Lillian Leitzel: Queen of the Air

Born this day in 1892, Lillian Leitzel (Leopoldina Alitza Pelikan) was a second generation circus performer, born and raised in Germany.

In 1910, she came to the U.S. with an aerial troupe called the Leamy Ladies. She stayed and went solo, becoming a major star of vaudeville and the Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus, billed as the Queen of the Air. She died in the line of duty in 1931, when she fell from her trapeze without a net.

To find out more about  the history of vaudeville, including star acrobats like ill-fated Lillian Leitzel, Queen of the Air, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous

One comment

  1. Please excuse a “nerd moment” here, Trav…but Lillian Leitzel fell from her rings, not a trapeze… The finish of her single-trap act was to perform a series of “planges” (one armed 360-degree vertical spins) on one of two parallel rings suspended high above the circus floor. It was the sudden break of one of the brass pieces that connected the ring to its rope that sent “The Queen of the Air” to her death (she lasted a couple of days first)….
    The monument that marks her grave (erected by her husband, co-internee (?) and fellow celebrated aerialist, Alfredo Codona–they were dubbed the “King and Queen of the Air”) features a broken ring carved into the pedestal of a wonderfully romantic statue. I came across it years ago on a quest for the grave of cowboy star Hoot Gibson (a long story, don’t ask)….

    Liked by 1 person

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