Eli Bowen - an amazing acrobat (7 photos)

Category: Nostalgia, PEGI 0+
16 May 2024

This type of circus art requires strength, dexterity and constant training to control every movement, every muscle and literally every cell of your body.

It also happens that acrobatics is the last thing a person can do due to physiological characteristics. But that didn't stop Eli Bowen.

Bowen was born in Ohio on October 14, 1844, one of ten children. The boy's brothers and sisters were born ordinary, with average performance. And Eli had disproportionately large feet growing straight from her pelvis. The baby had no legs. The child was born with phocomelia syndrome.

Despite his physical features, or perhaps because of them, the boy strived to live an unusual life. He not only wanted to overcome the limitations of his body, but also to become the best in a profession that requires an ideal physique.

The boy decided to become an acrobat. Eli learned early on to use his arms correctly to compensate for his lack of lower limbs. He held wooden blocks in his palms and used them as a kind of crutches to move around, lifting his body.

As a result of this process, as well as strenuous physical labor on the farm, Bowen developed tremendous strength and, even in adulthood, could carry his 65 kilograms anywhere. He began his professional career at the age of 13, then toured independently for some time and finally went on tour in Europe with the Barnum and Bailey Circus. He gained a reputation as a virtuoso acrobat.

Eli Bowen, known as the "Legsless Acrobat" and the "Legsless Wonder," was known for his extraordinary tumbling abilities, but gained international recognition for his unusual act known as the "pole act."

Although the man was only 60 centimeters tall, he calmly climbed a four-meter pole to balance on one hand at the very top. Taking hold of the pole, the artist straightened his torso parallel to the ground and moved in a circle. Eli then held himself parallel to the pole using only his right arm. This exercise not only demonstrated Bowen's strength, but was also unusually graceful. Bowen's fees for unique performances exceeded $100 per week.

With colleague Charles Tripp

As an adult, Eli Bowen also became known for his good looks, and at one point he was considered by many to be the most handsome man in show business.

Eli Bowen's good looks attracted many female fans to his performances. At the age of 26, he married a young girl, Mattie, and they eventually had four healthy sons. He was very proud of his family, and most of the photographs with Eli were of his family.

Bowen continued to perform until he was 80 years old for the simple reason that he simply loved his work.

With a family

His sons grew up to be successful people. One became a merchant, the other a lawyer, and Eli himself owned real estate - two farms in Michigan. Accordingly, the financial issue has never been a problem for him. He simply loved life in the public eye and could not resist performing.

On May 2, 1924, Eli Bowen died of pleurisy a few days before a scheduled performance at the Dreamland Circus in Coney Island. Throughout his long career, he was loved by audiences and respected by his fellow artists for his tenacity, resilience, talent and incredible zest for life.

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