Ivannow Wladislaus von Dziarski-Orloff was born in Hungary in 1864. While he was completely normal during his childhood, at the age of 14 he began to experience an unknown wasting disease. By early adulthood, Orloff was little more than a living skeleton – unable to stand and in constant pain. To deal with his tragic pain, Orloff took to the opium pipe – strangely enough the pipe became something of a trademark as many of his pitch cards pictured him puffing away and ‘chasing the dragon’.
While during his career Orloff was known as an ossified man, his condition was actually quite the opposite. Orloff actually had a lack of bone density and this allowed his bones to bend and twist. Furthermore, his skin was paper thin and his musculature so atrophied that – with the aid of a bright spotlight – spectators could actually see the blood coursing through his veins. Not only that, but when a bright light was placed behind Orloff, the warm glow could actually been seen from the other side.
As strange as Orloff was – many promoters felt a need to further embellish it. As a result – to this day, some still claim that a person could read a newspaper through the body of Orloff. A claim made in an early pamphlet.
Orloff was known primarily as the Living Ossified and Transparent Man, but later in life he adopted the moniker of ‘The Human Window Pane’. His tendency to show himself as a medical specimen allowed him to travel around the world. Eventually he went into business for himself – he owned his own successful sideshow.
Orloff died in 1904.