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Con Colleano

 

Con Colleano

December 26 1899 – Nov. 13 1973

Circus Trivia, Did You Know?   Did You Know, that in 1997 the Australia government issued a postage stamp honouring Con Colleano.

 

Con Colleano
 
 
 
 
Con Colleano
 
 

Con Colleano was considered to be the greatest "tight wire" artist who ever lived. Colleano was the first person to prefect the forward somersault on the tight wire.

Con Colleano was born Cornelius Sullivan in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia on Dec. 26 1899. Colleano was the third of ten children born to Con Sullivan and Vittorine Julie Robinson. Con's father Cornelius Sr. was professional boxer, circus performer and owner of the "Colleano's All-Star Circus", which toured Australia in the early 1900s. Sullivan (of Irish ancestry), changed his name to Colleano to give the family name a more European sound. Vittorine was from St. Thomas in the West Indies, her father was Australian Aboriginal. This mix of Irish-West Indian-Aboriginal gave Con Colleano the dark skin good looks that along with his talent certainly boosted his career.

Colleano perfected his talents as a wire walker while performing with his father's circus, it was during this period that Con met his future wife Winnie Trevail, a trapeze performer. In 1919 Colleano worked on and developed his trademark forward somersault.

Con began performing his act as a Spanish Toreador (bullfighter), this also would become a trademark of Colleano. The Toreador wardrobe has been often imitated by tight wire performers since Colleano, but his skills has never been duplicated.

After leaving Australia, Con first took his act to South Africa and then to the United States. In Sept. 1924 while performing at the Hippodrome Theatre, in New York City Colleano was noticed by an agent of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus who offered him a very lucrative contract. Colleano began performing on the RBBB circus the following season of 1925. At the hight of his career, Colleano was reportedly paid $ 1000.00 a week, he was the highest paid circus performer of the time. The Ringling Circus featured Colleano on it's circus posters, billing him as the "Wizard of the Wire".

During the winter months Con and Winnie toured and performed in Europe where he was very well received. Ironically one of Colleano's biggest fans was Adolf Hitler, who gave him a lifetime "Travel Permit" to enter and travel in Germany.

The Colleano's purchased a farm in Allentown PA. which was their winter quarters and retreat and in 1950 Both Con and his wife Winnie became United States citizens.

In 1956 Con and Winnie returned to Australia. They purchased the Albion Hotel at Forbes, New South Wales. The investment proved to be a mistake and the couple returned to the U.S. where con continued performing on the tight wire with several circuses.

The Great Con Colleano, now in his 60s gave his last performance in in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1960.

Con and Winnie retired to Miami, Fl. where Con died at his home of a heart attack 1n 1973 age 73. After Con's death Winnie returned to Australia.

Sarasota's Circus Ring of Fame   On Jan. 27, 1996 Con Colleano was inducted into the Sarasota's Circus Ring of Fame.

In 1966 Con Colleano was inducted into the International Circus Hall of Fame and Winnie in 1975.

 
Con Colleano
 
 
 
 
Con Colleano
 
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