Friday, 12 November 2021

he’d fly through the air with the greatest of ease

Lawyer, cycling pioneer, acrobat and aerialist who popularised the gymnastic wear singlet that’s his namesake (see also) and inspired the song “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze,” Jules Léotard premiered his signature somersault (Salto) routine on three bars high above the audience on this day in 1859 at the Cirque Napoléon in Paris. Touring the world and writing vaudeville acts and other theatre pieces (preparing to retire from the riskier portions of his act as he grew older), the life of this Toulouse native was cut short in 1870, after Léotard contracted smallpox or cholera in Spain.