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Old 01-03-2005, 06:45 PM
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That song about the daring young man on the flying trapeze

I don't know if kids still go through a period of being attracted to the circus, but when I was a kid, most of us still did at some point. As a result, we all knew at least the chorus of that song about the man on the trapeze. Or at least the line that goes:

He flew through the air with the greatest of ease,

And this song would propagate through generations of children as older ones sang it to younger ones.

But does anyone know where this song came from? It's sung in the 1934 movie It Happened One Night, but it seems older than that.
Old 01-03-2005, 06:55 PM
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The man who inspired the song was Jules Leotard (1838-1870) and the song was written by George Leybourne in 1868. Leotard is also credited with the suit of the same name. Surprisingly, considering his relative youth at the time of his death, he did not die from a fall but from smallpox.
Old 01-03-2005, 06:57 PM
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I know the rest of the chorus (or maybe it's a verse):

He flies through the air with the greatest of ease,
This daring young man on the flying trapeze.
His movements are graceful, all girls he does please,
And my love he has taken awa-aaay.

It's one of the universal Life Experiences, this losing one's girlfriend to a dashing young trapeze artist.
Old 01-04-2005, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by jackelope
I know the rest of the chorus (or maybe it's a verse):

He flies through the air with the greatest of ease,
This daring young man on the flying trapeze.

After a lifetime of only knowing these two lines, it was fun to hear the entire song in It Happened One Night, as well as the band arrangement--singer, guitarist, and fiddler.
Old 01-04-2005, 10:59 AM
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It's also used in a Popeye short (Fleischer bros. era).
Old 01-04-2005, 11:13 AM
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It's also played by the ship's band in The Bridges at Toko-Ri, when Mickey Rooney is being transported to another ship via breeches buoy.

James Thurber's The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze is hilarious.

The full lyrics
This young man by name was Signor Bona Slang,
Tall, big and handsome, as well made as Chang.
Where'er he appeared the hall loudly rang
With ovation from all people there.
Um, yeah, okay.

Spike Jones' version is the best.
Old 01-04-2005, 12:46 PM
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The tune, played on calliope and minus words) showed up a couple of times of the 1960's show The Wild Wild West, as incidental music. Jim West was looking for someone in what I believe was a seemingly deserted carnival.
Old 01-04-2005, 02:35 PM
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Doodles Weaver's version (as part of Spike Jones and his City Slickers) is pretty funny.
Old 01-04-2005, 03:20 PM
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Tall, big and handsome, as well made as Chang.
A joke no one gets anymore. From a circus-poster site: "In 1881, when James Bailey and P.T. Barnum entered into their new partnership, they traveled under the title Barnum and Great London Circus. It was at this time that Chang-Tu-Sing, the Chinese Goliath, was an attraction in their combined shows. According to the text which accompanies the Asian titan on the poster, Chang was the most gigantic and finely proportioned man in existence."
Old 01-04-2005, 04:00 PM
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I don't know what y'all be talkin' 'bout.

It's DJ Kool.

Originally Posted by DJ Kool
Now I'ma rap a rhyme with the greatest of ease
And swing it like the man on the flying trapeze
And if you don't like it you grab on these
And now I need some help from the maestro please

Jam, Ha! So look it here check the flavor of the rhythm I wrote
And while I got a chance here, let me clear my throat.

Don't you people know ANYTHING?
Old 01-04-2005, 04:25 PM
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John Major, a former UK Prime Minister, was considered rather boring.
Apparently he ran away from the circus to become an accountant.
Old 01-04-2005, 05:16 PM
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Royal Crown Review had that line in their song, [i]Rise and Fall of the Great Mondello[i]:

This cat was flying through with
The greatest of ease
All of a sudden he missed the trapeze
Down and down, down and down
Kersplatty on the ground

Come and see where Mondello did land
The poor fellow is in the Lord’s hands
Oh me oh my what a shame
Nothing left, just a stain
Old 01-08-2005, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus
It's sung in the 1934 movie It Happened One Night, but it seems older than that.
Interestingly, the same year as the "Our Gang" short Mike Fright.

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