Born in 1880, Charles Albert Browning left home when he was only 16 and ran away with a travelling carnival. Legend has it that he started performing as a spieler and contortionist. He changed his name to ‘Tod’ Browning (tod is the German word for ‘death’). Browning performed as “the Living Hypnotic Corpse”, buried alive in a box with a secret ventilation system. People paid to watch ‘un-dead’ Tod in his coffin through a tube.
In 1913 Griffith split from Biograph and moved to California where worked as an assistant director Griffith’s Intolerance (where he even had a small role in the ‘modern story’ sequence) before he started as a director.
Based on the short story Spurs by Clarence Aaron "Tod" Robbins, the film Freaks (1932) concerns a love triangle between a wealthy dwarf, a gold-digging aerialist, and a strongman; a murder plot; and the vengeance dealt out by the dwarf.
The film was a flop and the reason for the Browning's professional fall.

Judgmental Observer, Vertigo Magazine