Robert and Frances Musselman, and later their daughter Maxine, performed under the professional name of Fisher during the kaleidoscopic “golden age” of trapeze throughout the first half of the 20th century. With their name on marquees and their faces grinning from posters all across the globe, they were known as Bob Fisher’s Five Fearless Flyers (or simply, The Fearless Flyers, on those occasions when there were more or less than five members). The troupe was one of many that sprang from and/or associated themselves with Bloomington, Illinois – “The Trapeze Capital of the World.” The couple had, at one time, been involved with the Flying Wards, and members of that act would later work in the Five Fearless Flyers. Some of the Fisher ranks moved on to center ring stardom, performing with triple somersaulting legends, The Flying Concellos.
This collection is comprised primarily of the cherished photographs of a family that traveled the world together as a working flying return trapeze troupe—much of what has been digitized has not been seen outside of the Musselman family until now.
Born into trapeze royalty, Maxine Musselman accompanied her high-flying parents on their world travels when not attending school in Bloomington, Illinois.
Frances McBeth followed her older sister Blanche into the circus life as a young woman. She was a founding member of the Fearless Flyers with her husband Bob Musselman and remained a principal cast member until her sudden death in 1940.
Bob Musselman owned and managed the Fearless Flyers act from its advent in 1924 until his retirement decades later.
The ever-changing cast of the Fearless Flyers had two core members: Bob Musselman and his wife Frances. In the early 1930s, their teenage daughter Maxine joined the act.
Frances Musselman’s sister Blanche and her husband Fred Lasere traveled the Vaudeville circuit as Lasere & Lasere in the 1910s and ‘20s.
Bob Musselman’s sister Vera and her husband Tony performed as the Aerial Patts until Tony’s death in 1928. Their daughter Charlotte, born the same year as Maxine, also worked as a teenage aerialist.
Just 14 years old when she debuted on the trapeze, Dolores flew with her aunt and uncle Bob and Frances Musselman between 1929 and 1930.