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Lillian Leitzel
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Circus Performer
    (January 2, 1892-February 15, 1931)
    Born in Breslau, Germany
    Birth name was Leopoldina Alitza Pelikan
    Aerialist and acrobat with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus
    Famed for her one-arm planges
    Died two days after a fall in Copenhagen, Denmark at age 39
    She was 4 feet, 9 inches and weighed 95 pounds.
    She was a prima donna (aka - super diva).
    She was hot-tempered and known to curse and slap roustabouts who didn't adjust her rigging to her exact specifications.
    She was the first to command and receive her own Pullman train car for travel between shows.
    She kept her second husband, circus trapeze artist Alfredo Codona, waiting at the altar for three hours.
    Throughout the marriage they were known for their angry shouting matches, break-ups and reconciliations.
    She was a concert level pianist and could speak five languages.
    She did her one-arm planges by briefly dislocating her shoulder with each revolution (her record was 249 in a row).
    Asked why she performed such a painful routine she coolly replied, 'I'd rather be a racehorse and last a minute than be a plow horse and last forever.'
    She put together birthday parties at her tent for fellow circus performers.
    While performing in Copenhagen a brass swivel on her rope crystallized and broke, sending her plunging 20 feet to a hard, concrete floor.
    Insisting she could go on she was sent to the hospital where she was found to have suffered a concussion and spinal injuries.
    Doctors discharged her, expecting her to recover, but within 48 hours her condition deteriorated and she died.
    In 1958, she was the very first inductee elected into the International Circus Hall of Fame, years before circus powerhouses such as P.T. Barnum and Emmett Kelly.

Credit: Scar Tactics


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