Betty Gorham was born on July 26th 1931 and began juggling at age 13. By age 14, she was already juggling clubs and had been brought to the attention of jugglers through Roger Montandon’s Jugglers’ Bulletin. One of the first jugglers she saw perform was Massimiliano Truzzi. Truzzi’s performance showed Betty that a good act was more than just a collection of tricks, but that showmanship was equally important. In February 1946, Betty began writing letters and columns for The Juggler’s Bulletin on a regular basis. She loved corresponding with jugglers and then reporting back the latest news. Once the IJA was formed, she was not only the first female to join, but the first person period. As Member #1, Betty brought a welcomed youthful exuberance and feminine touch which was opposite of most of the founders and charter members. She continued supplying material for the Juggler’s Bulletin and then its replacement, the IJA Newsletter.
After graduating school, Betty became a full- time juggler, performing in nightclubs, fairs, circuses and on TV. She performed with spinning balls, clubs, rings, devil stick, tennis rackets, and combination tricks. Betty was a regular at many early IJA conventions and served as an officer. In 1961, she met Ken Willer, a hand balancer, and they were married the next year. They continued to perform separately and together for a number of years thereafter. Betty was made an Honorary Life Member of the IJA in 1996. Betty and Ken retired to California. Betty passed away on September 11th, 2016 due to complications from pneumonia. Our condolences go out to her husband, Ken.
Below are a variety of promotional photos of Betty (and sometimes Betty and Ken), followed by a video of the 1950 IJA Convention that features Betty wearing a white dress. She juggles three clubs at the beginning of the video and does ball spinning at 23 seconds.