Photo Of The Day

 Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS. 07 Jun 1960, New York City, New York State, USA --- Getting some extra spring in her step, "Victoria,"a giant red kangaroo, displays perfect forms as she bounces on a trampoline at Yonker, New York. Trying to outbounce her is George Nissen, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, developer of the equipment that's shaking them both up.

Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS.
07 Jun 1960, New York City, New York State, USA — Getting some extra spring in her step, “Victoria,”a giant red kangaroo, displays perfect forms as she bounces on a trampoline at Yonker, New York. Trying to outbounce her is George Nissen, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, developer of the equipment that’s shaking them both up.

Springaroo

In 1960, George Nissen rented a kangaroo named Victoria from an animal-supply outfit on Long Island so that he could train her to hop on a trampoline he set up in Central Park. After a week of waltzing with Victoria, clasping her front paws as he taught her to bounce in time with him, Nissen finally produced a mind-bending photograph. In it, Nissen and the kangaroo stare into each other’s eyes as they levitate over the trampoline. The photo was reprinted around the world and helped establish the trampoline as a global phenomenon.

Nissen invented the trampoline in the 1930s, when, as a teenage gymnast, he and his coach created a piece of equipment out of scrap steel and tire inner tubes for his act in the Iowa Hawkeye Circus. This “bouncing rig” gave Nissen the power to leap into a back somersault. Later the two men formed a company to manufacture a portable version, and Nissen christened it with a name he acquired while performing in Mexico: Campeón de Trampolín.

After World War II, Nissen toured with his wife (who was also an acrobat), their baby and a folding trampoline — always promoting his product. It worked. By the late 1950s, “jump centers” became an attraction at gas stations around the country — kids could hop on trampolines while their parents gassed up. “It was a craze like Hula-Hoops,” says Nissen’s daughter, Dagmar Nissen Munn.

Then came the lawsuits. In the 1970s, several children suffered paralysis or were maimed after falling on Nissen equipment. “It was very sad for him,” Munn said of her father. Eventually, the Nissen Corporation could not afford to insure against these claims, and in 1989 the company shuttered its factory.

Nissen himself kept on bouncing until his death at 96. At his 80th birthday party, he shoved aside the silverware to spring into a handstand on the dinner table. Within a few years, he would have more reason to celebrate: in 2000, the trampoline became an Olympic event.

New York Times

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