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 Charles Blondin

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Charles Blondin

  • Original Name Jean Francois Gravelet
  • Birth 28 Feb 1824 Saint-Omer, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
  • Death 22 Feb 1897 Ealing, London Borough of Ealing, Greater London, England
  • Burial Kensal Green, London Borough of Brent, Greater London, England
  • Plot Grave No.13198. Square 140. Row 1.
  • Memorial ID 102

Aerialist. Born Jean-François Gravelet in St. Omer, Pas de Calais in Northern France, the son of a gymnast. He attended the Ecole de Gymanse in Lyons, and debuted his act as The Little Wonder at age six. Orphaned by the age of ten, he began performing professionally to support himself. In 1851 he was joined the Ravel Troupe at Niblo's Garden when he adopted the stage name of Charles Blondin. It was while the troupe toured America in 1858 that he first saw and became obsessed with the idea of crossing Niagara Falls. His first application to perform at the Falls was denied, but on June 30, 1859 a crowd of 100,000 watched him become the first to cross the Falls 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. During the season, he performed his stunt eight more times, altering his performance as he walked blindfolded, in a sack, pushing a wheelbarrow, on stilts, carrying a man on his back, or sitting down midway while he cooked and ate an omelette. During the summer of 1860, Blondin returned to Niagara for a second successful year of tight rope walking across the Niagara River and on September 8, 1860, he completed his final tight rope crossing of the Niagara River. His fee was said to have been $500 per performance. Blondin remained popular for the rest of his life. He continued to thrill audiences in America for years before retiring to South Ealing, England. In 1861, at the request of the Prince of Wales, he appeared in London at the Crystal Palace, reenacting all his Niagara Falls stunts. In 1862 he toured Britain and the continent and at the age of 64 he returned to the United States for a series of exhibitions on Staten Island. His final performance was given in Belfast, Ireland in 1896. He succumbed to complications from diabetes at the age of 72 and was interred Kensal Green Cemetery beneath a red granite monument with marble portrait medallions surmounted by angel.

Bio by: Iola

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 102
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Charles Blondin (28 Feb 1824–22 Feb 1897), Find A Grave Memorial no. 102, citing Kensal Green Cemetery, Kensal Green, London Borough of Brent, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .