Henry Roland

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Henry D. Roland
Born (1894-03-02)March 2, 1894
Germany
Died October 8, 1937(1937-10-08) (aged 43)
Ottway / Greeneville, Tennessee
Cause of death Fall from height[1]
Other names The Human Fly
Years active 1924-1937
Known for Free climbing tall buildings
Spouse(s) Anna Roland (m. ?. – div. 1928)
Blannis Roland
Children Helen
Parent(s) Henry Roland, Sr.[1]

Henry Roland, also known as D.D. Roland, was an American and daredevil and "human fly" [2] who became famous for free climbing buildings around the country in the 1920s and 1930s.[3][4] He began his high flying antics in 1924 to public acclaim. Roland identified himself as The Human Fly, a name that was also used by several other performers with similar acts.[5]

Career[edit]

Roland traveled the country with his act and climbed buildings as far apart as Texas[6] and Montana.

Roland's high profile stunts included climbs of the Cleveland Hotel,[7] the Davis County Courthouse,[3] the Kearny County Courthouse,[8] Allentown National Bank,[9] Roland's 1926 climb of the Tribune Building in Tampa, Florida attracted more than 15,000 viewers.[10] Roland survived one highly publicized fall in his career: "he fell from the third floor of the McAlpin Hotel in New York City. He crashed through an awning on the way down and this broke the force of the fall. It nearly cost him his life, however, and only after many months in a hospital was he able to continue his dare devil occupation." Even a close brush with death could not keep Roland from performing, and he worked to make his shows ever more thrilling after his return.

Death[edit]

Roland's final act occurred in Greene, Tennessee in 1937.[11] He again fell during a stunt but this time there was no awning to break his fall.[12] A contemporary trade magazine set up what happened: "It had long been his ambition to develop a new act that would give more thrills than his former acts, and last winter he realized it by bringing out a high trapeze and awaying pole routing, performed without a safety net, 110 feet above the ground. At the Ottway Fair, Greenville, Tenn.,[sic] October 7, while completing the finale of his trapeze, a forward somersault to ankle catch, a gust of wind blew his trapeze bar from under him and he fell to his death." [13] His death certificate identified a "broken right femur, broken bones of hands, probably internal injuries, probably fractured skull" and concluded that he was killed by a "crush injury" secondary to his fall.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Fox, H.W. (7 October 1937), Certificate of Death (Electronic copy of original typed paper document) (Death certificate), Greene County, Tennessee: State of Tennessee, State Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics 
  2. ^ "Man balancing on two chairs at edge of tall building roof". LOOK Magazine. 1937. Retrieved 14 March 2013. D. D. Roland human fly 
  3. ^ a b Evans, Rudy. "HENRY "DARE-DEVIL" ROLAND, THE AMAZING HUMAN FLY". Davis County Courthouse. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "It happened here". The Morning Record. 22 September 1975. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  5. ^ B. R. Hoffman (31 October 2012). Life After: A Biography. WestBow Press. pp. 5–6. ISBN 978-1-4497-6956-7. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  6. ^ "The Human Fly Performed Here". The Crosbyton Review. 17 May 1929. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  7. ^ "2,000 Persons See Human Fly Climb Building". Herald-Journal. Mar 28, 1926. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  8. ^ Roy T. Bang (1952). Heroes Without Medals: A Pioneer History of Kearney County, Nebraska. Warp Publishing Company. p. 128. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  9. ^ "`Human Fly' Buzzes Roofs". The Morning Call. July 23, 1992. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "Plans to Climb Bank Building". The Evening Independent. Feb 18, 1926. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "The Final Curtain". The Billboard. 16 October 1937. p. 33. ROLAND -- D.D., 42, aerialist and human fly, a native of Pennsylvania, killed in a 62-foot fall while performing at Greeneville (Tenn.) Community Fair October 7. 
  12. ^ "Fall Kills Aerialist". Associated Press in Los Angeles Times. Oct 8, 1937. p. 2. GREENEVILLE (Tenn.) D. D. Roland, veteran trapeze performer, was injured fatally late today when he plunged more than sixty feet from a pole on which he was performing at the Ottway Community Fair. 
  13. ^ Cooke, William (Oct 30, 1937). "Tribute to Late D. D. Roland, Noted 'Human Fly' and Aerialist". The Billboard. p. 50. It had long been his ambition to develop a new act that would give more thrills than his former acts, and last winter he realized it by bringing out a high trapeze and awaying pole routing, performed without a safety net, 110 feet above the ground. At the Ottway Fair, Greenville, Tenn., October 7, while completing the finale of his trapeze, a forward somersault to ankle catch, a gust of wind blew his trapeze bar from under him and he fell to his death.