The Cabooter Family – Part 1 (Rudy Bolly and Alain Diagora)

If you ask even the biggest fans of juggling history to tell you about the Cabooter Family of jugglers, they will probably stare blankly back at you. That’s because all of the well-known members of the family have used stage names in their work. Let’s take a look at the first of these.

Rudy Bolly

Rudy Bolly was the stage name of Rene Cabooter. Hailing from France, he specialized in juggling on a slack wire during the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s. Many of his tricks were reminiscent of the work of Gustave Reverhos, whom you can read about here.

He passed away at the age of 97 on August 7th, 2018.

Alain Diagora

Alain Diagora was the stage name of Alain Cabooter. He was the brother of Rene / Rudy. Alain had three stages to his performing career. He started working with a partner doing juggling and acrobatics. He then had a successful performing career as a juggler, demonstrating some incredible tricks, some of which you can see below. Just as his brother’s work was similar to Gustave Reverhos, some of Alain’s tricks resembled Andre Reverhos’.

The third stage of his performing career was as the man behind the incredible acrobatic puppet Ioni. Alain created Ioni in 1968 after three years of hard work. You can watch this amazing act below.

The Raspyni Brothers, Daniel Holzman and Barry Friedman, worked with Alain in the mid 1980s. Daniel had the following to say about him.

“Barry and I worked with Alain Cabooter for three months in a revue show called “The Lido De Paris.” At that time in his career, Alain did an act with a two-foot tall mechanical puppet named “Ioni” that would do gymnastics on a polished silver bar. Even though he suffered from Parkinson’s disease, Alain was able to take medication right before the shows that would control the shaking of his hands long enough for him to control the delicate machinery that brought the puppet to life.

“Alain told us stories from his past as the top man in an acrobatic duo, and as a solo juggler. He had the amazing ability to balance head to head with his partner while revolving a hoop around each foot and juggling three clubs upside down at the same time. Alain enjoyed watching The Raspyni Brother’s act from the side of the stage but was amazed at our casual approach to our performances. He was used to the rigorous practice and warm up of a circus artist, and he would sit in wonder as Barry and I chatted and ate greasy pieces of chicken right before our part in the show.

“Alain was a tiny man who barely topped five feet tall, but age had not robbed him of his strength, or muscular physique. Even though he no longer juggled he could still hold a handstand for minutes at a time. Not only did Barry and I enjoy working with Alain, but we also spent a lot of our free time with him, too, body surfing at the local beaches. He loved the giant waves, and even after a wipeout, Alain would come out from the water with a big smile on his face.”

“I remember one story about Alain that involved water of another type.  The cast of the show all stayed together at the same hotel, and one night we were all getting rowdy and chasing each other around the halls. I got back to my room and was catching my breath when I heard a knocking at the door and Alain’s quavering voice from the other side pleading for me to let him in. I was worried that Alain might be in some sort of trouble, but as soon as I opened the door, I knew I had made a mistake.  Alain stood there in front of me with a wicked grin on his face and a full cup of water in his hands, with no hesitation he doused me with the cup’s contents and ran away laughing.”

“Barry and I visited with Alain several years after the show we did together and stayed overnight at his brother’s house in France. Alain’s brother Rudy was also a performer, and so was Alain’s nephew who did a great soccer themed foot juggling act under the name “Jean Claude.”

“Ioni the mechanical puppet was a magical act that was unforgettable, and so was Alain Cabooter. He was the highest paid performer in our show, and though Barry and I were paid less than half of what he made, the time we got to spend with him and see him work was priceless.”

Alain retired in the late 1980s due to Parkinson’s disease. He passed away in 2006.

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll look at the wonderful act and career of Rudy’s son, Jean Claude.

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 three books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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