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Old 01-29-2010, 11:10 AM   #1
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Unhappy For all the extreme FFA's

Marc Hartzman
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(Jan. 29) While there is no shortage of fat men in America, only one over the past few decades called himself a professional.

Weighing 607 pounds, Bruce Snowdon was a sideshow fat man from 1977 to 2003, billed as "Harold Huge." His death on Nov. 9 at the age of 63 marks the end of a long, heavy tradition dating back centuries.

This weekend, his loved ones will honor him and lay his ashes to rest.

"Bruce was exactly as advertised: the last fat man on show on the carnival midways," said James Taylor, publisher of the sideshow journal Shocked & Amazed.

Bruce Snowdon weighed 607 pounds (though by some billing he tipped the scale at 712 pounds) over his 40-year career as a sideshow fat man. Here he is with fire-eating dwarf Pete Terhurne.

Until the mid-1960s, traveling carnivals frequently featured fat acts. But sideshows declined in popularity as waistlines expanded and obesity became less of a laughing matter.

As the years went by, spotting a man who weighed more than half a ton was not that unusual and that was bad news, if you were in Snowdon's line of work.

Snowdon managed to persevere. In fact, one of his last gigs, as a sideshow performer in Tim Burton's 2003 fantasy "Big Fish," was one of the highlights of his career.

In one scene, Snowdon can be seen sprawled out in a giant tub being washed by Ewan McGregor. The role left him with a handsome paycheck and a urinary tract infection that plagued him in his later years.

Strangely, no one outside of Snowdon's St. Petersburg, Fla., nursing center knew of his death until the middle of this month. He had checked in just weeks earlier and left no family contact information. It wasn't until a banker managing his trust learned the news and told his surviving brother, sister and cousin.

Snowdon never married and had no children. He did, however, keep a yard full of chickens, including five roosters that woke the neighbors bright and early every morning.

"He was an eccentric guy, a good-hearted guy," said Snowdon's cousin, Tom Lawless, who was surprised he didn't hear the news much sooner.

The nursing home had cremated his body before his survivors learned of his passing.

Snowdon's sideshow predecessors were often portrayed as jolly fat men although any joy typically came from receiving a paycheck, which, at the time, may have been difficult to find elsewhere because of their unusually large size.

But this fat man was different. He was a college-educated heavyweight who was content with his size and enjoyed his job.

"Bruce was always pretty into it; he was very canny about the public and what it wanted," said Taylor.

Performing shirtless, he would jiggle his belly and answer questions, 99 percent of which were in regards to his actual weight, he claimed.

"I don't mind being enormously fat," Snowdon told me in a 2003 interview while eating his second ice cream sandwich. "I come from a long line of fat people. My old man tortured himself for 40 years going from 200 to 300 [pounds] and back again. He eventually lost the weight, but he also lost his mind."

Snowdon had no intentions of letting his girth get to him.

"When Bruce entered the business he always wanted to be the fattest man in the world," said John Robinson, who posted a tribute to him on Sideshow World.

His typical meal: a couple of hamburgers, summer squash, TV dinners and "whatever I can cook in a pan," he said. But it wasn't enough to reach his goal.

Despite Snowdon's efforts, he was never listed at more than 712 pounds, according to his boss, World of Wonders impresario Ward Hall.

Marc Hartzman
Snowdon is considered the last of the sideshow fat men.

As recently as 2006, Manuel Uribe Garza of Monterrey, Mexico, tipped the scales at 1,235 pounds and was declared the "Heaviest Living Man" by Guinness World Records. He has since lost some 400 pounds and married. But Uribe is still too heavy to stand.

And unlike Snowdon, he never hit the sideshow circuit.

"He's so big and so fat, it takes four girls to hug him and a boxcar to lug him," Hall would say of Snowdon at shows.

"When he dances you'll swear he must be full of jelly, 'cause jam don't shake that way. And you know, girls, he is single and looking for a wife. He'll make some lucky girl a fine husband. Why, he's so big and fat, he'll provide you with a lot of shade in the summertime, keep you nice and warm in the wintertime, and give you lots of good, heavy loving all the time."

In the early days before he turned pro, Snowdon earned a living as a maintenance man on an Army reserve base in New Hampshire. But after coming across a photo of a fat man in an old circus book he became set on a career change. "He was about 300 pounds, which, by my status is chubby," Snowdon recalled.

An ad in an amusement trade magazine led him to the job with Hall.

"Bruce Snowdon had a degree in paleontology, one in anthropology and one in chemistry," Hall claimed. "But he wanted to be a fat man in the sideshow. And he certainly was that."

Snowdon's ashes will be placed in a mausoleum at the Sunset Memory Gardens in Tampa. The International Independent Showmen's Association of Gibsonton, Fla., maintains a special section, "Showman's Rest," where other sideshow legends are buried.
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Old 01-29-2010, 12:11 PM   #2
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What are "extreme FFAs" and why is an article about a man's death for them?

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Old 01-29-2010, 01:15 PM   #3
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The nursing home had cremated his body before his survivors learned of his passing.
i certainly hope someone was fired for this
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Old 01-29-2010, 01:16 PM   #4
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also i didn't realize working on a tim burton film could be the direct cause of a urinary tract infection. i thought only watching them could do that.
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Old 01-29-2010, 01:21 PM   #5
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also i didn't realize working on a tim burton film could be the direct cause of a urinary tract infection. i thought only watching them could do that.
Hearing people talk about Tim Burton films works, too. Pass the cranberry juice.
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Old 01-29-2010, 01:23 PM   #6
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also i didn't realize working on a tim burton film could be the direct cause of a urinary tract infection. i thought only watching them could do that.
Apparently Ewan McGregor is REALLY bad at bathing people.
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Old 01-29-2010, 02:06 PM   #7
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this is a sad story.
it sounds like he was a good man.
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Old 01-29-2010, 02:49 PM   #8
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Do the 'extreme' FFAs (or any FFAs) feel that this news story is something worthy of discussion..? Or appropriate for this board? If people find it to be of no value, I'll close the thread.
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Old 01-29-2010, 03:03 PM   #9
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Worth discussing, but not really for this board, I think. There's another copy of this thread on the main board anyway, with a different title.
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Old 01-29-2010, 03:05 PM   #10
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ah yes... I see the other thread now.

Ok. Thread closed.
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