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Circus Trapeze Star Elvin Bale

Elvin Bale

Elvin Bale was born 1945 in London, England, to famous circus animal trainer Trevor Bale and his wife Irene. The Bale Family had been performing in European circus for generations. When Elvin was 5 years old the family moved to the United States at the request of John Ringling North and Trevor began performing his tiger act with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. As a youth Elvin worked as a "cage boy", cleaning the tiger cages for his father's animal act and also in the family's bicycle act.

At age 16, on his own, Elvin began working on his single trapeze act and he would become the greatest trapeze performer of his time. In 1961 Bale debuted his trapeze act at Majestic Theater in Fort Worth, TX. Elvin thrilled audiences and fellow performers alike with his signature "heel Catch", in which he would swing to the top of the tent, lunge forward and catch the trapeze bar with his heels. After his debut in Texas, Elvin began working shrine circuses for several years.

In1968 Elvin worked for Art Concello on his American Circus in Russia, After returning from Russia, Irvin Feld hired Bale to perform on the "Blue Unit" of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1969.

After several seasons as Ringling's headline attraction on the trapeze, Elvin began developing new acts for the show. First his "Astro Cycle", where he rode a motorcycle across a high wire. Two years later he introduced the "Wheel of Death", in 1978 the cannon act which he named "The Human Space Shuttle" then in 1980 the "mechanical monster".

in 1980 Bale was with Ringling’s Monte Carlo Circus which toured Australia and Japan.

In 1983 Elvin left the Ringling and performed with Circus Americano in Italy, then Sarrasani Circus in Germany.

In December of 1986 Bale was contracted to perform in Hong Kong with the Chipperfield Circus, who were there on an extended engagement. On January 8, 1987 Elvin climbed into the cannon as he had done many times before. The cannon shot went off as usual, but halfway through the air Elvin knew something was wrong.

Bale (and most cannon acts), used a sand filled dummy, the exact weight as the performer to do a test shot. before a performance the test dummy would be fired from the cannon and the net erected where the dummy had landed. Unbeknownst to Bale the dummy had been left in the rain the night before and had gained many pounds. Elvin saw that he was going to overshoot but there was nothing he could do. He landed across the circus' ringcurb, breaking both legs, his ankles and his spine in two places. Bale was left without the use of both legs.

Elvin spent six months in a Hong Kong hospital and another six months of rehabilitating at Mandeville Hospital in England.

After recovery Bale returned to the circus but never again as a performer. Elvin started a theatrical booking agency, Elvin Bale Productions and has worked as manager with the Cole Bros Circus and serves today as the show's Vice President-Operations.


Sarasota's Circus Ring of Fame   On January 18, 2003 The Bale Family were inducted into the Sarasota's Circus Ring of Fame.

2001, Elvin Bale was inducted into the International Circus Hall of Fame.

Elvin Bale Poster
Elvin Bale
Elvin on the "Wheel of Death"
Elvin Bale 3
Elvin Cannon


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