Jules Léotard performs the first high-flying trapeze act at the Cirque Napoléon in Paris
Twenty-one year old Jules Léotard caused a sensation at the Cirque Napoleon in Paris when he first performed his twelve minute high-flying trapeze act. He had perfected the routine at his father's gymnasium in Toulouse, rigging trapezes from the ceiling and swinging over the swimming pool to avoid back-breaking falls. Leotard toured London and New York, had a popular song written about him, and gave his name to the one piece costume that he wore. After revolutionizing the circus, he died of smallpox in 1870. (By John Osborne)
Garrett Soden, Defying Gravity: Land Divers, Roller Coasters, Gravity Bums, and the Human Obsession with Falling (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005), 59-60.