An incredible Risley acrobatic act captured on two films in 1902/03. I have the films and the troupe would hold its own against any in the world today – but I know little about them so far! Can you help?

On the reverse it says ‘Jsmeno Yiulians Blackpool Tower’

My interest in this troupe arose from finding two Pathe 9.5mm films I have put on YouTube:

The film labels and Edison and Pathe film catalogues, below, clearly use the word Julians and I followed this track to find out more about them for several years.

The Julians, Acrobats (1903)

These famous European acrobats are shown in their wonderful feats of balancing and high-class acrobatic work. This troupe commands the highest salary ever paid to a company of gymnasts, and the sensational work they perform gives proof that theirs is justly the most celebrated in the world. The photography is beautifully sharp and distinct, and the subject most entertaining.
Summary written by Edison Catalog

Doing research I came across the the Yullians troupe referred to in the index of Adrian’s En Piste, Les Acrobates, and the Yuliam’s troupe referred to in Strehly’s L’Acrobatie et les Acrobates (pub 1903) p143. However no more references to these troupes could be found.

It was only when I came across the postcard above that I discovered the actual name may be the Yiulian’s. Below are more postcards I have since seen.

However this later postcard was from the Yulian’s was sent in 1939 from Brno in Czechoslavia, now the Czech Republic. Might the troupe have originated here? Here’s the back of the postcard – maybe someone can make sense of it?

Searching newspaper archives led me to believe both names were used by the same troupe, the Yiulian’s name being at least from 1905.

A chance discovery of a December 1905 Folies Bergere programme introduced yet another name for the act – the Yuilians – and in turn led to an attractive article from Paris qui Chante, 27/11/1904 which sadly provides no biographical information.



23 February, 8 March 1896 Yiulians, Scala-Bouffes, Lyon collections.bm-lyon.fr/presseXIX/PER00318234?page=8 Les Gymnastes Gentlemen. In this paper they are called the Yulians collections.bm-lyon.fr/presseXIX/PER00312441?page=4
February 1902 Le Theatre Cirque des Nouveautes de Toulouse engage la troupe acrobatique Yulians.
8 November 1902 Tivoli Theatre of Varieties, Leeds, Yulians, Marvellous Acrobats
20 November 1902 Liverpool, the Yulians
4 November 1902 Tivoli Theatre of Varieties…
9 December 1902 Tivoli Theatre of Varieties…
15 January 1903 Empire, Bristol First Appearance in England of the Six Yulians, Marvellous Troupe of Acrobats
18 July 1903
17 September 1903 Yulian Trio
28 september 1903, Bristol
3 october 1903 Bootle
15 October 1903 Leeds, The Yulians give a smart performance
19 November 1903 Palace, Bradford
7 January 1904 Tivoli Dublin, Six Yulians, the most marvellous and sensational acrobats ever
14 January 1904 New Alhambra, Belfast, Six Yulians, a remarkable troupe of acrobats, head the bill
28 January 1904 Manchester, Six Yulians
30 January 1904, A remarkable turn is that of the Yulians, eight in number, whose acrobatic performance is highly sensational.
8, 16, 22 and 25 November 1904 Yulian Family, Empire, London
1, 22 December 1904 Yulian Family, Empire, London
29 December 1904 Brighton, Six Yulians in a Risley act
4 April 1905 Alhambra, North Street, Belfast review in Irish Independent “Everyone who saw their wonderful performance last night will certainly agree that the Yulians Family take a lot of beating. The performance of the three junior members of the troupe moreover was amazingly clever.”
13 April 1905 Alhambra, North Street, Belfast, Yulians Family
1905 Burnley Empire, Yiulians -see advertising below

9 February 1906 King Street, Wigan , “The Yulians, the most marvellous Risley acrobats in the universe”
24 February 1906 Stockton
2 March 1906 Burnley
10 march 1906
15 March Hippodrome, Norwich Eight Yiulians
28 March, 26 April, 3 May 1906 Alhambra, London, Yulians Family
6, 27 April 1906 Alhambra, London, Yiulians
2, 13 July, 9 Aug 1907, Alhambra, London
6 August 1907 Alhambra, London, Yiulians
September 1907 Porth Palace, Rhondda, Wales, Yiulians
5 January 1908 Auditorium Theatre, Chicago – “Farewell performance of Europe’s most wonderful Risley experts and tumblers who appear to disregard the safety of their anatomies in their startling tumbling feats.”
January 1908 New York (venue name), America – see Variety, p14, “Eight Yiulians, the corking acrobatic and ‘Risley’ collection who recently came over from the other side.”
April 1908, Keith’s, Boston, Yiulians “magnificent acrobatic act”
12 April 1908 Orpheum,New York, The European Stars, The Seven Yulians Acrobatic Marvels
11 August 1908 The Seven Yulians will start on their season’s route over here at Butte
7 November 1908 Orpheum, Salt Lake City, Utah – The Seven Yulians, famous acrobats
13 December 1908 seven Yulians

The Julians, Acrobats (1903)
These famous European acrobats are shown in their wonderful feats of balancing and high-class acrobatic work. This troupe commands the highest salary ever paid to a company of gymnasts, and the sensational work they perform gives proof that theirs is justly the most celebrated in the world. The photography is beautifully sharp and distinct, and the subject most entertaining.
Summary written by Edison Catalog

See the video at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIIRMgsSsNs


This wonderful acrobatic act can be seen on film from 1902/03. The following two listings appear in the Pathe film volumes index:

Julian’s Acrobates, Les, 1902/03 (p876) [May 1903 catalogue]

3597 Julian’s, Les (150m) 1910 (p298)
Une troupe de dix acrobats tres adroits effectue une serie de performances remarques; echelle humaine, double sauts perilleux, sauts geants etc.
Cine-Journal no 96 25/06/1910
The Bioscope 26/05/1910
Sortie: Le Cirque d’Hiver 1-7/07/1910

The same two films are featured in the domestic Pathe Baby (9.5mm)1923 catalogue:
Film 229 Voltige au Tapis par Les Julian’s
Film 230 Julian’s Troupe

Looking at the films it is apparent both were filmed at the same location and the same time.

All, bar a couple of Risley moves, of Film 229 is featured in Paris 1900 (France 1948 Dir Nicole Vedres) and in Le Petomane: Fin-De-Siècle Fartiste (USA 1998 dir Igor Vamos).

Details of Rose Julian can be found at www.circushistory.org/History/Contortion.htm
It includes the following paragraph:
Note: This is Rose (or Rosalie) Julian, said to have been born in Australia in 1867. Her brother was Martin Julian. The Julians traveled the Variety Hall circut as well as performing with circuses. They did perform with Barnum, Cole, Cooper & Hutchinson’s Greatest Show on Earth in 1886. Later, Martin became the manager of the well-known pugalist, Robert Fitzsimmons. After Fitzsimmons divorced his first wife, he married Rose Julian. Fitzsimmons’ first wife married Rose’s brother, Martin. At least one newspaper account states that Rose and Martin’s mother (probably Aimee/Amy) was married to Leon Samwells, possibly the Leon Samwells who was a gymnast, acrobat and had trained animals. – Judy Griffin

Olympians of the Sawdust Circle – A Biographical Dictionary of the Nineteenth Century American Circus by by William L. Slout cites: JULIANS. Gymnasts, P. T. Barnum’s, 1886.

There was a Julian’s Circus in England in the early 1890s so there may be a connection there (poster in Evanion Collection for Julian’s Grand International Circus 1893, East Grinstead, Sussex.)

The Julians were featured on the bill for Tony Pastor’s 14th Street Theatre (which ran from 1881-1908), New York w/c March 17th but I don’t know which year – either 1884 or 1902!.

1894 June 19 New York Times list the Julians, acrobats: Theo, Meehan and Raymond as appearing at Tony Pastor’s Theatre.

McCaddon Collection of the Barnum and Bailey Circus (TC040) 1871-1907, bulk 1895-1905
has images described as follows: 67-69 Rose Julian, acrobat or aerialist?

There was a circus troupe who toured regional South Australia in the early 1900s called The Flying Julians. Is this coincidence or is it a different set of ‘flying Jullians’.

1913 October 19 – New York Times lists the Six Julians, acrobats, appearing at Proctor’s Twenty-third Street theatre.

1914 Dec 14-19 Pavilion Theatre, Ayr – variety show – The Four Julians special.lib.gla.ac.uk/sta/search/detaile.cfm?EID=19371

1923 Jan 15 London Colisem for w/c January 15 1923 – A variety show with many acts including Holloway & Austin, The Four Famous Julians, The Arnaut Brothers and many more

There are references to the Flying Julians in Adrian’s Ils donnent des Ailes du Cirque p107 with a trampoline/catching act, circa 1925 (and who performed at the London Coliseum in 1924 as the Julians and the London Alhambra in 1925 as the Flying Julians).

1924 Nov. 10th, Programme for THE A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TEMPUS FUGIT: MARCH at The London Coliseum from Monday,
Creator(s):Fleming, Brandon [author]; Merivale, Bernard [author]; Denissoff, I. K. [singer] [performer]; Kedroff, N. N. [singer] [performer]; Kasakoff, T. F. [singer] [performer]; Kedroff, K. N. [singer] [performer]; Fyffe, Will [comedian] [performer]; Julians [performer]; Taube, A. [composer]; Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus 1756-1791 z [composer]; Korsakov, R. [composer]; Wagner, Richard 1813-1883 z [composer]; Novelli [singer] [performer]; Saint-Saens, Camille 1835-1921 z [composer]; Godard [composer]; Ketlbey, Albert W. Albert William 1875-1959 z [composer]; Pazius [composer]; Abt, Franz 1819-1885 z [composer]; Page, Norman [producer or director]; Haycock, Cadle & Graham Ltd. [London] Camberwell [printer]; Stoll, Oswald [theatre managing director]; Croxton, Arthur [theatre manager]; Crocker, Henry [stage manager]; Egbert Brothers [performer]; Dove, Alfred [musical director]; Fuller, Loie [ballet mistress]; Edwards, Tom [ventriloquist] [performer]; Loie Fuller’s Ballet [ballet company] [performer]; Quartermaine, Leon [performer]; Harker, Gordon [performer]; Compton, Fay [performer]; Kedroff Vocal Quartette [choir] [performer];
Local identifier:John Johnson Collection – Bodleian Library, University of Oxford – 20010607/16:10 :24 f Type of item:programme Note:With a synopsis of “Cockney Suite” describing London scenes and recreations. Format:paper; booklet 8 p. + cover 21.8 x 14 cm.;

1925 March 16, Programme for CANZONE MILITARE: MARCH at Alhambra from Week commencing Monday, | Item level record
Creator(s):Alhambra Company, Ltd. [owner of premises]; Flying Julians [gymnast] [performer]; Page, Edith Miss [pianist] [performer]; Tate, Harry [performer]; Mezzacapo [composer]; German, Edward Sir 1862-1936 z [composer]; Henry Good and Sons London Sydney Avenue, E.C. [printer]; Stoll, Oswald Sir [theatre managing director]; Reynolds, George F. [theatre manager]; Saker, George [musical director]; Brooks, Fred C. [theatre manager, assistant]; Crocker, A. [stage manager]; Formby Jr, George [performer]; Stoll Picture Productions, Ltd.; Frank [dancer] [performer]; Vesta [dancer] [performer]; Thurston, Harry [mimic] [performer]; Hylton, Jack [band leader] [performer]; Jack Hylton Band [band] [performer]; Whelan, Albert [performer]; Hook, Ethel [singer] [performer];
Local identifier:John Johnson Collection – Bodleian Library, University of Oxford – 20010518/12:20 :28 f Type of item:programme Format:paper; booklet 8 p. + cover 25.8 x 18.7 cm.;

week commencing Monday August 13th 1934
1 …. THE HUNTINGS …Amusing Performers in a Series of Ladder Antics
2 …. PLANT & ROSSLYN …. The Famous Comedy Pair in a Typical Topical Interlude
3 …. JOAN GATES …. The Dainty soubrette in her Latest Successes
4 …. O’BRIEN & HARRIS …. The “Iro-Lanks” Comedy Pair presenting an AMUSING DIVERSION
5 …. THE FAMOUS FLYING JULIANS ….Springing Surprises as only these Brilliant Artistes can
6 … HORACE GOLDIN ….. The Royal Illusionist
Presents a GOLDIN HOUR

1935 May 18th – Four Julians at the Theatre Royal in Chatham including Billy Julian

In ‘Memories of Circus, Variety, etc. as I knew it’ by Henry Whiteley (pub’d 1981 tho’ written 1944), Whiteley states that ‘Bob Hanlon was the father of the trampoline act known in later years as the Four Julians’ (p22).

More recently there has been Victor Julian (?Victor Julian Yelding?) with his dog act. He appeared in the 1962 film Billy Rose’s Jumbo and on the Ed Sullivan show ‘Toast of the Town’ on several occasions in the 1960s.

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