Leitzel, Lillian

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Leitzel, Lillian Gender: F
Leopoldine Alice Pelikan
born on 2 January 1891 at 10:30 (= 10:30 AM )
Place Breslau, Germany, 51n0654, 17e0212
Timezone LMT m17e0212 (is local mean time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Scholfield
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_capcol.18.gif 11°45' s_mo.18.gif s_libcol.18.gif 00°18 Asc.s_piscol.18.gif 05°22'

Lillian Leitzel (At left, 1926)


German acrobat and strongwoman for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. The inaugural (posthumous) inductee to the International Circus Hall of Fame in 1958, Leitzel died in hospital two days after a fall during a live performance.

Leitzel was born into a family of circus performers. Her father was a Hungarian army officer and theatre performer. Her mother was a Czech circus acrobat. She joined her mother's aerobatic circus group, the Leamy Ladies.

In 1910, she came to the United States with the circus troupe and performed with Barnum and Bailey. The group later dissolved and its members returned to Europe, but Leitzel continued to attempt to perform in the American vaudeville circuit. In South Bend, Indiana, she was seen by an agent of the Ringling Brothers who offered her a contract. When Ringling and Barnum and Bailey merged, she became a huge star and a headline performer for the circus.

Leitzel's act included one-armed planges, momentarily dislocating the shoulder during each plange. She would flip her body over her shoulder repeatedly, sometimes hundreds of times in a feat of endurance, encouraging the audience to count each one in unison. Only 4 ft 9 in (145 cm) in height, she was also famous for her demanding personality and temper. Leitzel was the first performer in history to command her own private Pullman car completely furnished with her own baby grand piano.

Her quick temper was legendary. It was not uncommon to witness Leitzel cursing or slapping a roustabout who did not adjust her rigging exactly to her liking. Further, Leitzel was known to fly off the handle and fire and rehire her personal maid, Mabel Cummings, several times a day. In sharp contrast, she was known to the children on the show as "Auntie Leitzel", and who would hold birthday parties for her fellow performers in her private dressing tent.

She married Clyde Ingalls in 1920 (the couple divorced in 1924), and later wed circus trapeze performer Alfredo Codona in 1928.

On the night of 13 February 1931 she fell to the ground from her rigging while performing in Copenhagen, Denmark, when the swivel that held the rope in place fractured and snapped. She died on the morning of 15 February, aged 40.

She is the subject of the 2013 book, The book Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus by Dean N. Jensen. A vintage circus poster depicting her was used as the subject of a United States postage stamp issued as part of a set on 5 May 2014.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • Relationship : Marriage 1920 (Clyde Ingalls)
  • Relationship : Divorce dates 1924 (Clyde Ingalls)
  • Relationship : Marriage 1928 (Alfredo Codona)
  • Health : Accident (Non-fatal) 13 February 1931 (Fall)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death by Accident 15 February 1931 (Injuries from fall, age 40)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Prize 1958 (International Circus Hall of Fame)

Source Notes

Sy Scholfield provided birth registry entry. Wikipedia has 1892 in error.


  • Traits : Body : Constitution hardy (Strongwoman)
  • Traits : Body : Size (Height: 1.45 m/ 4 ft 9 in)
  • Traits : Personality : Temper (Quick)
  • Family : Relationship : Mate - Noted (Alfredo Codona)
  • Vocation : Entertainment : Circus/ Animal acts (Acrobat)
  • Notable : Awards : Hall of Fame (International Circus)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession (Circus star)