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Beatrice Sweeney

Although much more than simply a human gyroscope, the lovely iron-jaw aerialist seen here in a pink toga worthy of the island of Themyscira would reach her performance zenith during the 1923 season and fade from all records by the following year. In a career that spanned from 1918 to 1924, Beatrice Sweeney performed with Sells-Floto as well as Ringling Bros. And Barnum & Bailey, executing trapeze, aerialist and swinging ladder acts with such groups as Sweeney and Newton, the Sweeneys and the Sweeney Sisters. But it was only in 1923 that she was known as the human gyroscope. The program for the circus New York appearance described her as follows: Miss Beatrice Sweeney in a display difficult to label or describe but astonishing to a high degree. Traveling at the rate of countless revolutions per minute!

Though the program scribes may have found her routine difficult to put into words, the writers at Billboard magazine of March 31, 1923, quite admirably translated her act to paper: "A small box was hoisted to the rafters and upon a volley of shots issuing from its interior, Miss Sweeney was glimpsed thru the smoke hanging to a rope by her teeth and whirling around at a dizzy pace. She was then lowered to the ground and after tying herself into a pretzel knot was again raised. This time she made an unconscionable number of revolutions while twisted up and earned a hearty hand from the spectators by doing so".

This particular image is called Ringling Bros-Miss Beatrice Sweeney. It was a commission piece for the Ringling Bros,/Barnum&Bailey Circus that circulated it around 1923.

Thanks to George Beckett

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