A cache of materials once belonging to the Bloomington-based world-famous flying trapeze troupe, the Flying Concellos, has landed in the Circus and Allied Arts Collection of Milner Library’s Special Collections.
The sizable collection contains contracts, account books, correspondence, photos, telegrams, and business records. The collection illustrates the rise of husband and wife, Art and Antoinette Concello, after leaving the Flying Wards to form their own act, the Flying Concellos.
Both were known for their prowess in performing “the killer trick,” the triple somersault, once the gold standard of trapeze feats. Because of their expertise and a lucky break, the Concellos became a center ring attraction after an injury sidelined the great Alfredo Codona of the Flying Codonas.
The collection tracks Concello’s career from 1931 through 1945, from a flying act in Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, to general manager of the Big Show in 1942, to his acquisition of the Russell Bros. Circus in 1943, which ended in teaming up with legendary big cat trainer Clyde Beatty for the 1944 season.
“Bloomington-Normal’s role in the growth and perpetuation of the art of trapeze from the 1870s through the 1950s is well-established,” said Maureen Brunsdale, head librarian of Special Collections. “The Concellos are key to not just that history, but the history of the American circus.”