- The Washington Times - Friday, December 15, 2006

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Duina Zacchini Norman, a member of a famed circus family who joined the human cannonball act when her brothers were drafted, has died. She was 82.

Mrs. Norman died Dec. 13 in Nashville, where she had lived after a circus career that began on the trapeze when she was 16, Phillips-Robinson Funeral Home said.

The Flying Zacchinis had traveled Africa and Europe during the 1920s and ‘30s performing a cannonball routine perfected by the father, Edmundo Zacchini.

By the time they moved to Tampa, Fla., and joined the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus the year Mrs. Norman was 12, she had been training for two years to become a trapeze artist.

But when Mrs. Norman’s brothers went off to fight in World War II, her father trained his two daughters to take their place as human projectiles in the cannonball show.

Mrs. Norman continued with the cannonball act for more than 20 years and was featured on a Life magazine cover, in some movies and on Ed Sullivan’s TV variety show, her family said.

She settled in Nashville after meeting her husband, Jack Norman Jr., at the circus. They later divorced.

“She was the queen of the circus. She was probably one of the greatest women trapeze artists that’s ever been,” her ex-husband said.

After she gave up performing, she raised a family and opened an antique shop.

Mrs. Norman is survived by her brothers, Hugo and Rene Zacchini of Tampa, Fla.; and daughters Pia Stratton and Valerie Sanders of Nashville and Melody Vela of Laredo, Texas.

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