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1 August 1838
|Died||17 August 1870 (aged 32)|
Jules Léotard (French: [leɔtaʁ]; 1 August 1838 – 17 August 1870) was a French acrobatic performer and aerialist who developed the art of trapeze. He also created and popularized the one-piece gym wear that now bears his name and inspired the 1867 song "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze," sung by George Leybourne. He was also one of the cycling pioneers in France right before his untimely death.
After he passed his law exams, he seemed destined to join the legal profession. But at 18 he began to experiment with trapeze bars, ropes and rings suspended over a swimming pool. Léotard later joined the Cirque Napoléon.
The costume he invented was a one-piece knitted garment streamlined to suit the safety and agility concerns of trapeze performance. It also showed off his physique, impressed spectators, and took on his name.
Léotard was further immortalised as the subject of the 1867 song The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, made popular by George Leybourne.
According to notes from the Victoria and Albert Museum, Jules Léotard died in 1870 from an infectious disease (possibly smallpox). They list his year of birth as 1838 despite there being good evidence he wasn't born until much later.
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