Edgar Randolph Parker graduated from dental school in 1892 at the age of twenty, even though he wasn’t much of a student. When his private practice didn’t take off immediately, he decided to advertise, despite advertising being an ethical taboo among dentists at the time. But Parker didn’t just advertise- he put on a street show! He promised his tooth extraction would be painless, a claim that was bolstered by the cocaine solution he gave to his patients. Under advice from a former employee of P.T. Barnum, Parker took his show on the road, setting up in small town after small town, offering entertainment by giving lectures on dental hygiene and having his traveling band play. If a volunteer patient screamed and moaned, the band would just play louder.
Parker claimed to have pulled 357 teeth in one day, which he wore on a necklace. Eventually, the dental board of California threatened to pull his license over false advertising for using the “painless” slogan, so Parker had his first name legally changed to Painless! Read about the dentist who found great fame through showmanship at Amusing Planet.
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