Grand Canyon Daredevil Nik Wallenda Beats Family Curse

Grand canyon tight rope walker, Nik Wallenda, crossed the Little Colorado River Gorge this weekend on a wire. Nik did the stunt without the use of a safety harness.

Did you know that Nik Wallenda comes from a long line of tightrope walkers (no pun intended) and stunt performers. And that the Grand canyon crosser is one of the lucky few Wallendas NOT to have died at work?

Karl Wallenda, Nik’s late grandfather, was born in 1905 in Germany. Karl was born to a circus family and began performing himself at the age of 6. When he formulated the group as an adult, they toured Europe for many years before being scouted and brought to America.

The daredevil family act were originally known as The Great Wallendas. The press in the 1940s coined the family The Flying Wallendas following a performance they did in Akron, Ohio. During the act, the performers fell off the tightrope but fortunately none of them were hurt. A reporter who witnessed the act said: “The Wallendas fell so gracefully that it seemed as if they were flying.”

The families bad luck began in 1962 when they performed at The Shrine Circus in Detroit. In that incident, one of the performers during the act faltered and three men crashed to the ground. Karl Wallenda’s son-in-law, Richard Faughnan, died as did his nephew, Dieter Schepp. His adopted son, Mario was paralyzed from the waist down in the accident.

This wasn’t the end of the tragedy for the family as just a year later Rietta, Karl’s sister-in-law, plummeted to her death. In 1972, another son-in-law, Richard Guzman, was killed when he touched a live electric wire attached to the metal rigging.

Nik Wallenda‘s grandfather Karl died in 1978, also tragically. He was performing during a promotional walk in Puerto Rico. He fell to his death walking between the towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel; he was 73.

If you want to know more about the Wallenda legacy, watch this short ‘Flying Wallenda Historical Piece by Gordon Mackay.


We are pleased that granson Nik Wallenda has had more luck than other family members and that he crossed the Grand canyon successfully.

Do you think stunt performers and tightrope walkers should take more safety precautions when doing stunts? Or does this take away from the excitement of the act for the spectators? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below