The celebrated French tightrope walker and chair-balancer known as Henry’s, who balanced high above the Alps, Niagara Falls and for months over a supermarket in his hometown, has died.
Senator and Saint-Etienne Mayor Maurice Vincent said in a statement that Henry’s died on Friday.
Henry’s, whose real name was Henri Rechatin, once walked along the cable that carries cable cars to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi in the Alps.
Vincent said Henry’s once balanced above the Grand Canyon and that such international stunts helped promote Saint-Etienne around the world.
On the Canadian side of Niagara Falls in 1975, he balanced on a platform attached to a motorcycle that his friend, motorcyclist Frank Lucas, rode across the cable over the Whirlpool Rapids, all while Rechatin’s wife hung from a pole he carried on his shoulders, according to the Niagara Falls Public Library.
The journey across was not without incident. At one point Rechatin had to stop while Lucas, who had never performed this type of stunt before, could regain his composure. The trio did make it across unscathed.
On the 20th anniversary of his tightrope walk Rechatin attempted to secure permission from authorities to repeat his stunt. He was promptly turned down by the Parks Police.
Several times, atop tall buildings or overlooking precipices, he sat on a chair balanced on its back legs, which were perched on upside down glasses which in turn sat on another chair, also propped up on glasses. One such stunt was in 1996 on the edge of the roof of Moscow’s Rossiya Hotel, 44m up.
Rechatin is most famous in France for spending six months in 1973 on a cable 20m above a supermarket in Saint-Etienne.
Photographs from the stunt show that while he often walked along the wire, he could also sit on a small platform balanced on the cable. In one photograph, he is sitting down to shave.
He was 82, according to French press reports.
Additional reporting by staff writer