Thus far, Evan Peter's portrayal of Jimmy Darling a.k.a. "Lobster Boy" has been pretty tame. Yes, he's committed a crime or two. But in the grand scheme of American Horror Story history, he's been rather on the docile side.
Sadly, the real-life inspiration for Evan's character, who is more realistically portrayed as a dilapidated figurine in the opening credits to [American Horror Story](series:206668): Freak Show, is much more sinister. Don't get me wrong, Grady Stiles Jr. wasn't scary because of his ectrodactyly, the congenital disorder which gave him split, claw-like hands and feet. He was just an extremely shady character in his everyday life.
Grady Stiles Jr. came from a long line of generations which suffered from ectrodactyly. Stiles Jr. rose to prominence in the traveling sideshow community at a very young age and eventually became one of the 20th centuries greatest attractions. Given the hardships he faced, it is understandable that he struggled in life, but he took it too far.
One of his four children, Grady Stiles III, who also has ectrodactyly and toured with his father and sister as the "Lobster Family," was featured in AMC's Freakshow. Stiles III stated during filming:
I'm not a fan of my dad as a person...My father was racist [and] abusive. When I cried, [he was like] 'I'll give you a reason a to cry.'
Stiles Jr. was a physically and verbally abusive drunk with a bad temper. In 1979 he was convicted of third degree murder for killing Jack Layne, his daughter's fiancé. He ended up serving no time and getting off with only 15 years probation due to a sympathy verdict. According to The Huffington Post, he had cirrhosis from drinking mass quantities of Seagrams and had contracted emphysema from burning through 60 cigarettes a day.
This lifestyle led him to be so hated by his family that in 1992 he was murdered by a hit man, Chris Wyant, hired by his wife Maria Teresa Stiles. While there is a lot of speculation over how involved Maria and her son, Harry Glenn Newman Jr., from a previous marriage were actually involved, Stiles III clarified the story further in Freakshow.
What actually happened was my mother and my dad had gotten in another fight as usual and my mother had made the comment that something needed to be done...My brother had overheard that and went to the neighbor kid and told him that something had to be done.
My brother thought that meant scaring him or beating [my dad] up or something to make him realize that he was going to lose his family. A little while later, my dad was shot.
Wyant was sentenced to 27 years in jail, Maria was sentenced to 12, and Newman received life in prison without parole. Stiles was so disliked by his community that everyone refused to be his pallbearer.
Despite all of the pain that Grady Stiles Jr. caused to those around him, his son grew up and from every account he seems like a very nice guy. Still, he was able to learn and understand a valuable lesson from his father:
Thank you for showing me who not to be and maybe you can appreciate who I became because of that...You were a drunken bastard but you were my dad.
To see some real footage of Grady Stiles Jr. discussing life in the carnival, check out this video below!