Monday, February 11, 2008

The fabulous Cristiani brothers

A gallery remembering one of circus' greatest legends

In our space devoted to the most peculiars among unlikeliest, can seem strange to consacrate a gallery to the most ordinary of the extraordinaries: acrobats.
But the Cristianis, in the 1930s and 1940s, happened to be one the most talented performing circus families of all times. This happened when a branch of this enormous Italian dinasty (hundreds of Cristianis survives in the business in both emispheres) crossed the ocean in the late 30s. This was the family of Ernesto Cristiani, father of ten sons. And this so generous performing progeniture can be the first peculiarity. Each of them was outstanding in their art. Of course, such a large family owned a circus. In the late 30s, invited to perform at the famed Cirque Medrano in Paris, they was remarked by an American agent for Ringling bros., and the legend began. In obscure times preparing for Italy, take the sea seemed an interesting possibility. While it is common in the circus the versatility of performers in the various specialities, the Cristiani excelled in everything they did: teeterboard acrobatics (when this was still a rarely practiced stunt), jumping over elephants, but above all horseback acrobatics. Probably the best horseback acrobats the world ever saw. Among them, the legendary Lucio Cristiani, the only of two men in the world to accomplis a somersault from the firts to the third gallopping horse, and the only one to accomplish a double twist pirouette horseback (see picture).
As if not enough, in the 50s they opened their own circus in America, that became one of the best and largest motorized circuses of the era, with top performers and a large menagerie.
At the novelties and wonders of the Cristiani is devoted this week's gallery.
With a surprise at the end: the complete short movie shooted about them by MGM for the famous Pete Smith's Specialties serie.
You won't believe your eyes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. de Ritis,
Great subject. I regret I missed these day's, as they were truely special.
Wade Burck

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