This edited article about Blondin originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 683 published on 15 February 1975.
Thousands of people stared fascinated at a rope stretched across Niagara Falls on 30th June, 1859. The rope was over a thousand feet long and a hundred and sixty feet above the roaring tumult of the river.
Suddenly the crowd froze with excitement. A man had started to walk along the rope from the American side. Half-way across, he lay down; then he proceeded to do a backwards somersault. He reached the far side and, as the cheers rang out, a band struck up the Marseillaise.
The tightrope walker started back to the American side carrying a chair. When he reached the middle of the rope, he balanced the chair on two legs and sat down on it.
The performer’s name was Blondin, and he was the greatest of all rope-walkers.
Over the centuries, the world of the circus and of acrobats has cast such a spell over so many people that it is surprising how few of its great performers are remembered by name. But there is no danger of Blondin being forgotten because, indoors as well as out, he took spectacular risks which caught the imagination of literally millions of people who never actually saw him perform.
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