June 9, 2004 by

Francis Brunn

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Categories: Artists

For 50 years, Francis Brunn amazed audiences with his dazzling acrobatic and juggling feats.
The graceful gymnast and showman attended the Performing Arts School in Berlin. At 17, he and his sister Lotte began touring Europe as professional entertainers. In 1948, Brunn joined the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and became the first juggler to work the center ring as a solo headliner. There he combined the style of flamenco dancing with a wide variety of juggling accessories.
Over the next four decades, Brunn trained through accidents and injuries. He performed with smaller circuses and on television programs like “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Johnny Carson Show.” Able to juggle up to 10 rings at once, Brunn is considered by many experts to be one of the world’s best jugglers.
His most famous combination trick involved standing on one leg while simultaneously spinning two rings around the other; juggling three rings in his left hand; rotating two rings around his right arm while spinning a ball on the tip of his finger — all while balancing a ball on a mouth stick and a ball on a stick atop his forehead.
Brunn died on May 28 from complications of heart surgery. He was 81.
Watch Brunn Perform on “The Jack Benny Show”

One Response to Francis Brunn

  1. Tom Smitsloo

    I am very sad to learn of the news of Francis Brunn’s death. I lost track of him after I worked at circus Sarrasani as a young boy, in The Hague, the Netherlands, in the early seventies, taking photo’s and befriending this warm Fred Astaire like genius who was as warm off stage as on stage. His then wife was higly pregnant of their child (Raphael?). Last night I returned to the same spot in The Hague for a show by the Circus Krone. During a reception I spoke of my memories going back almost 35 years, especially of Francis Brunn. So this morning I decided to check on internet if I could find anything about him and then I learned he just passed away. Now I regret having lost track all those years, me bing 51 now and having spent my whole life since then in Dutch showbusiness, not as a performer but in commercial capacities. I started as a 13 year old boy in a theater, and after 38 years it is fair to state that I only met a handful of real great performers, Francis Brunn being one of them for sure!

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