Although the town benefits from a position on a major navigable waterway, Middletown?s success is primarily due to the energy, creativity, and diversity of its people. These include James Riley, whose autobiography detailing his trials as a white slave in Northern Africa showed millions of Americans the evils of slavery; Max Corvo, who helped the World War II Italian underground defeat the fascist regime; and Christie Ellen McLeod, longtime chief pathologist at Middlesex Memorial Hospital. Middletown can boast of athletes such as Helen ?Babe? Carlson, a tremendously strong competitor who participated on men?s baseball teams; Willie Pep, who, while going for the world featherweight title, had a record of 134 wins and only one loss; and Corny Thompson, who sparked the University of Connecticut basketball program?s rise to national prominence. More notables include Allie Wrubel, a prolific songwriter and Academy Award winner for his song ?Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah;? Vivian McRae Wesley, a teacher, reading director, and leader of Middletown?s African American community; and Francesco Lentini, who was born with three legs and appeared in every major circus and carnival.