(Before we begin the article, I do wish to point out the inappropriate and cringeworthy nature of the redface aspect of the performers examined in the article. While having European and Caucasian performers depicting themselves as Native American was common place a hundred years ago, that doesn’t excuse the practice in any way. To learn more about the issue, please feel free to click here or here for additional information.)
The Arizona’s were a Wild West Juggling Troupe that was originally founded at the start of the twentieth century by the Belgian juggler Leikens, who had worked with the Perezoffs. By 1912, it was taken taken over by Italian acrobat Adhemar Mazzoni, his daughter Paulette Mazzoni, and her husband. They specialized in juggling large tomahawks, but the act also included firing pistols while juggling them, whip cracking, tomahawk swinging (like club swinging), rug spinning, torch juggling, and plate juggling. The Mazzoni version of the Arizona’s were active from at least 1912 to 1950. I encourage you to open the images in another browser window to see larger versions of them throughout this article.
The line up changed over time. The act originally consisted of two men and one woman, but when Adhemar retired, Paulette and her husband performed as a duo. Eventually their daughter joined the act to make it a trio.
The star of the act was definitely Paulette Mazzoni, who was billed as Miss Arizona. She was a very talented juggler, able to juggle four large axes while balancing a pole on her forehead.
Paulette’s husband was billed as Sitting Bill, a parody of the famous Lakota leader Sitting Bull. He performed foot juggling, as you can see below.
The Arizona’s were very talented and successful, but are mostly forgotten today. If you have any more information about them, please let me know.