Angelo Faticoni (1859-1931) was a professional stunt artist who performed a number of impressive feats of buoyancy such as staying afloat in the water for fifteen hours despite having a twenty pounds of lead tied to his ankle and swimming across the Hudson River tied to a chair (and the chair was weighted with lead). This earned him the nickname “The Human Cork”. He discovered that he could easily float in the water for long periods of time during his childhood. However, he didn’t use his odd ability professionally until his later years.
Faticoni was an enigma. There were several speculations on how he could perform those stunts. Some said that his body composition must be different from the average humans while others surmised that he had some kind of supernatural power. The psychics at the time thought that he was somehow helped by the spirits in keeping him afloat. The medical community was baffled and unable to come up with a conclusive explanation. Faticoni had promised to reveal the secret of his stunt, but he passed away before he was able to do so. He died on August 2, 1931, at the age of 72.
The following is an obituary of Faticoni published in New York Herald Tribune, Aug. 13, 1931:
Faticoni could sleep in water, roll up into a ball, lie on his side, or assume any position asked of him. Once he was sewn into a bag and then thrown headforemost into the water, with a twenty-pound cannonball lashed to his legs. His head reappeared on the surface soon afterward, and he remained motionless in that position for eight hours. Another time he swam across the Hudson tied to a chair weighted with lead. Some years ago he went to Harvard to perform for the students and faculty. He had been examined by medical authorities who failed to find support for their theory that he was able to float at such great lengths by the nature of his internal organs, which they believed were different from those of most men. Faticoni had often promised to reveal the secret of how he became ‘The Human Cork,’ but he never did.