13 thoughts on “Video of the week – The Yong Brothers”

  1. Johnny and Walter were the best act of their kind. The name “Yong Brothers” would always come up first when the conversation was about hand balancing acts. I first met them when i was touring with my parents on the Ringling show in 1957 when i was 6 years old. In 1971 when i was working my own act i toured with them for 3 months with the Harlem Globetrotters European Tour. Johnny( The bottom man) and i roomed together during that period to save money on tour. Walter, his brother had his wife with him on the tour. Johnny and i became good friends and it was a fun tour. I watched almost every show they did that season (which was between 80 and 90) and never saw them even wobble a little during the act.Solid!! Amazing! Johnnys wife Astrid was also a hand balancer but i never saw her work. That tour 40 years ago was the last time i saw them. I think Walter stayed in Germany with his wife and Johnny lived in Sarasota,Fla. From what ive heard when they retired the act Johnny became a MotorCycle Cop and later a prison Warden.

  2. Thanks Mike!

    I have to admit that I only heard of the brothers very recently, through conversations with Bob Bramson, who also worked with them on several occasions. The act is just crazy.

    Thanks again for the extra information!

  3. I just realized that there closing trick is not on this video for some reason. Johnny did a one arm on a cane and Walter did a one arm on Johnnys neck. You may be able to find the complete act on You Tube.

    1. Gentlemen! If I may add this info: my father was just talking about them yesterday, because they worked in the same circus and father (doesnt speak/understands really good english) made a movie and they are on it as well and they were talking about their 3rd partner a woman (father understood sister, but it seems a wife) and what father understood the woman fell once so badly that she hit her spine and she was paralized to one of her side…

  4. Great! Think you will enjoy this – contact me for more photos and the really amazing appendix of performances.

    For Immediate Release

    Contact: Robert Van Praag
    yongbrothers@yahoo.com
    (*FOR A WORD DOCUMENT THAT SHOWS THIS RELEASE WITH PHOTOS AND THE APPENDIX FROM THE BOOK WHICH HIGHLIGHTS JOHNNY YONG’S CAREER CONTACT ME)

    Johnny Yong

    A Balanced Life©

    “What do I want to be when I grow up? The same thing I wanted when I was five, six, twenty, and forty…to be in the circus…”

    Johnny Yong, beginning his career in the circus in 1941 with The Yong Sisters and Brothers, progressing to The Yong Brothers and Sister, and ultimately twenty-five years known throughout the world as The Yong Brothers is undoubtedly – and undisputedly – one of the best hand-to-hand balancers ever to have graced the stage.

    In his new book A Balanced Life Johnny does not merely talk about what it was like to headline the world’s greatest circuses from Cirque Bouglione to Ringling Brothers, venues from Radio City to Le Lido de Paris, casinos from Circus Circus to Casino du Liban but rather all of the experiences that occur when your life is the circus…the stage, be it live or televised.

    A Balanced Life takes the reader “behind the scenes and the story in-between” as Johnny became a star in three continents and shared the stage (and in many case friendship) with the likes of Bob Hope and Lana Turner as well as Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf.

    Not to be discouraged by encounters with the law in many countries where he was performing (be it Lebanon, France, Russia, or the United States) when Johnny retired from performing at the age of forty-six and settled in Sarasota, Florida he began his second career with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department.

    Today, at the young age of seventy-six, Johnny, after thirty years with the Department is known as Lieutenant Johnny Yong…and is far from retiring.

    At one time the quote was:

    “The amazing, fantastic performance of the Yong Brothers is the absolute highlight of a night full of spectaculars.”

    ~Chicago Tribune
    Now the quote is:

    “What do I want to be when I grow up?

    ~Johnny Yong

    A Balanced Life is about the life of this talented and gifted performer with dozens of original photographs and newspaper clippings illustrating the phenomenal, and often dangerous, feats of The Yong Brothers.

    The book will be available July fifteenth through numerous online stores (i.e. Amazon, Barnes & Noble).

    For more information or to order and receive A Balanced Life prior to its availability online contact: yongbrothers@yahoo.com

    (*To see a live performance: http://circopedia.org/index.php/Yong_Brothers_Video_1978)

    (*FOR A WORD DOCUMENT THAT SHOWS THIS RELEASE WITH PHOTOS AND THE APPENDIX FROM THE BOOK WHICH HIGHLIGHTS JOHNNY YONG’S CAREER CONTACT ME)

    1. Dear Robert,

      wow, thanks for that update and the information!

      It is rather crazy timing: I was introduced to the Yong Brothers through recent conversations with the juggler Bob Bramson, whose own memoirs I spent the last month translating from German to English. His book, which tells several stories involving Johnny, will also be available very soon, perhaps also mid-July!

      It is a good month for circus memoirs.

      1. “Crazy timing” is putting it mildly! I would be very interested in hearing more about what you did for Bob Branson (who Johnny was very happy to hear about – this is my first entrance into the circus community (I made the mistake of thinking the other books/memories I have written were fascinating) and I am astonished how close “a family” – especially the “experienced” ones (I really hope that is politically correct) – the circus is. I have no idea exactly in what capacity, but I have a feeling we might (and I would enjoy) be able to work together so I would really like to hear more about what you do, write, translate, etc. – sue me, sometimes crazy timing is more like fate than crazy! — Robert

  5. Bob Good here,

    I was a semi pro balancer and always admired the Yongs. They were simply the best. In 1968 I saw them on Circus Scott in Sweden for the last time in person. I still have the autographed pic from the program. There is also a young adults book on their early years before they got to America. In my five albums of handbalancing pics their pics rank at the top. I look forward to the new book.

    1. Thanks Bob. You can get the book online through Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Look forward to hearing your comments.

  6. Contact: Robert Van Praag * yongbrothers@yahoo.com
    _______________________________________________________________________

    Legendary Performer * Sheriff’s Lieutenant * World Record Power Lifter
    Johnny Yong
    A Balanced Life©
    “What do I want to be when I grow up? The same thing I wanted when I was five, six, twenty, and forty…to be in the circus…”
    In forty years of performing Johnny Yong (The Yong Brothers) became a legend as the world’s best hand-to-hand acrobat whose achievements have not been equaled to this day. Not only was he the highlight in every great circus of the world (from Ringling to Cirque Bouglione), he performed internationally in the world’s finest cabarets and theaters (The Lido, Radio City, Moulin Rouge), the most elite casinos (Circus Circus, Casino du Liban), Royal Command Performances throughout Europe, and on television throughout the world performing alongside such greats as Bob Hope, Marlene Dietrich, Lana Turner, and Meadowlark Lemon – to mention but a few
    In his new book A Balanced Life Johnny Yong reveals all of the experiences that occur when your life is the circus…the stage, be it live or televised.
    “We are enjoying it immensely and struck by how you weave the story of the journeys of you, and your family so cleverly, and how your story is, in part, the story of every one of us back then. The tile itself is ingenious – it accurately encompasses your dreams and your life – Congratulations on a true literary achievement – it’s sure to be a best seller!”
    ~Siegfried & Roy
    At Age forty-six Johnny retired from performing and two weeks later joined the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department, recently just honored for his thirtieth year, and Lieutenant Johnny Yong at the age of seventy-six is far from retiring.
    “A Balanced Life is the autobiography of the renowned equilibrist Johnny Yong who I clearly recall seeing in 1953 at the prestigious Bertram Mills Circus…What a remarkable, interesting life this man has led! An autobiography not to be missed.”
    ~Don Stacey, King Pole
    In his sixties Johnny was encouraged by the Sheriff’s Department to enter the Florida Sate Law Enforcement and Fire Department Olympic Games. He immediately began winning gold medals in Power lifting, Bench Press and various track and field events.
    While he had already won 25 gold medals in power lifting, in 2006 – at the age of 71 – after having broken the state and national record, Johnny Yong broke the world record for power lifting and is winning awards and breaking more records to this day.
    “..as taut and efficient as the muscle of its performing subject… fun to read… takes on life beyond the spotlight of a legend…narrative that is “balanced” by self-assurance, the instinct for survival…fascinating glimpses into a rich, disciplined life awaiting its next act and the applause it may bring….writing from the heart, Yong inspires the reader’s ovation.”
    ~Mort Gamble, White Tops

    A Balanced Life is about the life of this talented and gifted performer with dozens of original photographs and newspaper clippings illustrating the phenomenal, and often dangerous, feats of The Yong Brothers.
    *To see a live performance: http://circopedia.org/index.php/Yong_Brothers_Video_1978 as well as numerous other internet sites with photos, videos, and reviews of The Yong Brothers.
    Contact: yongbrothers@yahoo.com ISBN: 978-1-936343-98-00)

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