Juggler's World: Vol. 39, No. 2

Joggler's Jottings

As the IJA was being formed...

Vaudeville juggling was declining, accelerated in Europe by World War II, which destroyed many variety houses in big cities. Television took its toll, removing live entertainment as the accepted form of entertainment for most folks. What has remained are a few cabarets and casinos, television and circuses. The quality of the art has changed accordingly. No more salon juggler acts with minute balances or team acts with giant scenes. The locus of juggling expertise has shifted also. While it declined in the West, the less industrialized Eastern bloc countries began government sponsoring circus arts schools. Hence, since the '70s, some of the worlds' greatest jugglers have been rarely seen by Western audiences.

Strongman juggler Paul Spadoni had settled down into life as an agent after a successful career that included diversity of juggling very light objects as well as heavy ones. He was a consummate salon juggler who also balanced a chair on his chin while his assistant was sitting in it! He died in 1952, after an active performing career that lasted into the 1930s.

His successor, the Austrian Captain Henry Smith, traveled into the '50s with 2000 pounds of luggage. He was the last man to catch a fired cannon ball, rotate an artillery piece carriage on his chin and catch heavy cannon balls and artillery shells on his neck.

Elsa Deluca and a partner were doing the same tricks from a female perspective, ending the legend of "the weaker sex" by catching 120 pound weights on their necks. Another female artiste, Charlotte Rickert, pulled an 800 pound tram spring and took on five men at once to prove her extraordinary strength in a career that conquered all important stages between 1935 and 1946.

The Austrian Frank Eders played from 1910 to the early '50s. With a very elastic chest bone and unbelievable expansion, he caught a 250 pound weight on his back and an 80 pound steel ball on his chest after tossing it into the air.

There seems to have been lot of strong man acts that lasted until the early 50s.

Sylvester Schaeffer Jr., the last of a Schaeffer dynasty that began with his grandfather, played the best European and American houses since the mid-1800s. He was forced to emigrate from Germany in 1939 at the pinnacle of his career because of his hatred for the Nazis. He lived in Hollywood until his death in 1949.

Rupert Ingalese, one of the best of the salon jugglers who dressed in dinner suits, died in 1958 at age 72. He had juggled 7 balls.

10 ball juggling had already been demonstrated by German female Jenny Jaeger, Englishman Chinko and Enrico Rastelli. The mysterious American Frank Le Dent supposedly had done 11.

While salon jugglers and restaurant juggling troupes developed at the same time around the turn of the century, restaurant juggling troupes are completely forgotten today. Salerno, who died Dec. 10, 1946, changed his act from day to day because he was absolutely sure of himself. In 15 minutes he performed 50 different tricks, including many innovative ones. In 1912 he invented torches which changed color from yellow to green to red several times in his act.

Joggler's Jottings / Index, Vol. 39, No. 2 / jis@juggling.org
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