FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Carla Wallenda, a member of the big wire action of “The Flying Wallendas” and the last surviving child of the founder of the famous company, passed away at the age of 85.
His son, Rick Wallenda, reported on social media that he died of natural causes on Saturday in Sarasota, Florida. She was the daughter of Karl Wallenda, who founded the company in Germany before moving to the United States in 1928 with great acclaim. Nik Wallenda was an air passenger aunt.
Carla Wallenda was born on February 13, 1936, and appeared in a newspaper in 1939 when she learned how to drive while her father and mother, Mati, watched it. But he said he was on the line much earlier for the first time.
“They were actually taken over the wire when I was 6 weeks old,” he said in a 2017 interview with a TV broadcaster in Sarasota. “My father rode a bike and my mother sat on his shoulder, grabbed him and introduced him to the public.”
He spent his younger years traveling the country when his father’s company performed in the Ringling Bros. circus. He had a brother, Mario, and a sister, Jenny — who all performed.
He began appearing on the family show in 1947, but according to his biography on the family’s website, it wasn’t on the high line for the first time. In 1951, his father told him he could join the big wired action if he could put a head on top of the family’s Monday pyramid. He was able to join the big-wire file later that year.
Carla Wallenda left the family performance in 1961 and formed her own company. The following season, two of Wallenda died in an accident while carrying out the pyramid. His brother was paralyzed.
Wallenda joined the family company in 1965 and replaced an aunt who died on her own.
Her husband, Richard Guzman, died in 1972 when he fell 60 meters during a performance in West Virginia. His father died in 1978 while driving through a wire through a street in Puerto Rico.
Still, it wouldn’t deter you from performing.
“Accidents can happen anywhere,” he told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in 2014. “I have to live and that’s the only way I can or want to. I did a waitress job and I hated every minute of it. Why do I go to do a job I hate?
He worked in his 70s, including in a Miley Cyrus video clip. He finally retired in 2017, at the age of 81, after appearing on a Steve Harvey TV special and putting a head on top of an 80-foot column.
“When I’m out there, all my pain and everything goes away and I’m in a world of my own,” he said in a 2017 TV interview.
His son, two daughters, Rietta Wallenda Jordan and Valerie Wallenda, and 16 grandchildren survived. The second boy, Mario, died in 1993.