Chester Dolphin – Juggler, Balancer, and Sword Swallower

 

Chester Dolphin was born in 1907 in Worchester, Massachusetts (USA). He began his performing career in 1933 and was a very versatile artist, performing juggling, sword swallowing, unicycling, and hand balancing. His act changed often, sometimes being more of a juggling act and sometimes focusing more on his balancing or sword swallowing.

It appears that he was originally focused on sword swallowing and was known for swallowing sabers, long scissors, a stove poker, and a 23 inch long toothed carpenter saw.

Chester Dolphin 1934

A review of his act from 1940 states that he performed the following.

1. While balancing on hands, he dropped a ball from between his feet and caught the ball on a bounce on a stick held in his mouth.

2. He spun rings while doing a headstand (one on each leg, one on each arm. and one on stick in mouth).

3. He performed a three ball bounce juggle off a drum while doing a headstand.

4. He did a handstand on two stacks of blocks while spinning a pole with his feet– alternately throwing out blocks one at a time.

He performed this act without any talking or comedy.

Not long after this review, Chester Dolphin joined the US Armed forces and fought in Germany. After World War II, he resumed his career with an improved act. A review from 1945 reveals that he was performing more traditional juggling and had added talking and comedy to the act, which also included his wife Charmon, as an assistant. He performed the following routines during this show.

1. He opened with a ball and two stick routine that included bouncing of ball on the sticks and his forehead.

2. Next was a short routine with mouth stick and ball, climaxed by throwing the ball from his foot and catching it on the underside of the mouth stick while bending over backwards.

3. He then juggled five rings blindfolded, using a comedy blindfold gag.

4. With his female assistant sitting on a table, Chester did a one arm stand on her head while she juggles three balls. When she dropped a ball and reached to pick it up, it was exposed that Chester was balanced on a pole concealed behind his assistant.

5. He performed a three ball bounce juggle off a drum while doing a headstand.

6. Next was a routine with a bottle and a glass. The glass was filled with liquid and placed on the floor. The bottle was then balanced on Chester’s forehead and slowly inched backward to the back of his head. He then did a handstand over the glass, bent down, picked up the glass of wine with his teeth and walked on his hands. He then rose to his feet, inching the bottle back to his forehead while drinking wine from the glass in his teeth.

7. He spun rings while doing a headstand (one on each leg, one on each arm. and one on stick in mouth).

As you may have noticed in reading the two reviews of his act, he performed the inverted bounce juggle while doing a head stand invented and made famous by Bobby May. When May learned that Dolphin was copying his signature trick, he asked Chester to stop including the trick in his act. However, Dolphin continued to perform it, much to May’s dismay.

Bobby May performing his original trick

Chester Dolphin performed from 1933 until at least 1951. He and Charmon never had any children. He passed away on March 2, 1986. Below is the only known film of Chester Dolphin, filmed by Bobby Jule.

 

David Cain is a professional juggler, juggling historian, and the owner of the world's only juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He is a Guinness world record holder and 15 time IJA gold medalist. In addition to his juggling pursuits, David is a successful composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as well as the author of twenty-four books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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