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Barbette
(December, 1899 - August, 1972) U.S.A.

Barbette

Female impersonator, acrobat, and tightrope dancer

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His high-wire and trapeze act at the Casino de Paris was a smash success, and Barbette became the toast of Paris in the late 1920's; his theatrical career gave Blake Edwards part of his inspiration to write the musical comedy Victor/Victoria.

BarbetteBarbette was born Van der Clyde Broodway in Round Rock, Texas. He began his career as a wire-walker with the Ringling Brothers’ circus. He formed a partnership with a woman trapeze artist and assumed the role of her twin sister after the sister died. Later on he performed as a solo trapeze artist and wire walker and continued to dress as a woman.

Barbette went on to perform in Europe in the mid-1920's and achieved substantial, if brief, acclaim in Paris. He appeared in the Cocteau-Luis Bunuel film "Le Sang dun Poete" (1930). He was celebrated in a famous essay by his friend Jean Cocteau, and in this same era, posed for a series of photographs by Man Ray, the famous American photographer, and one is now at the Getty Museum in Southern California.

He returned to the United States in the 1930's, when he fell while walking the high wire, suffering injuries that forced him to retire from performing in 1938 and he became a circus producer. Barbette was a fantastic acrobat and one of the most famous early pioneers in female impersonation.

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