Showing posts with label Torino 1928. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Torino 1928. Show all posts

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Torino in Australia 1928- Cinquevalli's only pupil

 Juggler William Campbell, known as Torino, had toured Australia in 1914. He returned in 1928 to a completely different entertainment scene. Moving pictures were challenging the major vaudeville chains for entertainment supremacy and they were winning the fight. Torino recognised this and came to Australia under contract to Union Theatres, a cinema chain. It was a prudent financial decision for the juggler.

 The sea journey to Australia took 6 weeks, and during the voyage Torino attempted to teach some juggling tricks to his fellow passengers. One trick was to kick a match box from his feet and light a match as the box fell. It is unclear how many passengers learnt this trick which Torino called ‘simple.’

He finally arrived in Sydney in late July 1928 . He spent a week there and performed at the Lyceum Theatre supporting the movie, The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come. Sydney was home to over 90 cinemas at the time and movies had overtaken vaudeville as the entertainment choice of the masses. Torino’s act was squashed between showings of films and his talent, although recognised, was unable to compete with the novelty of the new medium.  It was not until he reached Queensland that he gained some notoriety.

In July, Torino told reporters that Cinquevalli was ‘his teacher’, but when he arrived in Queensland in August he had become ‘Cinquevalli’s only pupil’. The story was to expand with various embellishments as the tour progressed. It was enhanced with huge advertisements stating that he was ‘greater than Cinquevalli’.

Cinquevalli was a well loved and remembered performer in Australia. He toured the country four times in the early 20th Century and was highly regarded as an individual and juggler. Capitalising on his reputation was a logical marketing ploy for Torino and Union Theatres.

In Brisbane,Torino performed at the Wintergarden Theatre between showings of ‘Lures of Love’ which starred Lionel Barrymore. He performed a 20 minute set which included juggling tumblers of water , the matchbox trick, balancing billiard balls and cues and sending letters via a ‘flick of the wrist’. The Brisbane newspapers called it an ‘extremely clever’ turn.

It was in Queensland that Torino’s Cinquevalli story became more intricate. According to the papers, Torino, when a young man, had been a fan of all the famous jugglers and saw all their acts. One day he was attending a Cinquevalli show, and the great juggler asked for volunteers. Torino volunteered and Cinquevalli was so impressed with his talent that he decided to train him as a juggler. Thus Torino became Cinquevalli’s only pupil, and it was with this description that his tour of Australia continued.

In Toowoomba, in rural Queensland, Torino manipulated tennis racquets and whirled a dollar coin on a parasol. He was described as ‘lithe and athletic’ in stature and performed in settings of ‘exquisite beauty’. The way he sealed and posted a letter sent the audience into hysterical laughter.

He was very popular in northern parts of the state, and spent most of September in the area. After a brief return to Sydney, Torino travelled to Western Australia and arrived in the middle of October.

There was little fanfare for his arrival and he was mostly reduced to a footnote in Western Australian reviews. Perth and Fremantle newspapers focused on the moving pictures, Torino was an adjunct to that main event, although the turn was ‘very popular.’

He stayed in Western Australia until early November when he left the country, presumably for Germany.

In later years, Torino toured the world as a juggler with his wife Doris, who died in 1936. His performances dwindled during the 1930s with the decline in vaudeville around the world, but he returned to the stage in England during World War 2. Some of his last performances were at the Golders Green Hippodrome in London where he appeared with his second wife, Eileen Slater, who worked under the name Joyanita Cole.

  Two weeks after this show,  his brother George Latour appeared on the same stage. It’s possible that Torino was suffering some impact from the cancer that would eventually cause his death, and his brother was filling in for him.

Torino died in 1943 in London aged 64. He was survived by his wife Eileen and their daughter, Joy Campbell.