Edit ModuleShow Tags

Vintage San Diego: Man on a Wire

San Diego Stadium on August 30, 1975


Share your vintage photo of San Diego! Send your pic and story to erinm@sandiegomagazine.com.

By the Numbers

1780 - Karl Wallenda’s ancestors began performing circus acts, in the Austro-Hungarian empire

1905 - Karl was born

5,268 - Padres game-day attendance preceding Karl’s act

600 - Steps it took Karl to get across the stadium

6 - Years the Padres had been a Major League team when Wallenda walked

20 - Games Padres left-handed pitcher Randy Jones won that year

The Padres had just lost 5–1 in a game against the Montreal Expos when fans were treated to a special performance. Wearing a tie and slippers, 70-year-old Karl Wallenda walked on a wire across what was then San Diego Stadium (later known as Jack Murphy, and now Qualcomm).

Here, photographer Joe Holly captured the stunt for the San Diego Union. In the postgame radio show, Jerry Coleman narrated with a shaking voice. Wallenda was balancing 130 feet above the ground without a net.

Karl was a fearless member of the famous Wallenda family. Growing up in Germany, he mastered tricks like doing a handstand on top of several stacked chairs before taking up wire walking. He later performed with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Karl Wallenda’s career ended less than three years after this photo was taken, when he fell to his death in Puerto Rico, due to incorrectly connected guy-ropes. Today, Karl’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren still perform high-wire circus acts. As they say, the show must go on.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

From the Archives: A Working Woman in 1950

More than 50 years ago, being a "career woman" meant jobs in art and modeling and an income for clothes and dinner parties

From the Archives: Vanna White Was on Our Cover

In June 2003, the Wheel of Fortune star graced our cover—and that wasn't the only shocker

From the Archives: We Were Not Dog's Best Friend

Plenty has changed in pet ownership since 1976
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Best of San Diego Party 2018
  2. The Best of San Diego 2018
    We crown 103 winners in food, shopping, fitness, kids’ activities, and more
  3. Javier Plascencia Eyes Barrio Logan
    The award-winning chef is all over Mexico, but looks to make a San Diego comeback
  4. Stop Killing Chloes
    How California is very knowingly killing the mom and pop restaurant
  5. A Sneak Peek at ‘The Heart of Rock & Roll’
    The Old Globe’s newest world-premiere musical promises a familiar soundtrack and all the good feels of an ’80s rom-com
  6. What San Diego Women Want
    53 working women share their compelling stories on navigating pay equity, the baby penalty, #MeToo, and more
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags