Denis O’Hare recently tweeted an intriguing “American Horror Story: Freak Show” spoiler.
O’Hare shared a photo of a script titled “Edward Mordrake Pt. 1.” This could be a reference to Wes Bentley’s character named Eddie, a “dark tormentor” who is “hell bent on revenge.” Kathy Bates’ character is the target of his wrath.
Interestingly, there is a real historical figure named Edward Mordrake—or at least he might be real. According to “The Human Marvels,” the curious case of Mordrake survives only through stories passed on over the ages. He’s described as handsome 19th century heir to one of the peerages in England, and it is said he was quite the charmer. However, his good looks and charisma couldn’t distract from the hideous second face hiding on the back of his head.
Mordrake’s “evil twin” had eyes that would follow those who dared to stare at it, and it would snarl and twist its lips as if trying to speak. Mordrake allegedly committed suicide at age 23 to escape the terrible face.
If Mordrake was real, this wouldn’t be the first time “American Horror Story” based a character on a historical figure. Let’s take a look back at how the horror TV series has taken real people and twisted their stories.
1. The Black Dahlia in “American Horror Story: Murder House”
The mysterious murder of Elizabeth Short has fascinated fans of the macabre for decades. Elizabeth Short was brutally murdered in 1947, her corpse cut in half and a horrible “Glasgow smile” carved on her face. The identity of her killer remains unknown to this day.
Short was played by Mena Suvari in season one’s “Murder House,” and her killer was imagined as Dr. David Curran, a fictional dentist working out of the haunted home. He sexually assaulted Short while she was under nitrous oxide, and he accidentally killed her by giving her too much of the gas. The ghost of wannabe Frankenstein, Dr. Charles Montgomery, offered to dispose of her body, but the sadistic surgeon gleefully mutilated it instead.
2. Anne Frank in “American Horror Story: Asylum”
This young holocaust victim’s story about experiencing adolescence during one of the darkest times in history has moved readers for decades, and the young girl’s death in a concentration camp is reminder of just how cruel and cold-blooded the Nazis were.
Season two’s “Asylum” changed Frank’s fate by hinting she didn’t actually die; somehow she became a housewife named Charlotte Brown driven mad by memories of the holocaust. Franka Potente portrayed the confused Brown, whose claims of being Frank seemed crazy at first. However, her knowledge of the holocaust and Nazi war criminal Dr. Arden’s dark past were evidence she was telling the truth about her identity. Arden eventually erased her memories of the holocaust by giving her a transorbital lobotomy.
3. Marie Laveau in “American Horror Story: Coven”
The real Laveau was born in New Orleans in 1801. She would grow up to become one of the city’s most legendary figures, The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. According to the Voodoo Museum, much of her colorfully history is just folklore. She was a nurse and spiritual healer who blended voodoo and Catholicism, and she’s also described as “a social and political liberal and humanist with desire to heal, to sooth, to nurture and to do good works.” One of the most interesting tidbits in her biography is that the “free woman of color” actually owned slaves.
Angela Bassett’s “Coven” character possessed real voodoo powers, and a deal with voodoo devil Papa Legba made her Laveau ageless. She used voodoo dolls to inflict pain on victims, brought the dead back to life, and used mind control. Obviously the real Laveau wasn’t capable of practicing magic—her only “power” was the capability to mix together herbs to create medicines for the sick.
4. Delphine LaLaurie in “American Horror Story: Coven”
The real LaLaurie was almost as sadistic as Kathy Bates’ vain, racist character. According to Flavorwire, the citizens of New Orleans discovered this when they broke into the society woman’s slave quarters during an 1834 fire at the LaLaurie house. They reportedly found “seven slaves, more or less horribly mutilated… suspended by the neck with their limbs stretched and torn from one extremity to the other… they had been confined… for several months in the situation.”
However, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans didn’t curse LaLaurie to spend all eternity buried alive. After an angry mob destroyed what was left of her house, LaLaurie simply fled to Europe. But you never know—Papa Legba eventually could have made LaLaurie pay for her sins.
5. The Axeman of New Orleans in in “American Horror Story: Coven”
There really was a serial killer named The Axeman of New Orleans, and he actually penned the letter that was read aloud at the beginning of “The Axeman Cometh.” “The Times-Picayune” newspaper published the words of the murderous jazz enthusiast. Before sending the letter, he had been terrorizing the city by sneaking into homes in the middle of the night and killing the inhabitants with axes. In his infamous letter, he promised to spare the lives of anyone who played jazz music in their homes on March 19, 1919. The city of New Orleans heeded his words, and no one died that night. The last attack occurred in October 1919, and the Axeman was never caught.
“Coven” tried to explain the disappearance of the Axeman by having a coven of young witches kill Danny Huston’s serial killer character off. If this is how the Axeman really met his end, hopefully another coven of witches hasn’t used a Ouija board to contact the killer and set his bloodthirsty spirit free.
6. Stevie Nicks in “American Horror Story: Coven”
The real Nicks has dealt with witch rumors for a very long time. They seem to stem from her love of dark dresses and her claim that “Rhiannon” is a song about a Welsh witch. According to “The Chicago Sun Times,” the Fleetwood Mac front woman once got so tired of the Wiccan accusations that she changed her entire wardrobe. “I spent thousands of dollars on beautiful black clothes and had to stop wearing them for a long time because a lot of people scared me,” she said.
However, the songstress embraced the witch whispers on “Coven.” She confirmed Misty Day’s claims she was a real sorceress, but she put the black magic rumors to rest by playing a kind-hearted “white witch.”
Are there any historical figures you would like to see on an upcoming episode of “American Horror Story?”
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