The Steel Pier – Atlantic City, NJ

To all:

We already have the Steel Pier video on DVD. The Gureasko video needs to be screened first and then converted.

The Steel Pier Video covers a span of just over one decade from about 1929 to 1940 or so. It was shot by someone who worked at Bell Labs who was an early movie hobbyist. He came each summer and filmed whatever he saw. The water circus at Steel Pier in those days was where many of the great circus acts spent their summers. It was only later that this all moved to Sarasota and the Ringling Bros. crew. It includes clips of all the great circus acts of the 20’s and 30’s including high wire acts, animal acts in addition to the water circus acts. There are many shots of Uncle Marty in this on the diving horse and doing stunt work on boards while they were being towed by high speed motorboats. There is also a shot or two of him backstage.

This film is basically a compilation of out takes. As a result is a bit disjointed and sometimes repetitive but always fascinating. The edited film was put together for the owner of the Water Circus at Steel Pier. The out takes were given to a friend and fellow performer of Uncle Marty’s. This women was the sister of Uncle Marty’s predecessor; the performer who went blind (possibly as a result repetitive hitting the water ) during the horse diving act. Since the person on the diving horse was supposed to be a women, Uncle Marty went off dressed as a women. In one scene you will see that when he takes his bathing cap off there is long hair sewed into the back. I talked once to people in Atlantic City who have set up a museum showing artifacts of Steel Pier. They were not aware that a man ever went off on the diving horse.

Marty once told me that the way you could tell whether it was him or his predecessor on the horse was to see how they held themselves on the way down. According to him, she went down like a performer with her head held high (possibly a contributing factor as to why she went blind). He went down like a gymnast with his head buried in the horses mane. He also once told me that the greatest danger was not the fall or hitting the water, but making sure he was not kicked by the horse after they landed in the water.

The women who was the original custodian of the film used to do an act that featured her and a dog on a high speed towed board. I am not sure when she turned it over to him

Laura, your mother also has a copy of the DVD. You can see it when you visit her if you want.

Hope this is all interesting to you.


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1 Comment

  1. After seeing the photos of Marty on the diving horse the other day, Ray wanted to know what the whole thing was, so I looked it up on You Tube.. there are a fair number of videos and photo-montages up there. I couldn’t identify Marty but maybe someone else here can. I did see photos of someone riding the diving horse with his or her head down.

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