H.B. Marinelli: The Boneless Wonder


H.B. Marinelli (1864-1924) was one of a multigenerational family of performing contortionists (He was born in Germany, although his stage name is Italian, as was commonly done back then). Marinelli took to the stage himself at age seven, billed as “The Boneless Wonder.” The contortionist move called the Marinelli Bend continues to bear his name. In 1898, after years of success in American vaudeville he opened his own theatrical booking agency, which soon became one of the most important international operations of his kind in the world. Among the major acts Marinelli handled were Sir Harry Lauder, Evelyn Nesbit Thaw, Gaby Deslys, and Rastelli the Juggler. He represented the performers during the 2nd White Rats strike and sued the managers under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act (he eventually lost).

To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc



  1. Hello- HB Marinelli was my husband’s great grandfather. He was in fact German-Marinelli was a stage name, and he and his wife Violetta ( a vaudeville singer) performed all over the world. We have a scrapbook and many photos chronicling their adventures. Thanks for giving him a mention. By the way, my husband is probably the least flexible person I’ve ever known……..


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