There have been many siblings who have been professional jugglers. Some are widely regarded as a duo, such as the Reverhos Brothers (Andre and Gustave), Chiesa Brothers (Sergio and Vinicio), Rudenko Brothers (Igor and George), and the Peiro Brothers (Atillo and Hector). A recent article of mine (linked here) provided details about the careers of the Juggling Jems – Francine and Rita Rose. More recently, we’ve had pairings such as the Fusco Brothers (Maximiliano and Emiliano), Doubble Troubble (Nick and Alex Karvounis), the Peachock Brothers (Mark and Charlie) and the LaSalle Brothers (Jake and Marty). Other siblings weren’t known primarily as a team act, but rather well regarded solo artists. This was the case with Francis Brunn, Lottie, Brunn, and their half-brother Ernest Montego.
Lottie and Francis Brunn
In some cases, however, one sibling is significantly more famous (and skilled) than the other. There have been cases where the billing of the act only mentioned one sibling. This was the case with Ollie Young, who performed as Ollie Young and Brother or Ollie Young and Brothers.
When it comes to being the lesser known juggling sibling of another juggler, I know a thing or two. My identical twin brother David has always been better than me – it probably has something to do with me practicing for 15 minutes for every 2 hours he put in. Though we both worked as professional jugglers during the summers of high school and college at amusement parks and circuses, I decided to get a “real” job with my degree while David took up juggling as a career after college, and the gap of our skill grew even wider. The result is that he can juggle 8 balls and 7 clubs while I can only do 6 balls and 5 clubs. The gap of tricks is even bigger. There have been many times that people have seen me struggling in the gym at a festival and questioned why I was having so much difficulty with something that David did so easily. I had to explain to them that I wasn’t David. There was a period where I only went to one IJA Festival in the span of 8 years and sort of disappeared from the juggling scene. At that point, many new jugglers didn’t even know of my existence. So, I know a bit about being the “other” juggling Cain brother. You will sometimes see me wearing a name tag saying “Not David.”
With this background, I thought it would be fun to write an article covering some lesser known siblings of some of juggling’s greatest performers. Let’s look at four of them here.
Antoinette Mayer (Winnie May)
As the sister of Bobby May (real name Ludwig Mayer), one of the greatest jugglers ever, it isn’t surprising that Antoinette (Ann) Mayer was quite the talented juggler herself. Ann typically performed under the name Winnie May, and juggled with clubs, balls, top hats, plates, and tennis rackets. Alan Howard, who knew Bobby and Antoinette and provided information for this article, shares that she could even qualify five clubs using lightweight clubs. She debuted in 1934, having learned to juggle several years earlier, and performed in hotel floor shows, vaudeville tours, and World War II USO shows. Winnie copied some of the impressive tricks of her brother, including headrolls with a lacrosse ball as part of her three ball routine. Antoinette retired from performing in 1946 and was said to have almost totally given up juggling thereafter.
Ann Mayer (Winnie May)
Ann Mayer (Winnie May)
Ann Mayer (Winnie May)
It will likely come as a surprise to most people that Trixie had a younger sister who was a performing juggler. Her sister Hildegard, Hilda for short, was born in 1925 (most likely in Vienna, Austria) and came to the United States with her father Oscar and sister Trixie in 1938. Her juggling career wasn’t a lengthy one however. She performed for a few years in Philadelphia area nightclubs, and was a company skater with Ice Capades during the first year of Trixie’s tenure there. However, Hilda eventually got married and settled into domestic life in New Jersey. She and her husband John DiTullio then opened Friendly’s Lounge in Philadelphia, a favorite hangout for celebrities from sports, Hollywood, and Broadway. Hilda passed away in 1996.
Few jugglers were more revered during the 1970s and 1980s than Sergei Ignatov, so being his juggling brother must have been difficult for Leonid Ignatov. Still, this Russian juggler has had a very successful career performing with his wife Lidia as Duo Ignatov. Their act centers on Leonid juggling with his wife balanced on his head (or other parts of his body) while she juggles or manipulates objects in one form or another. At one point, Leonid performed a long run of 8 rings in the act, additional evidence that he is a very skilled juggling in his own right. The pair are the parents of Sergei Ignatov Jr., another well-known juggler.
Back in the 1980s, there weren’t many technical jugglers better than David Lucas (real name David Moreira, but also performed under the name David Lee). At the 1984 IJA Convention, teenager David successfully juggled 9 rings in the Numbers Competition and handily won the Juniors Championships. He was already a seasoned performer, having toured with Ice Capades since the age of 3. The challenge was that his older brother, Albert Lucas, was even better and overshadowed his younger brother. At that same 1984 Convention, Albert won the Individuals title, won the solo clubs and rings events in the Numbers Championships, and showed himself to be one of the best technical jugglers in the world at the time. David would eventually qualify 10 rings, and is still a performing juggler today. But, he is still the far lesser known sibling of the pair. Here’s a video of David performing in Ice Capades which has never been online previously, courtesy of Bobby Jule.