Alan Corelli (ca. 1895-1980) had an unusual act: essentially he was a strong man who specialized in lifting other people up…and rendering himself almost impossible to be lifted up himself. We know about him chiefly through an interview in Bill Smith’s book The Vaudevillians. Apparently this unique skill was quite genuine, developed during idle moments as an ambulance driver during World War I. In his act, he would call to the stage three or four brawny volunteers, who would try and then fail to hoist the uncooperative Mr. Corelli off the ground. Corelli’s ability to withstand the exertions of four Ringling Bros. razorbacks got him a job in the circus. From there he worked a lot of private parties and toured vaudeville, strictly small time it seems, such as the Delmar Circuit in Texas, and Mike Shea’s upstate New York chain. He also toured Europe extensively before retiring as a performer in the 1940s.
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.