Pete Cristiani, acrobat – obituary


Paraito “Pete” Cristiani, the acrobat, who has died aged 90, was a member of one among Italy’s elite circus dynasties and the chairman of the board of Cristiani Brothers’ Circus.

Pete traced his performing lineage again to the mid-Nineteenth century and Emilio Cristiani, an novice gymnast from Pisa who was the blacksmith by appointment to King Victor Emmanuel II. His son – Pete’s grandfather – Pilade, a proficient acrobat, trapeze artist and strongman, fell in love with a circus equestrienne and was endowed by King Umberto with the cash to start out the Circo Cristiani.

Pete’s father and mom, Ernesto and Emmaline, toured the Continent with their circus and had 16 kids, 10 of whom went on to grow to be greats of the large high. Oscar, Daviso, Lucio, Belmonte, Mogador and Paraito (often known as Pete after the household moved to the US) had been joined by sisters Cossetta, Chieta, Hortense and Corcaita in what developed right into a bareback driving act that was thought-about the best of its time within the Europe .

Paraito Cristiani was born in Italy on June 24 1925. In 1931 his household fled the Mussolini regime, transferring to Paris, the place they appeared on the Cirque Medrano in Montmartre. Younger Pete started studying acrobatics and driving from early childhood, making his debut within the sawdust ring on the Cirque Medrano within the Spanish star Charlie Rivels’s clown act. As a baby he travelled along with his household to massive tops in Germany, Belgium and Britain, the place they made their debut on the Hippodrome Circus at Nice Yarmouth in the summertime of 1933, adopted by a winter look on the Royal Agricultural Corridor, Islington.

Bertram Mills introduced them again to London within the winter of 1938/39 they usually had been rebooked for the 1938/40 Mills’ season at Olympia, however the contract needed to be cancelled when battle intervened.

In the meantime a expertise scout for “The Biggest Present on Earth” had noticed them, and within the early Thirties they moved to America, the place they opened at Madison Sq. Backyard with the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus. They then spent 4 years with the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus and the Al G Barnes Circus, and it was presently that Pete made his first look within the household driving act and likewise in a brand new springboard acrobatic act.

Through the Second World Conflict the household returned to the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus, however Pete, who had taken US citizenship, had been drafted into the Military, engaged on the manufacturing of coaching movies. He rejoined the household after demobilisation and in 1949 the household, now numbering 26, shaped the Cristiani Bros Circus. 5 years later they turned the primary circus to journey to Alaska.

In 1950 Pete Cristiani had married Norma Davenport, daughter of the circus impresario Ben Davenport, and as a marriage present Davenport gave them 5 elephants which they skilled and introduced at varied reveals. In 1956 Pete turned chairman of the board of the Cristiani Bros Circus, which flourished for some years, turning into the most important touring operation on the time.

Within the early Nineteen Sixties, nevertheless, circus economics modified, forcing the present to shut. Many of the Cristiani clan moved to South America with a Ringling present, however Pete remained within the US and launched his personal present, Wallace Bros Circus, utilizing a title owned by his father-in-law. Falling enterprise, nevertheless, led to the downsizing and eventual closure of the present and in 1966 he offered off his circus property.

Within the early Nineteen Seventies he turned leisure director for the Circus Circus Resort and On line casino in Las Vegas and likewise operated a meals truck at carnivals. A severe street accident in 1994, nevertheless, pressured him to retire from showbusiness.

Within the late Nineteen Seventies Pete and Norma Cristiani divorced, however they reunited and Norma died in 2010. Pete Cristiani is survived by their two sons and two daughters

Pete Cristiani, born June 24 1925, died June 4 2016


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