Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 20, 1976 · Page 142
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 142

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 20, 1976
Page 142
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The Lallip daughters during the upside down human derby race at the West Virginia Slate Fair. I Remember... Charleston's Famous Latlip Family By S. Louise Bing Down through the years show business has ranged all the way from the old Barnum Bailey Circus to the modern X-rated movies. In the old days, there were the burlesque shows, vaudeville, Ziegfeld's Follies, carnivals, magicians, jugglers, show boats, and the outdoor performing acts of high diving--both into nets and water. In 1884, a boy was born in Waterville, Me., who from his beginning had show business in his blood. When he was 8 years old, he startled neighbors by diving from high rooftops into nets he constructed from potato bags. He had a diving bug that grew and grew. By the time he was a teenager, he was diving into nets from high ladder poles. When he was 27, he set a world record for high diving by plunging 112 feet from a pole. Like Houdini, whom he resembled in looks, David Latlip had nothing on his mind but acting. He wanted to be a showman, an entertainer. He longed to hear an audience roar and applaud--overwhelmed by his acts. David was a full-blooded French- State Magazine, June 20. 1976 man and the original family name was Latulippe. He was named David Lewis Latulippe, but the name was shortened to Latlip and David early took on the n i c k n a m e of "Captain." This was shortened to "Cap" and for the rest of his life he was known as "Cap" Latlip. David and another man named Hall, who did not participate in acting, but also loved show business got together. They traveled all over the Eastern states, went into Canada and even to Nova Scotia. Because so much equipment was needed, to say nothing of horses, elephants, lions, and tigers, Latlip and Hall assembled 37 railway cars to carry their goods. The cars were lettered Hall Latlip Shows in circus fashion. Hall was in love with a girl, who was in show business in Boston, and he took "Cap" to meet her. At the time, she was working w i t h the famous Annette Kellerman, high diving expert and swimmer. While on this visit, "Cap" was introduced to another girl, Marian Hoyle, also an expert in acrobatics, high diving, and swimming. She also was very attractive and "Cap" fell for her immediately. Before long they were married. Then disaster struck. In 1913, the Hall and Latlip Show train was wrecked and some of the animals were killed. "Cap" disposed of the train and by other means hit the road with his new wife. "Lady Marian" as she was called, was a great attraction. They traveled all over the Eastern states and the Latlip fame grew. In 1914, a baby girl was born to' David and Marian. They named her Rita. When she was a b o u t three years old, "Cap" began to train her for show business. He taught her to walk on high wires and acrobatic dancing. Everyone marveled that so small a child could do the things she did. About 1917, the Latlip f a m i l y moved into West Virginia and settled in Charleston. The Burlew Opera House was active then and soon after their arrival, "Cap" Latlip landed the job of being its stage manager. In a d d i t i o n , he erected tents, merry-go-rounds and ferris wheels to put on carnivals and outdoor shows. Soon little Rita, Lady Marian and "Cap" had everyone coming their way. The best was yet to come. In 1918, another girl was born to the Latlips. They named her Virginia, but before long she was known as "Ginger" by everyone. When she was about 3 years old, "Cap" trained her and she joined Rita before the crowds. Then, in 1921, twin girls--Roseline and Madeline--were born. As soon as they could t o d d l e , they joined the show, now there were four little girls and a greatly talented mother and father. On Reynolds Street, where the Civic Center now stands, "Cap" set up one of his most ambitious carnivals. Later it was moved to the old Luna Park on Charleston's West Side, then to South Charleston, St. Albans, K a n a w h a City, and the Dunbar Fair Grounds. Thousands poured in to watch the trapeze acts, the high diving, high wire walking, and acrobatic dancing. They also rode the merry-go-round, ferris wheel, ate hot dogs, and a cotton candy that was a Latlip specialtv. As time went by, the Latlip family entertained in practically every community of any size in West Virginia and traveled to most of the other states plus the cities of Quebec, Montreal, Winnipeg, Ontario, and Ottawa in Canada. During the winter months, when they were "off the road" and back in Charleston, they performed with vaudeville shows at the Kearse theater. Today there are many men living in Charleston who will tell you that they worked with "Cap" L a t l i p , and that he was a great, wonderful man. "Cap" always had plenty of music in his shows. There was a string bank and some of the musicians who played in it are still around. Roy Rogers, the "Singing Cowboy" played in Cap's band. He was born in Cincinnati, and his real name was" Leonard Slye. Finally, one more girl was added to the L a t l i p f a m i l y . She was named Ida May. Now there were five girls and in some acts all five worked together. Their trampoline performances were great to watch. As the Latlip family grew, so did their fame. They were in great demand -- regulars at all the fairs in West Virginia. Probably the best act of the Latlip girls was "The Human Derby Race, Upside Down." At the top of I'lcasc turn to page 4m CHAKLKHTON. W.VA. ;{ m

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