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Gravelet, Jean-Francois Emile (Blondin, Charles)

Born: 1824 AD
Died: 1897 AD, at 72 years of age.

Nationality: French
Categories: Acrobat


1824 - Born Jean-Francois Emile Gravelet on the 28th of February in St. Omer, France. French funambulist or acrobat.

1829 - At the age of five years old he was sent to the École de Gymnase at Lyon.

         - After six months training as an acrobat, made his first public appearance as "The Little Wonder".

1933 - Blondin was orphaned and he began performing professionally.

1851 - Blondin was recruited by the agent of Mr. William Niblo to perform with the Ravel Troupe at Niblo's Garden.

1853 - He met and married his wife, Charlotte, in New York.

1858 - Blondin became obsessed with the idea of crossing the falls the first time he saw them.

1859 - Blondin was allowed to string his wire a mile further down-stream and on June 30th, he was the first man ever to cross Niagara Falls by tightrope.

         - A large crowd of 100,000 people watched him walk on a single three-inch hemp cord, 1,100 feet long and 160 feet above the falls at one side and 270 feet at the other.

         - He increased the risk by carrying his manager, Harry Colcord, across on his back on August 17th.

1861 - Blondin first appeared in London, at the Crystal Palace.

         - At the request of the Prince of Wales, he appeared in London at the Crystal Palace, reenacting all his Niagara Falls stunts before a backdrop of the falls.

1862 - He again gave a series of performances at the Crystal Palace, and in England.

1873 - He crossed Edgbaston Reservoir in Birmingham.

1896 - His final performance was given in Belfast, Ireland, at the age of 68.

1897 - He died of diabetes on 19th of February in Ealing, London at the age of 73 and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.

1992 - A statue built on the nearby Ladywood Middleway marks his feat.


Page last updated: 2:57pm, 13th Aug '07