The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

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"The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze"
Jules Léotard2.jpg
The subject of the song, Jules Léotard
Music by Gaston Lyle, Alfred Lee
Lyrics by George Leybourne
Published 1867
Language English

"The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze", originally published under the title "The Flying Trapeze" and also known as "The Man on the Flying Trapeze", is a 19th-century popular song about a flying trapeze circus performer, Jules Léotard. The refrain states:

He'd fly through the air with the greatest of ease,
That daring young man on the flying trapeze.

The song was first published in 1867, with words written by the British lyricist and singer, George Leybourne, with music by Gaston Lyle, and arranged by Alfred Lee. The lyrics were based on the phenomenal success of trapeze artist Jules Léotard.

The following century, the song inspired the 1934 short story The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze by William Saroyan. The film Man on the Flying Trapeze came out in 1935, starring W. C. Fields and Mary Brian.

Recordings[edit]

Comedian Walter O'Keefe recorded the song in 1934, which became his theme song whenever he appeared on radio or television. It was later recorded by Don Redman & His Orchestra (1936), Eddie Cantor, Burl Ives, Cliff "Ukelele Ike" Edwards, Spike Jones, Ian Whitcomb, Les Paul & Mary Ford, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Crispin Hellion Glover, and Bruce Springsteen, among others. It also appeared (as "Fying Beat") on the MGM album The Beatles with Tony Sheridan & Guests, performed by The Titans. In 1994, the people at Disney wrote their own lyrics of this song from the Mickey's Fun Songs home video: "Let's Go to the Circus".

Cinema[edit]

A version preceding the Fields film was performed by the Our Gang (Little Rascals) kids as the International Silver String Submarine Band in the 1934 short film Mike Fright. A second Our Gang rendition, by Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, was later included in the 1939 short Clown Princes.

The passengers on the bus sang the song in the 1934 Frank Capra film It Happened One Night. The song was also the basis of the 1934 Popeye the Sailor musical cartoon, titled The Man on the Flying Trapeze.

Dick Powell sings it twice in the 1934 Film 'Twenty Million Sweethearts', also starring Ginger Rogers and Pat O'Brien

In The Bridges at Toko-Ri the USS Savo Island's band plays the refrain while Mickey Rooney's character (CPO Mike Forney) is being transferred via highline to a ship alongside.

The song was performed by young children in the Technicolor 1934 Vitaphone short "Show Kids" written by Joe Traub, and directed by Ralph Staub.

Published versions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Flying Trapeze" (Copy of Lyrics from a July 11, 1874 Broadside from the National Library of Scotland). Retrieved 2008-03-21.