The sad story of La Jeune Marletta

La Jeune Marletta, Ice Skater  (Born a nameless orphan, Chicago, USA. 19??/1915 )

La Marletta was adopted by Bernhard Salchow (Father of Ulrich Salchow, the inventor of the jump bearing his name(1) He adopted the little child, after immigrating to the United States from Sweden, leaving his blood related family behind, in 1910. Mr Salchow started training La Marletta (then believed to be approximately four years of age) immediately after he found her. This fierce ice skating trainer taught her to do a Grande Jetez followed by a Salchow with an extra 3/4 rotation. She performed this jump-set many times at  various Vaudeville shows in the group act; Gisele on Ice, directed by Mr Salchow himself. She was the first female performer to execute the Salchow jump, a fact often mistakenly credited to Theresa Weld, who performed it at the 1920 Summer Olympics.

Doom came upon her at the young age of five years (or one year after she had been adopted). During her performance of Gisele on Ice her partner failed to catch her after her perfectly executed jump set. She crashed to the ground, as she lay still on the ice the entire corps de ballet went on with the show, and skated over her petite body. Marletta’s spine was badly bruised, her neck was fiercly dislocated and her upper teeth moved back and forth, her feet were cut of at her ankles. She was hospitalized for 12 months but never recovered, La Jeune Marletta died (presumably) at the age of six years.

To preserve her delicate, broken body she is kept in water, to remain a memory frozen in time.

(1) Ulrich Salchow

©Mimi Berlin, La Jeune Marletta, Ice Skater. 2013. 1920s glass, 1970s ceramic and plastic, water. 6.5 x 11 cm.

La Jeune Marletta is part of the History of Circus Legends. View the complete series History of Circus Legends HERE