Oct 8, 2015

Jimmy Cavaretta: 1970s Trapeze Artist and Playgirl Model

Donny and Marie Osmond weren't the only gay-vague brother-sister act of the 1970s.  They had to contend with Jimmy and Terry Cavaretta.

Born in 1949, Jimmy Cavaretta began training in the circus arts when he was still a toddler, and at the age of 13 started a trapeze act with his younger sister Terry.  The following year his other sisters got in on the act, and he became the "catcher" and the only boy in the teenage Flying Cavarettas.

Not since teen idols David and Ricky Nelson had a trapeze act gotten so much media attention.  There were articles in all of the teen magazines.  They performed on  Ed Sullivan and The Hollywood Palace, and Jimmy got to be one of the "bachelors" on The Dating Game.

They were headliners at the Circus Circus hotel/casino  in Las Vegas from 1968 to 1973.

Then they broke up, Terry to form the Flying Terrells duo, with her husband Ron as the "catcher."  Jimmy joined the Flying Medallions, and toured with the Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Jimmy also did some acting and modeling work.  In January 1976, his enormous pecs and other...um, attributes...were featured in a nude photo spread in Playgirl.

The media was coy about mentioning his wife.  They wanted him to be available, an object of desire to the thousands of spectators who gasped at his acrobatics -- and his attributes -- every day at Circus Circus.

Of course, he also became the subject of gay rumors.

In 1976, Terry's husband and partner died in a plane crash, and Jimmy agreed to take his place in the Flying Terrells.  The siblings continued to headline in Las Vegas, and toured in Europe and Australia.

In 1984, they won a Silver Clown Award at the International Circus Festival in Monte Carlo.  The presenter was Hollywood legend Cary Grant.

In 1991, Terry got pregnant and decided that it was time to retire, so the act ended.

But the two continued to perform on occasion through the 1990s.

Today Terry runs the Terry Cavaretta Trapeze Experience along with her husband, juggler Rejean St. Jules.  Jim is retired and living in Las Vegas.