Great Jugglers of the Past

Enrico Rastelli film, 800451 bytes, 698 frames, 160x120.
Enrico Rastelli, 1896-1931, is often cited as the greatest juggler who ever lived. This is the only film of him known to exist, made in 1929 at the La Scala Theater in Berlin, Germany. It includes juggling 4 sticks, juggling 6 plates while spinning a ring on his leg and skipping a rope turned by two assistants, jumping rope with a soccer ball bouncing on his head, soccer ball head rolls, brief juggling of 5 and then 4 large balls, and bouncing 2 balls on his head.

Original film transferred to VHS video, then made into QuickTime on a Mac, and converted to MPEG with Sparkle, Version 2.0.2.

Bobby May, 5 balls, 259345 bytes, 267 frames, 160x120.
Bobby May was long known as America's greatest juggler. This is the 5 ball routine from the film of his act in 1933 at the La Scala Theater in Berlin, Germany. It starts with a force bounce that is brought up into a high cascade, followed by throws under both legs, a half-shower, a half-shower with shoulder throws, and a full shower. The balls are then dropped to the floor from the full shower and 4 are caught in his hat after a bounce. The last ball bounces from his forehead to his neck, rolled down his back, and is caught in his hat held between his legs as he somersaults forward.

Bobby May, 4 clubs, 342754 bytes, 202 frames, 160x120.
Bobby May performed this brief 4 club routine for a fan's movie camera, starting with a series of 4 clubs dropped to his foot and kicked back into the 4 club pattern, changing to a 4 club half shower, moving to synchronous throws and 4 club splits, and finishing with a high throw caught behind his back. But that's not all. Bobby did this entire routine with a fifth club balanced, base down, on his forehead.

Francis Brunn, impossible trick, 704855 bytes, 219 frames, 160x120.
This is a segment of an appearance by Francis Brunn on the Jack Benny television show in 1961, and shows what I often describe to others as an utterly impossible trick. Francis holds 2 large balls in his left hand, which do nothing except to demonstrate that his left hand is not used. He holds a large ball in his right hand, and kicks another large ball from his foot to his forehead. He spins the ball in his right hand on his finger, and then drops the ball on his forehead to the back of his neck as he bends forward. He then straightens up, dropping the ball on his neck down his back. Just before it reaches the ground, he kicks it with his heel, causing it to fly back up over his head in front of him. As it descends, he catches it perfectly, on top of the other ball, still spinning on his finger! Note that this is not done with editing, or by giving him many chances until he got it. This is one of the tricks Brunn performed in his act, in front of live audiences, every night.

Francis Brunn, combination trick, 1376233 bytes, 407 frames, 160x120.
This is Francis Brunn's famous combination trick, also from his appearance on the Jack Benny show. Standing on his left leg, Francis spins 2 large rings on his right leg, and 2 more on his right arm, as he spins a large ball on his right forefinger. A smaller ball is perched on top of a stick held in his mouth, while another ball sits on a stick balanced on his forehead. At the same time, Francis juggles 3 rings effortlessly in his left hand. Though often copied by many, this trick has never been duplicated completely by anyone with Brunn's excellent style and showmanship.

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