William Durks had a hard life. He was born in Jasper, Alabama, in 1913, to a farming family. As a young man he led a dismal life as a struggling sharecropper in rural Alabama. However, hard his life was on the farm and his socio-economic situation, nothing compared to his facial disfiguration. Durks was born with frontonasal dysplasia, a birth defect that occurs when the two halves of an embryo's face fail to come together completely. He had a deeply cleft lip and palate and a bifid, or double, nose, each half having only one nostril. In addition, he was born with both eyes sealed shut and had them surgically opened when he was a small boy; most accounts indicate that he was blind in one eye. A close friend once said of him that he "looked like he had been hit in the face with an axe." Luck struck and he was discovered at a carnival and invited to join, touring the nation as a sideshow until the end of his life. There he found fame and fortune, and the love his life. He married Mildred "Milly" Durks, the alligator-skinned woman. Milly died in 1968, and Durks continued working until he passed away on May 7, 1975.