Paul Cinquevalli (30 June 1859 – 14 July 1918) was a German music hall entertainer whose speciality juggling act made him popular in the English music halls during the 19th and early 20th century.
Cinquevalli first appeared in England in 1885 with much success and settled in London, appearing in various circuses, music halls and pantomimes. In 1912, he became one of the first acts to appear in music hall's first Royal Command Performance. He is perhaps best known for being one of the first "gentleman jugglers", a description given to a male performer who juggles with everyday objects such as bottles, plates, glasses and umbrellas.
Cinquevalli was born Paul Kestner in Lissa in the Prussian Province of Posen (now Poland). His parents moved to Berlin when he was two years old. His began his career in the circus when he was 12 having been spotted in a school gymnastics display.
Cinquevalli publicized himself widely, leading to differing accounts on what of his life is fact, and what is fiction. At the age of fourteen he ran away from home to join an acrobatic troupe led by an Italian, Giuseppe Chiese-Cinquevalli. Initially he performed on high wire and trapeze, but he took up juggling while recovering from a fall. He first appeared in England in 1885 and was a success; he settled in London and appeared in various circuses, music halls and pantomimes. In 1912, he became one of the first acts to appear in the music hall's first ever Royal Command Performance.
Though he performed in a stylized costume consisting of a leotard and tights, he is generally regarded as one of the first gentleman jugglers, because he performed with everyday objects such as bottles, plates, glasses and umbrellas. One of the tricks he originated which is still performed today, was to throw a full bottle in the air, catch the neck of the bottle on the spike of an umbrella, and then open the umbrella as the liquid in the bottle ran out of it. He also incorporated feats of strength in his act. One of his trademark tricks was supporting a chair in his teeth while juggling three balls. On the chair sat an assistant reading a newspaper, and on the assistant's lap was a desk.
When the First World War commenced in 1914, Cinquevalli became ostracised as a result of his German nationality and did not appear in England after 1912. In 1885, he performed in England for the first time and became a success.
- Cinquevalli page at Juggling Hall of Fame
- Description of Cinquevalli's act from The Strand Magazine Vol XIII, Jan-June 1897
- "Paul Cinquevalli". Theatre and Performance. Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 2011-02-15.