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Karl Wallenda
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Circus Performer
    (January 21, 1905-March 22, 1978)
    Born in Magdeburg, Germany
    Patriarch of the Flying Wallendas tightrope walking family
    Debuted with Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden in 1928
    Perfected the 7 person, 3-tiered human pyramid
    Technical advisor for the 1978 TV movie 'The Flying Wallendas,' starring Lloyd Bridges as Karl
    Died from a 121 foot high wire fall in San Juan, Puerto Rico at age 73
    He debuted without a net because it had been misplaced during shipping and went netless for the rest of his career.
    When the 7 person pyramid collapsed during a 1962 Detroit performance, killing two and paralyzing his son Mario, he insisted on performing the next night.
    He stated, 'I feel like a dead man on the ground. I can handle the grief better from up there. The wire is my life. We owe it to those who died to keep going.'
    His death, some say due to high winds but the family blames faulty ropes, was filmed and has been seen on videos and Internet downloads.
    His grand and great grandchildren have continued under three different camps - the Flying Wallendas, the Fabulous Wallendas and the Great Wallendas.
    The Madison Square Garden debut earned him and the family an unprecedented 15 minute standing ovation.
    The Wallendas were circus headliners for much of the 1930s and '40s before amicably leaving to start their own troupe.
    They survived the Great Hartford Circus Fire of 1944 that killed 168 people.
    Drawing crowds for skywalks between buildings and over stadiums, his crowning solo achievement was a quarter mile walk over the Tallulah River Gorge in Georgia at age 65, including two head stands before 30,000 people (July 1970).
    He died just one month after his TV movie aired.
    His motto was 'Life is being on the wire, everything else is just waiting.'

Credit: Scar Tactics

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