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August 30, 2021

Pictures of the Kremos, a Swiss Family of Acrobats, From the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

This amazing vintage footage depicts the Kremos, a Swiss family of acrobats, doing their act in Paris in August 1896. The short film was taken by the Lumière brothers.

The Kremos, produced two generations of remarkable icarists, followed by two generations of remarkable jugglers, Béla Kremo, and his son, Kris. All of them have been important circus and variety stars in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, and Kris Kremo, who also became a celebrated international star in America as well as in Europe, continued the tradition well into the twenty-first century.

The original Kremo troupe was created around 1880 by Josef Kremo (1854-1917), whose real name was Kremka, and whose family was of Czech origins—at a time when Czechoslovakia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This first Kremo troupe was composed of Josef and his two eldest sons, Sylvester and Karl. Josef Kremo had been apprenticed to the Scheffers, an Austrian family of talented acrobats who performed the best and most celebrated Risley act of the late 19th century.

Josef had married an Austro-Hungarian equestrienne, Franzisca Allinger (1858-1940). Together they had had thirteen children, twelve of whom eventually participated in the family’s Risley act. At least three of their children, Anton, Franziska, and Viktor, could perform a triple somersault on the feet of their father, the most difficult trick of the specialty, then as now. Sylvester (1881-1962), Josef's eldest son, and Karl (1882-1958), his younger brother, eventually went on to create their own troupes, and continued the family tradition, each with his own troupe.

The Sylvester Kremo Family troupe consisted of Sylvester and his daughters, Sylvia and Selna. The Karl Kremo Family was a larger troupe, consisting of Karl, his brother Mark (1888-1945), his wife Margrit (1891-1923)—née Hanus in Hungary—and their children, Bellona, Béla, Bianca, and Bert, along with occasional partners. Both troupes brilliantly continued the Kremo tradition, performing in Europe’s leading circuses and variety theaters until the 1930s. The Karl Kremo Family was the most famous of the two, and of course, was survived by one of Karl’s sons, Béla Kremo, who maintained the name alive as a world-famous juggler.


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