A tightrope walker most famous for his extraordinary repeated crossings of Niagara Falls. He first did this in 1859, on a tightrope 335 m long, at a height of 50 m above the water. His later crossings were made blindfolded; in a sack (I can't even visualize that); trundling a wheelbarrow; on stilts; carrying a man* on his back; and sitting down midway to make and eat an omelette.

Born Jean-Fran├žois Gravelet in St-Omer on 28 February 1824, he entered the Ecole de Gymnase at Lyons at the age of five, and six months later (aged six) first appeared on stage, under the name of The Little Wonder. He later adopted the byname Blondin (sometimes Charles Blondin).

He appeared at the Crystal Palace in 1861, turning somersaults 50 m above the ground, and seems to have spent most of his time in Britain thereafter. His last appearance was in Belfast in 1896, and he died on 19 February 1897 in London and is buried in Kensal Green cemetery.

Polite thankyou to Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Not to be confused with Blondel the minstrel, though I always do and have to look them up.

* TheBooBooKitty tells me the man was his manager, and Blondin swore never to do it again, because the poor man was shaking so much it made it hard to concentrate.

Blondin, Charles, a French rope dancer, born at St. Omer, Pas-de-Calais, in 1824, was trained at Lyons, where he made such rapid progress that he was designated "The Little Wonder." After making a several years' tour of the United States, on June 30, 1859, before a crowd of 25,000 persons, he crossed the Falls of Niagara on a tight-rope in five minutes; on July 4, he crossed blindfold, trundling a wheelbarrow; on Aug. 19, he carried a man on his back; on Sept. 14, 1860, he crossed on stilts in the presence of the Prince of Wales. His last appearance was in 1888. He died Feb. 22, 1897.


Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

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