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

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Torino in Australia 1914......

 Background information for this article came from this excellent recount of Torino's career.

In July 1914 Melbourne Punch wrote that a London newspaper had ranked the top five jugglers in the world. Cinquevalli was number one, followed by Salerno, Kara, Torino and Hern. Shortly afterwards, number one, Cinquevalli, and number four, Torino, visited Australia.

It was Torino’s first visit to Australia. His real name was William Campbell and he was born in Scotland in 1879. His family moved to the United States when he was young, and it was there that he and his brother George began their juggling careers. In 1914 he told an Australian newspaper that as a child he often practised with his mother’s silverware, and that he spent some of his early career as a club juggler and Indian ball puncher.

After some years working in both the American and English vaudeville circuits as William Campbell, he made a dramatic announcement to the theatrical press in 1911. William Campbell had passed away and Torino was replacing him. Thus it was Mr Torino whose name appeared on the passenger list to Australia in 1914, finally arriving in Adelaide in September that year.

Australia was at war, and Cinquevalli, the world’s number one juggler, was performing around the country.

Torino 1928- from the newspapers

The timing was strange. Torino’s contract was with the Tivoli circuit, the same circuit that employed Cinquevalli. Unlike Cinquevalli, whose wage was 100 pounds a week, Torino earned 40. The two jugglers toured the same theatres in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, sometimes within days of each other. Cinquevalli got the headlines, the pictorials and the page long reviews, Torino, who was described as ‘Cinquevalli’s rival’ at least once, got passing mentions. ( a rough comparison of their travels)

Torino’s act was different from that of Cinquevalli. It was called ‘a Japanese Fete’ and had, as the name implied, a Japanese theme.

The curtains opened to the juggler lying in a hammock underneath an umbrella from which hung several lanterns.  He juggled tennis racquets with balls, threw a penholder so that it nestled behind his ear and concluded by making a coin ‘waltz’ around the top of the umbrella. According to an Adelaide reviewer ‘ He seems to have a knack of making everything look remarkably easy and graceful.’

Torino spent about two weeks in Adelaide and received good reviews. By September 28 he was performing in Melbourne. On September 30, Cinquevalli arrived in Adelaide.

In Melbourne Torino made water remain fast in an upturned glass and was praised for his ‘picturesque’ Japanese setting whilst his assistant was described as ‘humorous’.

Meanwhile in Adelaide, a local paper, The Critic, published a full page pictorial on Cinquevalli ‘at home’ and included an interview with the master juggler.

I was not until Torino reached Sydney, later in October, that the press noticed him, and it was in small paragraphs rather than in full length articles. Cinquevalli was performing in Melbourne at the time and promoting his final ever retirement performances.

In Sydney, Torino introduced the flying cue stick to his act. In this trick he triggered a small cannon by foot which propelled a cue stick high in the air. He then caught it on his forehead. The Sydney newspapers also reported Torino’s experiences in battle. Apparently he was on a cycling tour when the United States and Cuba went to war. He joined a regiment and was commended for his service. Unfortunately for the US military, the pull of vaudeville was too strong for the juggler to become a professional soldier.

There was one published comparison between Cinquevalli and Torino. It was an odd comment, Cinquevalli, according to the Brisbane Worker was ‘old school’ because he wore gymnast’s tights in his act, Torino, in contrast, belonged to ‘the ultra modern school’, presumably because he did not wear tights.

Torino finished his 1914 tour in Sydney around November 11. On November 16 Cinquevalli performed his final show. He kissed his cannonball goodbye and left Australia the next day.

Torino left Australia in early December from Sydney. So if the two jugglers met it was probably between Torino’s last show in Sydney on November 11 and Cinquevalli’s last show in Melbourne, on November 16. Did Torino attend this performance? What juggler would miss the opportunity to see Cinquevalli’s last show?  Particularly as both artists worked for the same employer, and the train journey between Sydney and Melbourne was not too arduous.

Torino returned to Australia in 1928 when he regularly mentioned his relationship with Cinquevalli who died in 1918.  The extent of that friendship and when and where they met, was never clarified.

 I'll be writing about Torino's 1928 tour in my next post.