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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 635

updated
Saturday, 5 December 2009

FOOTLIGHT NOTES
images of theatre and other popular entertainment
1850s-1920s

Lulu

a carte de visite photograph of Lulu, the 'female' trapeze artist, formerly known as the boy acrobat
El Niño Farini, was actually Sam Wasgate (b. 1855),
the adopted son of William Leonard Hunt (1838-1929),
known to the world as the tightrope walker and acrobat, The Great Farini.

(photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, circa 1873)

'The New York Evening Post thus discourses on the female gymnast who is at present delighting metropolitan audiences.:
'"Lulu" is the young woman who swings on the trapeze. The trapeze is over the heads of the audience, and the people stare at her feats of nimbleness and strength as Spanish women do at a bull fight. A net is spread underneath to catch her if she falls; but those who enjoy the show would probably feel additional delight if the net should some time give way and drop her, mangled, to the floor. She also jumps - that is, a 4,000-pound weight drops suddenly on one end of a lever, and the other end, striking a platform on which she stands, send her some thirty feet in the air, where she catches to a stationary platform, amid rapturous applause. She is called the "eighth wonder of the world," and if jumping like a frog makes a young woman wonderful at all, the play-bill describes her truly.'
(The Galveston Daily News, Galveston, Texas, Thursday, 22 May 1873, p.1b)

'At a recent performance in a Dublin circus [Hengler's] Lulu, the well-known gymnast, met with a terrible accident. She is propelled from a spring platform about sixty feet into the air, and then catches a trapeze. On this occasion she missed the catch, and did not fall perpendicularly on the net intended to receive her, but sideways against the gallery railings, and thence rebounded into the arena. Her injuries are most fearful, and the doctors entertain no hope of her recovery.'
(Galveston Daily News, Galveston, Texas, Tuesday, 5 September 1876, p.3f)

'The London Athenaeum thinks it may be worth stating that ''Lulu,'' the female gymnast, whose recent fall from a trapeze in Dublin has excited public attention, is a man.'
(Galveston Daily News, Galveston, Texas, Sunday, 17 September 1876, p.8g)

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