Jean François (Charles) Gravelet-Blondin (aka “The Great Blondin” 1824–1897) was a French tightrope walker and acrobat. So popular were his exploits on tightrope that the art itself was known as “Blondin.” He was known to be very likeable, charismatic and popular for his entire life. He accomplished many daring tightrope walks. He performed at the Crystal Palace in London on a rope 70 feet above the ground stretched across the central transept turning somersaults and on stilts. In Dublin, Charles stretched a rope 100 feet above the ground at the Royal Portobello Gardens. He crossed the Edgbaston Reservoir in Birmingham England in 1873.
He came to the United States in 1855. While here, he performed mostly with the Ravel troupe in New York City and became part owner of a circus. On June 30, 1859 he became the first man to walk a rope across the Niagara Falls. He stretched a rope 1100 feet long, 160 feet above the water. He made many trips on this rope, first by himself, and later he took his manager on his back. He went across performing various stunts: blind folded, in a sack, trundling a wheelbarrow and on stilts. On one crossing, he stopped in the middle and, using a portable stove, cooked an omelet while standing on a chair with only one chair leg on the rope. Other reports indicate he lowered a cooked omelet down to the boat, Maid in the Mist, where someone ate it. Continue reading