‘Little People’ take center ring in life

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Features Editor

Precious things come in small packages. If you don’t believe it, just ask Shandor and Elizabeth, the world’s smallest married couple.

Both were born in Hungary to "little people" and, therefore into the circus.

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Each secretly hoped for and dreamed of finding someone about their size to love.

Shandor traveled with one circus; Elizabeth traveled with another. They heard about each other and read about each other. From time to time, they even caught a glimpse of each other. And, from afar, they fell in love.

However, it was not until 1975 when Ringling Brothers was searching for the world’s smallest couple did fate put them together.

Years ago, sideshows were a big draw for the circus. People flocked into the tents to see the fire eater, the world’s smallest man, the bearded lady, the two-headed baby and a mired of other oddities.

Sideshows were often called "freak" shows and society deemed it cruel and insensitive to peer at these people. So, soon sideshows became a thing of the past.

"But, Ringling Brothers wanted to have sideshows as part of their Bicentennial show," Shandor said. "They wanted to have a great performance like the old original circus. They were looking for people like us to be in the sideshow. They came to Hungary looking. They found us."

Ringling Brothers found him; Ringling Brothers found her – and they found each other.

In 1976, Shandor and Elizabeth were married in California in the center ring of the Greatest Show on Earth and from that time forward – for the world’s smallest married couple – their love has been the most precious thing on earth.

"We could not have dreamed of a better life – each other and the circus," Shandor said. "The circus is all we know. It is our life. We are happy with it and with each other. Always happy we are."

The couple is accustomed to life in center ring. Their wedding was the subject of radio and television newscasts from coast-to-coast and made every major newspaper in the country. They are is listed in the Guiness Book of World Records and Shandor played in the movie "Barnum" with Burt Lancaster.

But, there greatest thrills come from being players in sideshows at the circus.

"Some people say, ‘Do you want people to come stare at you?’

and I say I am glad they come," Shandor said. "People come and talk to us and they are very kind. They like the old-fashioned origin of the circus and we are part of it. We love our life with the circus. People see us in the mall or in the market and they say, ‘Hello! Shandor and Elizabeth.’ We are little people and we have those who look at us for that, but people are wonderful to us. We are the same as everyone – just not as big."

Shandor said he has never wished that he had been born a "normal" size.

"I cannot have that," he said. "Why would I wish for something that cannot be.

My life is good. I am happy to be Shandor and to have Elizabeth. We are little people with a lot of love for each other and for life. Why would we wish for anything else?"