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Horse Man: 1923

Horse Man: 1923

"Untitled -- November 27, 1923." Who can figure out what's going on here? National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.
Update: Stanton Square rides to the rescue with the answer: It's the vaudeville strongman Zishe Breitbart, who was something of a legend in his own time.


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He wants to know what it's like to be married.

The "Iron King"

Zishe (Siegmund) Breitbart, a legendary "strongman," ironically died from an infection due to an iron spike a few years after this photo was taken.

Ad in 1924 Popular Mechanics: "Breitbart Reveals it All"

Washington Post, Nov 25, 1923

Chain Biter, Crow Marvel,
Russians on Bill at Keith's

Breitbart, "The Iron King," a sensation in Europe, a man who rivals the most popular matinee idol in appearance, and yet a man who calmly bites through tire chains, winds steel girders around his body with his bare hands, breaks heavy steel bars with his finger and drives spikes into hard wood with his unprotected fist, headlines the bill at Keith's this week. A youthful Pole, handsome, graceful and natural, he has astounded the greatest scientists of the continent with his demonstrations of superhuman strength.

Washington Post, Nov 27, 1923

A Modern Samson Performs Marvels
at Packed Keith's

A modern Samson has come to the city in the person of Siegmond Breitbart, the "Iron King," deft wielder of iron and steel bands, who has jaws that seem to possess the strength of steel. He is the principal attraction at B.F. Keith's theater this week. Breitbart amazed two crowded houses yesterday with his herculean feats. He fully lives up to the sensational notices of his prowess. He is youthul and clean-cut and many would call him handsome.

Among the feats performed by Breitbart last night were sustaining a horse and rider and a dozen men on his chest; biting in two the links of a chain such as ordinarily used to harness horses; sustaining on his chest a miniature merry-go-round with a dozen persons clinging to it, and bending into fantastic shapes with his bare hands and with the aid of his teeth, steel bars the thickness of a man's thumb.

Primitive Dentistry!

You see, the other end of the chain is hooked up to the horse, which will be whipped smartly on the rump, pulling the patient's decayed choppers out as it takes off at a gallop while his friends hold him in place. Then, he'll be ready for a set of "Dr. Painless Parker's" porcelain ones!

Happened all the time in silent movies...

Feat of Strength?

I'd guess he has a piece of leather or rubber he's gripping with his teeth and is attached to that chain which in turn is hooked to something large and that rolls, such as a wagon or other vehicle. Those guys holding the straps around him are there to keep him from being pulled off of whatever they are perched on. My guess and I'm sticking to it...until someone comes up with a real answer.

I shudder to think

It seems like the guy with the chain in his mouth is steering something, so I don't think he's a prisoner. Does he have a pack on his back? Could it be a parachute? But if he plans to go flying off in space or air, why wear a cap? I'm curious to see what other people conclude.

Mister Wagon Hitch

I think he has a team of horses hitched to his teeth. The guy next to him is driving and the guys behind him are holding him in his seat.


I've seen "strong men" pulling airplanes, large trucks, etc. in this way. I assume that's what this is.

Tug of War

It looks like one of those stunts where a guy matches his strength against:

1. horses
2. 10 guys
3. his dentist


This may have been answered by now, but just in case, I believe the man is performing a prodigious feat of strength: he is holding chains connected to a horse harness in his mouth and the leather straps wrapped around him are attached to a heavy wagon. In just a moment the horse(s) will begin to pull.

I'll bet...

...that he's pulling something (train, car, cement block) with his teeth.

Like this guy:

And they didn't even have fluoridation

My guess: pulling a coach with his teeth. Because injuring yourself proving you are macho is not a new invention.

Tooth pull

Is this one of the guys who used his teeth and mouth to pull a weight such as a wagon (I think I saw a train being pulled) or in this case perhaps a horse is tied to the other end of the chain.

Okay, I'll bite!

He's getting his teeth pulled.


Team of horses (teamster holding the reins) pulling a wagon, with chains going to jaws of one intense guy who is strapped to the wagon to prevent the horses running off with him and leaving the wagon behind. If it were not 1923 I would say alcohol was involved.

Strong Man

It looks like he's pulling against something with his mouth--note the people bracing him from the back and the other man with the harness on his side. Maybe he's battling a horse or other animal?

Harnessed up

He is performing a "feat of strength" by having a team of draft animals (horses, oxen, etc.) pull him and a wagon load of friends with only his teeth to link the two.

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