Historical Juggling Films – Recent Finds and Remaining Gaps

It’s hard to keep up with all of the new videos of jugglers which are released every day.  Via our cell phones, almost everyone has a video camera with them at all times.  Editing and posting videos is a snap as well.   However, it didn’t used to be that way, of course.  Video film cameras used to be expensive, clunky, and basic.  Before digital formats, there was VHS, other tape formats, 16mm, and 8mm film.

RECENT FINDS

Surprisingly, many rare, previously unknown (to the general public and juggling community) films of historical jugglers have been popping up recently.   In just the last few months, very clear films of Rudy Horn, Bob Bramson, and Paolo Bedini (Enrico Rastelli’s nephew) were posted online that had not been seen before.

It isn’t uncommon for links to new videos of Sergei Ignatov and other Russian jugglers to appear online as well.  Jenny Jaeger’s son Sasha regularly shares many of these on his mom’s Facebook page.

Some of these new finds are due to the digitization of personal films shot by audience members.  The IJA has recently released Members-Only videos of films shot by Bobby Jule which fit this description.  We’ve already released multiple acts of Bobby May, Trixie, and Francis Brunn.  Others have been used in eJuggle articles by other writers as well.  The IJA and David Cain are in the process of digitizing some of the 8mm and 16mm films from Paul Bachman’s collection for future publication as well.  This includes over one hour of footage from the very first (1948) IJA Convention!

British Pathe put a number of videos a few years ago of jugglers from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s (and other times). If you haven’t checked these out, please do at https://www.britishpathe.com/.

Many universities, circus organizations, and other archives are digitizing their collections and making those available.  These include some very high quality films (such as the Bedini footage) of great acts from the past.

LIMITED OR MISSING VIDEOS

There are some jugglers for which only a very limited amount of film exists.   The aforementioned Jenny Jaeger is considered one of the best jugglers of all time, and did many extraordinary tricks in her act.  Her son states that her act was filmed numerous times by the press, yet only the following 48 second clip is known to still exist.

Even though the number of films of jugglers the likes of Trixie and Bobby May have increased a great deal over the past few years, there are numerous TV appearances by them and many others that have never materialized in modern times.   The following is a list of TV shows that Trixie appeared in, yet none have been located.

  • Texaco Star Theatre – July 27, 1948
  • Texaco Star Theatre – October 4, 1949
  • CBS’s Tonight on Broadway – Trixie and the cast of Howdy Mr. Ice –  October 30, 1949
  • Cavalcade of Bands – January 17, 1950
  • Uncle Milty’s Television Christmas Party December 1950
  • Super Circus on ABC – March 30, 1952
  • Spade Cooley Show – 1955
  • Music On Ice (All American Jubilee) – July 10, 1960

Juggler John McPeak won the grand prize on an episode of the original Gong Show and is offering a reward for anyone who can supply him with copy of the video of this appearance. Kit Summers has no copy of his win on the Gong Show either.

Joe Pegnato, better known as Bobby Jule, asked me to try to find a clip of him on the Paul Winchell Circus Time TV show in 1957, and I was able to do so in less than 20 minutes (and for only around $10), yet I’ve been unable to find three other film clips of him on TV which he is seeking:

  • Sunday Night At the Palladium – June 11, 1961 – London, England (with Tommy Steele, Bela Rudenko, Bobby Jule, Tiller Girls)
  • The Palladium Show – June 11th, 1961 – London, England
  • The Palladium Show – May 28, 1966 – London, England
  • Vorentscheidung Duetsche Schlagerfestspiele 1966 – May 21, 1966 – West Berlin, Germany (Top Singers of Europe, Bobby Jule)

**WORD OF WARNING** – There are many websites that list having many of the early TV broadcasts including some of the above, but many (most) don’t, and are instead fake sites trying to get you to subscribe, send you malicious internet viruses, or other negative actions, so be careful.  However, if anyone can find any of these, please share them with me so I can help add to the archives of juggling videos currently available (you can have the reward money from John if you find that one!).

NO VIDEO OF JUGGLERS

There are still other jugglers for which no video is known to exist.

None of the big three “Gentlemen Jugglers” – Cinquavelli, Kara, and Salerno – have video that is publicly available.   These performers were giants in the world of entertainment during their time, and surely film was made of their famous feats.  A famous American juggler is said to have a film of Cinquevalli stored in Europe with a friend, but he isn’t sure he can retrieve it and hasn’t seen it in over 20 years.

Selma Braatz and Frank LeDent are also jugglers from around the turn of the 20th Century who accomplished amazing feats, but for which no video is known to exist.

More recently, jugglers such as Eduardo Raspini, have no film archiving their acts.

In the 1950s, Rita and Francine Rose performed as The Juggling Jems on television over 25 times, yet Francine Rose Crumbaugh reports that she has no film of their act together.

VIDEO DETECTIVES SOUGHT

If you think you have some skills to find some of these missing juggling videos / films, please feel free to look and share your results.  Please do heed my Word of Warning provided earlier though (neither I nor the IJA are responsible for any negative consequences for the perils of your searches).  Good luck!

Scott Cain is an IJA Life Member, IJA Numbers Championships Co-Director, a former Numbers gold-medalist, Teams medalist as a member of Raising Cain, Musical Theater Critic for Talkin’ Broadway (Cincinnati/Dayton), and assistant curator/researcher for the Historical Juggling Props Museum (www.historicaljugglingprops.com). He and his family live in Cincinnati, Ohio (USA).

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