Detroit, MI Accident In A Fall From Trapeze, Dec 1872


Serious Accident to a Gymnast in Detroit -- Narrow Escape from Death.

From the Detroit Post, Dec. 21.

About 10 o'clock last evening a trapeze performer named WILLIAM FOREPAUGH, while going through a series of break-neck performances at the Theatre Comique, met with quite a serious, but, very fortunately, not fatal accident. In company with his wife, whose stage name is "MISS ALICE NAPIER," he had performed a hazardous double act upon a trapeze suspended over the stage. Upon its completion the lady retired behind the scenes, and FOREPAUGH mounted a single bar suspended from the dome of the theatre, about on a level with the first gallery, where he went through a variety of very dangerous feats, such as standing upon the bar while it is rapidly swinging to and fro without touching his hands to the side ropes; standing upon a ladder and sitting in a chair balanced on the slender bar, and a variety of similar highly exhilarating and cheerful performances.
All these being accomplished in safety the performer essayed the most foolhardy and dangerous feat of the evening -- that of turning a somersault from the bar while it was in full swing, and catching a rope suspended from the ceiling of the proseenium. Everything being in readiness, FOREPAUGH grasped the bar with both hands, and after swinging the length of the theatre half a dozen times, let go his hold, at the same instant turning a somersault; but through some mistake in his calculations he failed to catch the rope as intended and fell heavily to the stage, a distance of six or seven feet. He fell squarely on his back, his head also striking the boards with great violence, and was rendered senseless by the fall.
Upon seeing that he did not move the audience rose to their feet with almost one accord, and then followed a scene of the wildest excitement, amid which two of the stage hands dragged the insensible gymnast behind the scenes and the curtain was rung down. It was at first supposed that the young man's neck had been broken by the fall; but he soon revived, and upon the arrival of a physician it was ascertained that no bones had been broken. The shock, however, was very severe, and the injured man was delerious for a long time after. Unless he sustained injuries of an internal nature he will be all right again in a day or two. FOREPAUGH'S wife was in her dressing room at the time of the accident, and upon learning that her husband was hurt, she hastened to his side uttering piercing shrieks, which could be distinctly heard by the persons in front of the curtain. Her manifestations of grief were heartrending, and it was a long time before she could be quieted.

The New York Times New York 1872-12-23