Rose Sheldon – A Pictorial History

Rose Sheldon was a well-known and important American juggler who worked both as a solo performer and with a number of juggling teams / groups during the first half of the twentieth century.

Fitzgerald’s Eight Juggling Girls

Rose was first a member of Fitzgerald’s Eight Juggling Girls, which performed in the first decade of the 1900s. The troupe was headed by Michael E. Fitzgerald and featured intricate club passing formations. It was one of the first successful club passing troupes of over five performers. You can see many photos of them below. In many, Rose is easily recognizable.

Rose on the far right, labeled with her married name

Rose is top row, far right

Rose is second row from the top on the right

Rose is top row, far right

Rose is bottom row, far right

Rose is far left

Rose is top row, far right

Rose is second row from the top on the right

Rose is on the far left

Paul Shultz’s 6 Juggling Girls

Rose Sheldon then performed with Paul Shultz’s 6 Juggling Girls. Below are five photos of this troupe.

Rose then performed for a time as a solo act.

One of Rose Sheldon’s most famous partnerships was with juggling innovator and prop maker Harry Lind. Sheldon and Lind performed together as the Throwing Tabors, although they were sometimes billed as the Tossing Tabors. It was during this partnership that Rose became the first woman to pass 7 clubs. Lind and Sheldon worked together from around 1912 until at least 1916.

In the 1920s, Rose performed with a partner as Rose Sheldon and Brother. It isn’t known if this partner was actually her brother or not. Unfortunately, nothing is known about Rose’s family background or how she learned to juggle.

Baggett and Sheldon

In the 1920s Rose started performing with juggler Jim Baggett as Baggett and Sheldon. It is possible that Baggett was the “Brother” she was partnered with earlier, as their performance times appear to overlap.

In addition to performing, Rose also managed the British Female juggling troupe the Juggling Jewels for a time. You can click here to learn about the Juggling Jewels.

The Elgins

Rose and Jim retired their act in 1929 to run a bowling alley in Brooklyn, NY. They were successful, but missed show business. In 1930, they met with their former agent, Eddie Riley, and discussed forming a larger juggling troupe. It was originally called the Juggling Aces and featured another male juggler and three more women. They performed club passing and hat juggling. The act performed for two years, but a couple members dropped out. Then other well-known vaudeville jugglers, including former Fitzgerald’s 8 Juggling Girls member Lillian Millar, joined the troupe and the name was changed to the Elgins. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the Elgins were the best-known juggling troupe in the United States. The other members included Cal Kenyon and Tommy Breen. Eventually Lillian left the troupe and the act became a quartet. Also, sometime during the 1930s, Rose and Jim got married. The Elgins performed for 20 years. You can click here to read more about the Elgins. Below are photos and videos of Rose with the Elgins.

 

Rose and Jim lived in Massachusetts. Rose Sheldon passed away in 1959 at the age of 74, but should be remembered as one of the most influential and successful jugglers of the first half of the twentieth century.

 

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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