Michael and Tux – The Dinnerware Juggling Brothers

michaeltux2Michael and Tux (real name Victor) were the sons of the German tightrope walker and musical clown Willko. Their last name was Kopelky. 

The 2 Willkos, Michael and Tux’s parents

After his sons were born, Willko taught them music and juggling. The two boys were hailed as musical prodigies, playing accordion, violin, and their specialty, the xylophone.

Michael and Victor (Tux)

Performing in circuses and variety theaters, the boys combined juggling with their musical skills, as you can see in the following photos.

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During the 1940s, Willko decided to stop performing and manage his sons’ performing careers.

Michael

As you can see in the above photos, Michael originally juggled balls, rings, and sticks. He performed that act in Germany, England, Luxembourg, Denmark, and Russia. At the end of World War II, Michael debuted his new juggling act, appearing as “The Head Waiter.” He would go on to perform all over Europe and was a star in South Africa. He married Lora Eston, an animal trainer who became famous for her act with a talking parrot.

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Michael juggled plates, did a routine with a tray, bottle, and napkin, performed a balancing trick using a shot glass, and did a wonderful routine with a tray, saucer, and tea cup.

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As good as those routines were, it was his finale routine that made Michael a star. Originally he had wanted to perform the cups and saucers routine invented by Ferry Mader, where the juggler kicks up a series of saucers and cups onto his or her head. Willko told his son that too many other jugglers, such as Rudy Horn and Dieter Tasso, were already performing wonderful versions of that routine and that doing something a bit different would be best. The version that they settled on can be seen and understood by viewing the following photos.

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Note that Michael sometimes used three rows of dinnerware, sometimes four, and sometimes five. It took Michael a year and a half to learn this skill and stated that he was so confident in his mastery of it that he considered it foolproof. Michael was a successful juggler from the mid 1940s until at least the late 1970s. He passed away in 2000 in Essen, Germany.

Below is a video showing Michael’s wonderful act.

Tux

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Michael’s brother Victor began performing as a juggling cook in 1952, taking the stage name of Tux. Prior to this, he had been performing mostly as a dancing accordion player. Instead of appearing as a waiter like his brother, Tux was dressed as a cook and had a slightly different act, juggling ladles, whisks, pots, and pans.

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Tux also juggled potatoes using a ladle in place of one of his hands.

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Like his brother, Tux ended his act with more or less the same routine as Michael.

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Tux ‘s juggling career started after Michael’s and ended much earlier, as he stopped performing in 1975 to become an agent for variety performers in Hamburg, Germany. These two brothers should be remembered as great performers that shared an incredible finale.

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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