Del Moral Troupe
Del Moral Troupe
Inducted into the Ring of Fame: 2015
Circus Profession: Perch Pole
Circo-Pedia the online Circus Encylopedia defines the Perch-Pole
as a long perch held vertically on a performer’s shoulder or forehead, on the top of which an acrobat executes various balancing figures.
What it does not tell you is as with most circus acts, it takes years, months and countless hours of dedication; with practice both on the ground and on top of the pole to make it an act. Even then there is the costuming, presentation, timing, music and coordination between the members before a circus act is deemed ready. And the ultimate goal is to make it look easy. That is what the Del Moral Troupe was able to achieve, all of the above.
The Del Moral Troupe used a 25 foot tall pole that my uncle Manuel would balance on his forehead. In an original technique he would dance around with the pole on his forehead to find his center of balance. Jorge Del Moral and his sister Mavicha would climb up the pole until they reached the top. Once they were at the top they would do a series of tricks using the hand balance and head balance at the top of the pole. While the degree of difficulty was at a well advanced level for its day, the real beauty was the sum of its parts. This resulted in what is referred to as “six minutes of perfection.” They were able to work together gracefully and exemplified the Latin influence that is their heritage in their dance movements during the act.
The Del Moral’s family career in the art of perch pole originated in the 1940’s and spanned in excess of 30 years.
The perch-pole act tradition was continued by Eddie Del Moral and his brother Jorge Jr. for many years in the 1980’s where they were once again a feature attraction on many shows.
The act was composed of Bob Yerkes, who was the catcher, his wife, Dorothy, and Reggie and his wife, Bonnie, née Cristiani—a member of the famous Italian family of equestrians, whom he had met on Muscle Beach in the early 1950s. Between circus contracts, Bob and Reggie performed movie stunts in Hollywood; Reggie appeared notably in Michael Todd’s award-winning movie, Around The World In Eighty Days (1956).
The Flying Armors (c.1958)
At five feet seven inches (1.72 meters), Reggie was rather tall for a flyer; yet in 1962, Yerkes caught Reggie’s first triple—a trick Reggie Armor would perform regularly with a success rate of more than 90%. In short order, The Flying Artons became a star act; Reggie was sometimes compared to the legendary Alfredo Codona, and he and his partners were featured in all major American circuses, and on television on ABC’s Hollywood Palace in 1956.
The Flying Armors
After a long association, Bob Yerkes and Reggie Armor eventually parted ways, and Reggie continued with his own act, the Flying Armors, which included his daughter, SaSa Armor. The Flying Armors appeared in England, on Thames Television’s Hippodrome (1966), and are one of the acts featured in Gilbert Gates’s circus documentary, Rings Around The World (released in 1966).
When Reggie retired from flying, he and his daughter created an aerial thrill act, with a rotating contraption that included a motorcycle Reggie rode on a small circular wooden platform up in the air. In 1978, while they were performing their act for the last time, outdoors at a church benefit fair, the carabiner holding Reggie’s safety belt broke, and he fell sixty feet to the concrete walkway below. He was severely injured and had to undergo no less than six surgeries that kept him hospitalized for several months.
That was the end of Reggie Armor’s performing career. He continued to work in a circus management capacity and as an event promoter. Reggie and Bonnie eventually retired, and they left Sarasota, Florida, home of many circus families, to settle in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Reggie and Bonnie Armor had three children, Jay, SaSa and Reginald III. Jay, the oldest, worked as a clown in the trampoline act the family performed in addition to other acts; he was tragically killed in a random shooting in a bar on New Year’s Eve 1975, at age 21.
Reggie Armor passed away in Tulsa on May 22, 2010. He was eighty years old.
Video History Summary
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