Posts Tagged ‘Daredevils New York City’

The man who dove off the Flatiron Building

June 15, 2015

Henri LaMothe was a showman by trade. Born in Chicago, he first made a living dancing the Charleston.

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“Then came the Depression, when jobs weren’t so easy to find,” LaMothe said in 1977, “and I started diving into the water for a living.”

LaMothe came up with a signature diving stunt he ended up doing thousands of times around the country: from a height of 40 feet, he’d do his “flying squirrel” dive into a pool filled with four feet of water.

HenrilemothedivemcnyIn 1952, he decided to celebrate his birthday by climbing 40 feet up the Flatiron Building and diving into a 4-foot pool on the sidewalk.

He repeated the birthday stunt for 20 years, decreasing the water in the pool every year. By 1974, at age 70, he was down to about a foot of water, states The New York Times.

How did he not crack open his skull?

“When I’m on the platform I go through yoga, stretching and limbering exercises,” he told a newspaper. “Then I wipe out all thoughts and concentrate on the circle and sense my aim, which is what zen is.”

LaMothe discontinued his yearly Flatiron birthday dive after 1974 but continued diving around the country until his death in 1987.

If a man like LaMothe tried that stunt in today’s New York, his arrest would be all over social media before he had time to dry himself off on 23rd Street!

[Top: New York Daily News; Bottom: Museum of the City of New York]

A daredevil stuntman on a 42nd Street skyscraper

April 8, 2013

Why is this man standing on his head on a skyscraper being fed donuts?

It’s a publicity stunt, of course. That’s Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly, famous in the 1920s for his flagpole-sitting feats (his record is 49 days).

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By 1939, when this photo was taken, the flagpole-sitting fad was over, and Kelly was reduced to doing gimmicks for events such as National Donut Dunking Week—which is the reason he’s upside-down on the roof of the Chanin Building on East 42nd Street.

He gained notoriety for his daredevil feats in life, and then for the way he died near his apartment on West 51st Street. “Broke and on welfare, Kelly dropped dead in 1952 while walking between two parked cars in New York City,” states yourememberthat.com.

“Clutched tightly in one arm was a scrapbook containing clippings and mementos from his glory days as King of the Flagpole Sitters.”

[Photo: New York Daily News]