2012-06-08 / Community

Greenstein Puts Teeth To Work Pulling Cars

Follows Father In Iron Man Role
By Howard Schwach


Greenstein would often amaze his Air Corps buddies with his father’s tricks. Greenstein would often amaze his Air Corps buddies with his father’s tricks. The last time Rockaway Beach resident Mike Greenstein pulled a car with his teeth was about four years ago in Coney Island. Greenstein was a mere 87-years-of-age at the time.

And, he says, he’s ready to do it again at 91.

In fact, the Surfside Houses resident says that he was ready to show his iron man stuff at Coney Island again last summer, but the show ran out of time.

Pulling cars with his teeth and other iron man feats is in Greenstein’s genes.

His father, Joe Greenstein, better known throughout the vaudeville world as “The Mighty Atom,” came to New York City from his native Poland in 1904.

The young man had tuberculosis and was told he didn’t have long to live.

He ran away with the circus when it came to town and came under the tutelage of the circus wrestler, who fed him and trained him to be a body builder and circus strong man.


Greenstein today at The Wave office with a plaque he recently received from York College and some of his father’s press clippings. Greenstein today at The Wave office with a plaque he recently received from York College and some of his father’s press clippings. He pursued that career for the rest of his life, first in the circus, later in vaudeville and then selling health products and lecturing on body building.

Mike was born in 1920 and, as a young child, he trained with his father, travelled with him to shows around the nation and watched him as he did his act.

His father would amaze onlookers by pulling trucks with his teeth, bending steel horseshoes and driving spikes with his bare hands. He played some of the major venues in America, including the old Madison Square Garden. His father is in Ripley’s Believe It or Not 11 times.

Mike followed his father’s every move, learning many of his tricks.


Greenstein, during his TWA years, pulling a company truck with his teeth. Greenstein, during his TWA years, pulling a company truck with his teeth. He even added the trick of bending a steel bar over his nose.

And, while Mike never followed his father professionally, he began to do his father’s tricks – first in the Army Air Corps, where he served during World War II, and then afterwards, when he worked as a mechanic for Howard Hughes at Floyd Bennett Field when it was still a municipal airport and later, for TWA.

“I enjoyed doing shows for the guys at the air bases where I served,” he said. “They got a kick out of me pulling a truck with a bunch of guys in it with only my teeth.”

“It’s all a case of mind over matter,” he said.

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