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Jimmy Rae, 89; Acrobat, Dancer Did Handstand Atop the Eiffel Tower

May 21, 2006|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Jimmy Rae, 89, a high-flying acrobat, diver, dancer and nightclub entertainer who once performed a one-armed handstand on a railing atop the Eiffel Tower, died April 30 of kidney failure at a hospital in Daly City, Calif.

Nicknamed the Acro-Comedian by a publicist, Rae was in great demand by the time he was in his early 20s. He appeared with the Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey bands and toured with Eddy Duchin and his orchestra.

As a headliner, he appeared at Radio City Music Hall, the Rainbow Room, and the Paramount and Roxy theaters in New York City.

One of his most daring stunts was the one-armed handstand atop the Eiffel Tower in 1935. Rae was the picture of sartorial elegance, doing his handstand while attired in suit, tie, shirt and loafers.

Born Stanislaus Theodosius Rubanowski in Baltimore, Rae took up gymnastics at an early age. The death of his father forced Rae to quit school at age 12. He worked in vaudeville and in circuses to support his family.

A self-taught pilot, Rae flew for a military transport company during World War II and later worked for Northwest Airlines.

He appeared on Ed Sullivan's and Arthur Godfrey's programs, both variety-show staples of 1950s television.

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