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December 29, 2012

Mlle. Latour (fl. late 1870s/early 1880s), circus acrobat, celebrated for ‘The Great Latour Leap for Life’(lithographic publicity flyer, the reverse with printed description [see below], USA, circa 1880)

‘THE GREAT LATOUR LEAP FOR LIFE. To the Patrons of the Great London Show:

‘The Beautiful Young Lady whose portrait adorns the front of this page will be presented in an Act original with herself, requiring more skill than ever before displayed by mortal, known as the “LATOUR LEAP FOR LIFE.”

‘She ascends a platform placed in the apex of the pavilion and at a signal and with a courage possessed by no man, makes a perilous dive downward SIXTY-THREE FEET, During her flight performing a triple somersault in mid-air, before gracefully alighting in the netting upon an elastic rubber platform, which sends her rebounding in the air a distance of twenty feet. M’LLE LATOUR is the only person living, man or woman, who attempts this marvelous performance. It is the successful accomplishment of an Act which is original with herself alone, and to the perfection of which she has industriously devoted, in persevering practice, half her life.’

THE GREAT LONDON SHOW exhibiting at Chester, Pennsylvania, October 1880

‘The Circus and Menagerie.

‘The chief place of amusement yesterday afternoon and last night was, of course, the lot on Third street, below Kerlin, where the Great London circus displayed their tents and menagerie. The number of people in attendance upon the great show was very large indeed, but such was the capacity of the great caravan tent that no one seemed to be crowded or inconvenienced in the least. The canvas inclosure devoted to the various departments of the great show, with the stables, boarding tents, etc., cover a very large extent of ground. Entering the first pavilion, the visitor is ushered into the presence of a dozen or more elephants. America, the baby elephant, and her mother, Hebe. The crowd quickly makes its way for the diminutive specimen of elephanthood, which is the greatest star of the show.

‘The baby is in reality a wonderful curiosity, and worthy of all the attention she is creating. In the same pavilion with Hebe and her offspring are a large number of cages containing some of the finest lions, tigers, leopards and other wild animals ever seen in Chester. In the other tent, the largest of all, and containing seats for 6000 or 8000 persons, the ring performances and the exhibition of trained animals take place. There are two large rings, and performances are carried on in both simultaneously. One is occupied by the great London Circus, and the other by the Great International Circus. There is a grant <I>entrée</I> and march, in which elephants, camels, ponies and a great number of equestrians appear, and then the double acts begin. Six performing elephants appear in one ring under the direction of their tamer, Mr. Arstingstall. These animals execute some very wonderful feats. A grand display of ground and lofty tumbling next takes place, one band of performers being under the leadership of James Murray and the other under Fred Runnels.

‘But the closing feature is, perhaps, the greatest of all. It is a grand exhibition of battoute leaping by nearly a score of performers, who make nothing of throwing double somersaults over elephants or into space. The crowning achievement of all is the perilous act of William H. Bacheler, who throws a double somersault over six elephants, one of the largest of the animals being elevated upon a pedestal. During the various acts Johnny Patterson, Billy Hayden and others of the corps of clowns keep the audience in the best of humor. For upward of two hours the performance goes on uninterruptedly, and every act is received deservedly with storms of applause. After the main exhibition there was a concert by the Georgia Cabin Singers, and other performances, one feature of which was the “leap for life” by Mlle. Latour, who jumped from the apex of the tent, some sixty feet. Last evening the whole exhibition was given under the illumination of electric lights.

‘In the evening it is estimated that fully 7000 people were present, but in the afternoon the attendance was not very large. The entire lot from Third street to the railroad was taken up with tents. They have 160 fine draught horses, which are stalled in four tents, and the horses consume two tons of hay and seventy-five bushels of oats daily. There are nearly four hundred persons on the pay roll of the circus. The eating arrangements are not under the charge of the circus, but are given to a gentleman who feeds the men, excepting performers who eat at a hotel, at so much per head. These tents are used for dining, and the cooking is done in pots on a crane and on a stove in a wagon. The way the four cooks and fifteen waiters wrestle pots, pans and kettles, and slash potatoes, turnips and steak around there is wonderful. The circus people have their own blacksmith and harness maker with them, and everything seems to be taken care of. It is thought they took a great deal of money out of the town which they left last night for Wilmington. It is certainly the largest and best circus ever exhibited in Chester.’ (Chester Daily Times, Chester, Pennsylvania, Thursday, 7 October 1880, p.3d)

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