (He switches to the other lung.)


(9) Double action. (His upper torso heaves with motion) A sure cure for indigestion.


You know, any five year old child can do that… with about ten years of practice.”


To be continued


Images, Ripley's Believe it on Not? Odditorium New York

Poster of the Anatomical Wonder Melvin Burkhart


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