1927 – 2020
Nick Gatto, best known in the juggling world as the step-father and coach of Anthony Gatto, passed away in Scottsdale, Arizona on November 13th, 2020. He was 93 years old. Nick was from Baltimore, Maryland and learned to juggle from his godfather at the age of ten. During high school, he was a well-rounded athlete, competing in weightlifting, wrestling, and boxing and learning gymnastics and acrobatics, all through the local YMCA. He began working as a performing acrobat at the age of 18.
Nick was a member of the Los Gatos Trio, a famous mid-twentieth century acrobatic group, along with Tom Kraft and Albert Moreira, the father of famed juggler Albert Lucas. The trio was originally called the Three Dukes, but later changed their name to The Aristocrats and finally to Los Gatos. They were discovered by iconic comedian Milton Berle when they were performing in a Baltimore nightclub. Los Gatos performed in Broadway shows and made two appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. They also appeared on many other television programs during the 1940s and 1950s. These included the Colgate Comedy Hour with Abbott and Costello, the Texaco Star Theater, Stage Show, the All-Star Revue, The Milton Berle Show, The Cavalcade of Stars, and the All-Star Thanksgiving Show. Below you can see their appearance on the Texaco Star Theater show, introduced by Milton Berle. Their appearance is at the 5:45 mark.
Los Gatos were made honorary members of the exclusive Hollywood Comedy Club.
Los Gatos, with Tom Kraft at the top, Albert Moreira bottom left, and Nick Gatto, bottom right Photo courtesy of Albert Lucas
In addition to being a very talented acrobat, Nick was also a performing juggler. He and fellow Los Gatos member Albert Moreira had a juggling act under the name of the Leonardos.
Nick Gatto collecting clubs thrown by Albert Moreira as the Leonardos
Nick also had a solo juggling act. Below you can see more photos of Nick demonstrating his juggling prowess.
Nick Gatto juggling 3 spools like cigar boxes at the 1957 IJA Convention
Nick Gatto juggling four clubs in 1976
Nick Gatto demonstrating the cups and spoons trick
Bill Dietrich and Nick Gatto passing 8 balls side by side
Nick retired as a performer in 1968. He then worked as a physical education instructor, coach, and trainer and became the director of the Baltimore YMCA, where he had trained as a youth. He eventually opened a pipe store in a mall in Ellicott City, Maryland.
Nick married Anthony Commarota’s mother Barbara when Anthony was very young. Barbara had worked as a trapeze artist for a few years at one point. Shortly before Anthony’s 5th birthday, Nick taught his step-son how to juggle three balls. The young boy took to the activity right away and the rest, as they say, is juggling history. The following video features Nick explaining about how he got Anthony started juggling.
Through Nick’s strict but skilled coaching and Anthony’s natural talent and determination, Anthony would become a child prodigy and eventually the greatest technical juggler of all time. Anthony took his step-father’s last name as his stage name and made his entrance into the juggling community when he won the IJA Juniors Championship in 1981 at the age of 8.
Anthony and Nick
Anthony and Nick passing rings in Nick’s pipe store
Nick assisted Anthony onstage for many years. You can see Nick dressed as the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland as he assists Anthony in the following performance from the Disney Celebrity Circus.
Here is another video of Nick assisting Anthony.
Nick assisted Anthony when Anthony won the IJA Individuals Championship in 1986 at the age of 13.
Nick continued to coach Anthony well into adulthood, as you can see in the following video from 2000.
Nick coached other jugglers, most notably famed juggler Francoise Rochais. In 2003, he was awarded the IJA’s Bobby May Award in recognition of his mentorship of other jugglers.
Francoise Rochais performs a 7 baton juggle
Nick was much loved by many in the juggling and entertainment communities.
Anthony Gatto, Lottie Brunn, and Nick
Nick and Anthony with Sergei Ignatov
Nick Gatto will be remembered as one of the best known juggling coaches of all time and a world class performer. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.