Cliquot was one of America’s premier sword swallowers, popular on vaudeville and variety stages during the last quarter of the 19th century. So little is known about him that even the Sword Swallowers Hall of Fame, has only the bare minimum. His real name was Frederick McLone or Mcland and he was born in Chicago, but he preferred to give out that he was a French Canadian named Chevalier Cliquot. All that comes down to us are his feats: he could swallow 19 swords at a time, he could swallow a 22 inch bayonet, he could swallow a sword that was weighed down by two 18 pound dumbbells. And he seems to be the man who invented the now common trick of swallowing an illuminated light bulb. I wonder what appeared over his head when he got the idea?
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.