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Hugo Zacchini, circus performer and artist

Hugo Zacchini

Oct. 20 1898 – Oct. 20 1975

Cannon act
Hugo Zacchini cannon act
Click to enlarge
Hugo Zacchini entering cannon 1948
Click to enlarge
Hugo entering the cannon in 1948

Hugo Zacchini was born on October 20, 1898 in Santa Ana, Peru to Maddalen and Ildebrando Zacchini. The Zucchini family of Italy, had performed in circuses for countless generations. Hugo's father's circus was touring Peru at the time of Hugo's birth. Hugo grew up on his father's circus, where he learned to perform Juggling, trapeze and many more circus acts.

The famous Zacchini cannon was designed in 1922 by Hugo's father Ildebrando, with the help of Hugo and his brothers Edmondo and Bruno. The cannon act was first performed publicly, on the Zacchini Circus while performing in Egypt.

In1928 while Hugo was performing his cannon act in Copenhagen, Denmark, he was noticed by John Ringling North who immediately offered Zacchini a contract with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Hugo remained with the RBBB as a featured attraction for ten years.

On Feb 12 1930 Hugo married Elsbeth, born in Berlin Germany on February 11 1909.

In 1948 Hugo Zacchini appeared with the "Mighty Hoosier State Shows" an Indiana based carnival owned by W. R. Geren., where he was shot over two Ferris Wheels set side bye side an incredible feat (see photo below left).

Although better known as the "human cannonball", Zacchini was also an accomplished artist, his paintings are greatly sought after today. Hugo became friends with Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Hugo had studied art at the Rome Arts Academy in Italy and received a Master's in Art degree from Jamestown Academy in New York. Hugo also held two engineering degrees from the University of Florida.

On October 20, 1975, at age 77 Hugo Zacchini died of a stroke in San Bernardino, California.

Hugo Zacchini painting of Lillian Leitzel
Zacchin's painting of
Lillian Leitzel's entrance into Heaven.

Click to enlarge

Hugo Zacchini
Hugo Zacchini the Human Cannonball
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Hugo Zacchini flying over two Farris Wheels
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Hugo shooting over Farris Wheels


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