“Diavolo performing his bicycle daredevil act before a large audience.” Conn Baker (January 31, 1871 – October 8, 1944) was an American daredevil and artist. He took up bicycle racing as a teenager in the 1880s. He soon held several world records for speed and endurance. Baker was the first person to perfect a “loop-the-loop” using a safety bicycle. He joined the Forepaugh and Sells Circus in 1901, performing under the stage name of J.C. Carter, aka, “Allo, Diavolo!” He later toured Asia, where he met his future wife Laura Calvert, a member of the Tiller Girls troupe. Baker purchased the David Beers house, a 1805 log cabin, and moved it to Norwich Avenue in Columbus to use as his studio, and later, his home; still standing, it is the oldest residence in all of Franklin County Ohio. After retiring from circus performing, he focused on his landscape painting. He was active in the Ohio Republican Party and worked for the State of Ohio Auditor’s office for many years. Photographed by Fred G, Mathiessen, 1905.

Conn Baker AKA Allo Diavolo, American Daredevil, 1905.

Source, image: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Source, title: sciencesource.com

Entitled: “Looping the Loop” shows a person going around large upright loop on bicycle. The loop the loop stunt was created by a bicycle daredevil who went by the name Allo Diavolo. To perform the loop the loop stunt a rider would ride a bicycle around a large wooden loop to loop apparatus. Some would perform the loop on roller skates and even in a car. From the top; a short arc, to ease the downward momentum for the climb, long, gradual rise, so designed to minimize the outward pressure greatest in this arc, half circle, made small so that the wheel may get past the apex with the least possible expenditure of force, wide downward art giving the least possible momentum on leaving the loop, gentle slope to the ground. According to a New York Times article on April 2, 1902, Diavolo’s spiral ellipse was 26 feet high and 18 feet wide. The ramp down to the spiral was 100 feet long, 3 feet wide, and had an angle of 45 degrees. The bicycle did not have pedals. Photographed by C.F. Pollard, 1903.

Source:

Entitled: “O.V. Babcock. Looping death trap loop. Ontario Beach Park, N.Y.” Known as the “Coney Island of western New York,” Charlotte’s Ontario Beach Park was a popular amusement area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The loop the loop stunt was created by a bicycle daredevil who went by the name Allo Diavolo. To perform the loop the loop stunt a rider would ride a bicycle around a large wooden loop to loop apparatus. Some would perform the loop on roller skates and even in a car. From the top; a short arc, to ease the downward momentum for the climb, long, gradual rise, so designed to minimize the outward pressure greatest in this arc, half circle, made small so that the wheel may get past the apex with the least possible expenditure of force, wide downward art giving the least possible momentum on leaving the loop, gentle slope to the ground. According to a New York Times article on April 2, 1902, Diavolo’s spiral ellipse was 26 feet high and 18 feet wide. The ramp down to the spiral was 100 feet long, 3 feet wide, and had an angle of 45 degrees. The bicycle did not have pedals. No photographer credited, undated.

Source:

One thought on ““Diavolo performing his bicycle daredevil act before a large audience.” Conn Baker (January 31, 1871 – October 8, 1944) was an American daredevil and artist. He took up bicycle racing as a teenager in the 1880s. He soon held several world records for speed and endurance. Baker was the first person to perfect a “loop-the-loop” using a safety bicycle. He joined the Forepaugh and Sells Circus in 1901, performing under the stage name of J.C. Carter, aka, “Allo, Diavolo!” He later toured Asia, where he met his future wife Laura Calvert, a member of the Tiller Girls troupe. Baker purchased the David Beers house, a 1805 log cabin, and moved it to Norwich Avenue in Columbus to use as his studio, and later, his home; still standing, it is the oldest residence in all of Franklin County Ohio. After retiring from circus performing, he focused on his landscape painting. He was active in the Ohio Republican Party and worked for the State of Ohio Auditor’s office for many years. Photographed by Fred G, Mathiessen, 1905.

  1. I’ve been researching Conn Baker’s life for several years and noticed there are a few inaccuracies in your piece about him. Conn Baker was not the first to perform the loop-the-loop. There were several individuals who successfully performed it before he did. The first Diavolo was a man by the name of Robert Vandevoort. He first performed the stunt in 1901 then performed it several times in the Spring of 1902 for the Forepaugh and Sells Brothers circus, most notably at Madison Square Garden in New York in April of that year. Baker didn’t perform the stunt until sometime after the death of his brother Herman, who died on July 1, 1902 and it was a few months later that he began his Diavolo career, replacing Vandevoort who was taking his act to Europe. The image you have of Diavolo looping-the-loop is not of Baker. Fred Matthiessen was not the photographer but was the individual performing the stunt. The photographer of that image was a well known Boston area photographer by the name of F.W. Glassier and the image was taken at the Brocton (Massachusetts) Fair in 1905, at a time when Baker was performing his act for the Frank Fillis circus in South Africa. There were actually quite a few loop performers who were going by the name of Diavolo. To date I have identified at least a dozen of them. I write a blog on Baker and his time as both a cyclist and as Diavolo. If you’re interested, you can read it here: https://connbaker.blogspot.com/2020/04/introduction-conn-baker-1870-1944-elite.html

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: