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Philippe Petit

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Philippe Petit
BornAugust 13, 1949


Philippe Petit (b. 1949) is a French high wire artist who gained fame for his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City on August 7, 1974.


Petit was born in Nemours, France and became interested in magic at a very early age. A strong rebellious streak got him expelled from five different schools, and by the age of 15 he had run away from home. By the late 1960s, he had trained himself as a wire-walker. "Within one year," he told a reporter, "I taught myself to do all the things you could do on a wire. I learned the backward somersault, the front somersault, the unicycle, the bicycle, the chair on the wire, jumping through hoops. But I thought, 'What is the big deal here? It looks almost ugly.' So I started to discard those tricks and to reinvent my art." Spurning circuses and their formulaic performances, he began performing as a street busker in Paris. In the early 1970s, he frequently juggled and worked on a slack rope in New York City's Washington Square Park.

During the Oscars, Petit performed a French Drop coin vanish during the acceptance speech by the producers of the film "Man On Wire" (a documentary about Petit's 1974 World Trade Center performance).


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