The Kremka Brothers, The Skremka Sisters,
and The Salvano Family

Click Here for Russian Language Version
Translated by Anastasia Andronova


This page is about three acts that toured the vaudeville circuit in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere at different times from the 1900s through the early 1920s. They were related by blood and marriage, as Theodor Kremka married Anne Heimericht of the Salvano Family, Salvano being the act's stage name.

This page came forth from research and data collected during the writing of A Postcard's Story: One Postcard, Two Destinations, Three Continents,
Six People, and One Hundred and Two Years
, the tale of the above postcard, which was mailed in 1910 from Ca
mden, New Jersey to Sydney, Australia. From Sidney it was forwarded to Berlin, Germany where it laid unclaimed in the post office until the spring of 1945, when a young Russian soldier found it and took it home as a souvenir. His granddaughter, Anastasia Andronova, found it as a young girl about 25 years ago and began a quest to find out whe sent it, who was supposed to get it, and what the postcard said. Happily enough, late in 2012, all the pieces came together, and the postcard's story is known.

The card was sent by Theodor Kremka, who with his brother Anton, made up the Krempka Brothers, whose act consisted of feats of great acrobatic skill interspersed with comedy. The brothers had been trained by and toured with their uncle Josef, who, under the stage name Josef Kremo, founded the Kremo family of acrobats. The Kremos, led by Josef and his wife Franziska and later by his sons and at least one grandson, remained in show business for many decades, and at least one great-grandson, Kris Kremo, is famous in Europe as a juggler.

Theodor sent the postcard from Camden, New Jersey to his cousin, Elvira "Ella" Kremo, who was then on tour with her family in Sydney. The Kremos had left Australia by the time it got there, and it did not reach them in Berlin.

Anastasia's quest to find out all she could about the postcard included who was sender and who was the intended recipient. By the end of October, 2012 the card had been accurately translated and research had brought a great deal of light as to who Ella was, and the A Postcard's Story: One Postcard, Two Destinations, Three Continents, Six People, and One Hundred and Two Years web-page was posted on the Internet. In December of 2012 John Wember, the great-grandson of Theodor Krempka discovered the web-page. John, his father Paul, and Paul's brother-in-law Ted Schobert have provided further images and information about the Krempka and Salvano acts, so much as to warrant a separate webpage..... and here we are. There are also new images of the Kremo family, which will also be presented here, pending the creation of a seperate page about them.

The Kremka Brothers - The Kremka Sisters - The Salvano Family

The Kremo Family

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The Kremka Brothers


The man we know as Theodor Kremka was born to Alexander Skremka and his wife the former Auguste Mueller on August 10, 1884. He was soon followed by a brother Anton, and sisters Marie (Mignon) and Louise (Lita). Another sibling, Fritzel (Fred) came along later. 

This photo, possibly a wedding photo was taken at the E.W. Mattias studio of  Seifhennersdorf, Germany. Seifhennersdorf is on the border of the present-day Czech Republic.

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Little is known of Alexander Skremka. What is known is that like his brother Joseph, who formed the Kremo Family troop of acrobats, was a circus-style performer, his specialty being that of a tightrope walker. How far above the ground and if he worked without a net is not known. This information comes from the poster depicted at the left, which was printed in 1890. Both of Theodor and his younger brother Anton were born in Russia, which in those times also included much of modern-day Poland, the Baltic states and Finland. 

  Thanks to Anastasia Andronova, the poster has been translated, and its contents are fascinating, to say the least.

Alexander Skremka, and his partner M. Dontsov, put on a show in the town of Stary Oskol, Russia. Stary Oskol is about 200 miles due south of Moscow, and today has grown to be a city of over 220,000 people.

For clarity's sake, the poster will be presented using one font, the text is placed exactly as printed on the poster. Anastasia's notes are in red, my corrections in blue.



Stary Oskol city







Every walk on a tightrope will consist of three changes, according to a new program daily


1st). On Saturday, January 6, Mr. Skremka will walk a tightrope, shackled with chains on his hands and feet.

2nd). Mr. Dontsov will carry a basket on his shoulders through the whole rope, from which he will be releasing doves.

3rd). Mr. Skremka will perform a gymnastic exercise on a hanging pole.



1st). On Sunday Mr. Skremka will perform on a rope like sober and drunk and will dance Kamarinskaya (a Russian folk dance).

2nd). Mr. Dontsov will carry a man on his shoulders through the whole rope

3rd). Mr. Skremka will perform a difficult exercise on a trapeze.




(It means that people may give or not give money at their will, there was not fixed fee for the show)

We have the honor of thanking Stary Oskol’s respectable public that it has not left our performances without attention; also we quite hope that public will honour our last performances with its attendance.

Respectfully yours Dontsov and Skremka

1890 г. January 2 Allowed to print. Stary Oskol’s county police chief Krivtsov Stary Oskol. The printing house of A. Popov


Augusta Skrempa and her children, around the spring of 1892. From left to ro right Marie (Mignon), Theodor,  Louise (Lita), Augusta, and Anton.

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Theodore Kremka's Notebook - June 4, 1906

Geburtstage = Birthdays

The four younger siblings
of Theodor and Anton
were Luise, Marie, Auguste, & Fritzel

Translation of the handwritten text to follow

It seems to mention the following
"Familie Br. Glockner", 
a Bijou theatre in Liepzig, Germany
an address, possibly "Mathildenstrasse 68"
in Dresden, Germany
and an address
"Sternweg 6, Seifhennersdorf" in Germany

Kremo family and their Birthdays

Josef and his wife Franziska "Fanny"
Sylvester, Karl, Elvira "Ella", Karolina "Lina",
Eugenie, Mark, Franziska,
twin sons Victor and Leon
and Emma

Albert is not listed. Siegfried may have been the youngest son, he was born after 1897, which other sources say was the birth year of the youngest Kremo child. Louise, with no birthday, may have been the child whi died young, or possibly the wife of Sylvester or Karl. Sylvie and Otto (Little Otto) appear to be grandchildren, either Sylvester's or Karl's.

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Kremo Family of Acrobats
Copenhagen, Denmark - December 1894

Sylvester Kremo, Karl  Kremo, Elvira "Ella" Kremo, Theodor Kremka, Anton Kremka, Karolina "Lina" Kremo, Eugenie Kremo. The little ones in front are Mark and Franciska Kremo..

Sylvester Kremo, Karl  Kremo, Elvira "Ella" Kremo, Theodor Kremka, Anton Kremka, Karolina "Lina" Kremo, Eugenie Kremo. The little ones in front are Mark and Franciska Kremo.

Photograph by Harald Cohen, Gothersgade 41, Copenhagen, Denmark 

Sylvester Kremo Family of Acrobats
Early 1890s


Theodor Krempka, third on from the right; Anton Krempka, second in from right

Sylvester Kremo
Family of Acrobats
Early 1890s

Ella - Lina
Theodor Kremka
___ - ___ - ___ - Anton Krempka - ___ -___
Sylvester Kremo




By 1903 Theodor and Anton had gone out on their own as The Kremka Brothers, althought the continued to occasionally work with the Kremo family through at least 1910. A publication of Kremo's touring in 1910 shows the then current members of the Kremo's stage show and lists nephews Anton and Theodor as part of the act. 

Click here for more about the Kremo Family and many images of the troop and its members.


During the 1900s and 1910s, the Kremka brothers appeared around the world. It would be be almost impossible to list everywhere the two brothers performed. Only by looking at what correspondence still exists and documents still in possession of the family, as well as on-line newspaper archives and genealogical resources can one get a sense of their travels.

1903- Hamburg, Germany - Received a postcard from

1903- Toured America, possibly as the Kremo Brothers

1906- Toured America - Received postcard in New York in November

1907- England - Bradford Palace Theatre

1908- The brothers were in the United Kingdom in September

1908- U.S.A. - The brothers arrived separately in New York, October 1 and 2

1909- Germany - Liebich's Etablissement, Breslau, Germany

1909- England - The Kremkas sail from London to Sydney, Australia, June 25.

1909- Australia - Tivoli Theatre in Sydney

1909- New Zealand - His Majesty's Theatre in Christchurch

1910- The Kremkas left Australia for England on December 10.

1910- U.S.A. - Postcard mailed from Camden, New Jersey

1911- The brothers were in the United Kingdom in December

1911- The Kremka Brothers arrive in New York aboard the Lusitania, December 15

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Postcard mailed in March of 1903
from the Kremo family in London, England
to the Kremka Brothers in Hamburg, Germany

Elkhart Review
Elkhart, Indiana
July 20, 1903

Island Park Theater
Alba Root
Kilroy & Britton
Everett Sisters
Fanny Frankel

Elkhart Review * Elkhart, Indiana * July 23, 1903

Postcard Mailed to Theodor Kremka
 on November 2, 1906 from Sheffield, England
to New York City, New York, U.S.A.

The card appears to have been sent by his cousin, Karl Kremo, who addressed him as Lieber Pitschke, that is Dear Pitschke, a nickname that Theodore was known by during his time with the Kremos. The carsd is signed "Ritter v. Vanstchke", a bit of a joke, as the "Ritter von" was a title of nobility. "Vanstchske" was Karl's nickname.


Full translation to follow

Postcard Mailed
Eugenie Kremo
to her cousin
Theodor Kremka
November 1906

Card mailed from
Newcastle-onTyne, England
New York City, New York, U.S.A.

Click on Images to Enlarge


Translation to Follow


Postcard mailed to Theodor Kremka at Bradford Palace Theatre
Bradford, England on August 18, 1907
by Elvira "Ella" Kremo from Braunschweig, Germany
Click on Images to enlarge

Translation to follow

Postcard mailed to Theodor Kremka at Liebich's Etablissement, Breslau, Germany (since 1945 Wrocalw, Poland)
on June 9, 1909 by Elvira "Ella" Kremo
Click on Images to enlarge
Translation to follow

The Tivoli Theatre - Castlereagh Street, Sydney, Australia - circa 1909

The Star
Christchurch, New Zealand
November 11, 1909

Harry Rickards
Madam Casselli
Chuhuahua Dogs
Florance and Liliam
Graham and Dent
Marlow Sisters
Walker and Sturm
Rochfort and Hart
J.V. Gibson

While touring the world and crossing the oceans Theodor Kremka, a man with many other talents besides those evidence on stage designed a  "boot fastener" with interlocking teeth and slide patented in London, Munich and Brussels. It is identical to the modern day Zipper patented in the USA ten years later by Mr. Zipper. Unfortunately, in those days a fee had to be sent in to renew patents, and since the boot fastener was never marketed, the renewal was never paid. Click here to read more about the Kremka boot fastener and see the patents and diagrams.

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 Postcard mailed by Theodor Kremka from Camden, New Jersey
on October 6, 1910 to Elvira "Ella" Kremo in Sydney, Australia
then forwarded to Berlin, Germany

The photos below are of Theodor Kremka and as best that I can tell date from the late 1890s through 1910


While crossing the oceans and performing all over the planet, the Kremka Brothers path crossed that of the Salvano Family, a troupe of trick bicyclists from Germany whose name surname was not Salvano at all, but Heimericht. 

Herr Heimericht had a bicycle manufacturing shop. Prospective buyers were taught howw to ride on a training course that he built behind his shop. He also taught his children trick riding. They were quite talented and good enough to form an act. 'The Salvano Family" trick cyclists. Herr Heimericht managed the act and in time they became a headline act.

The Salvano played all over Europe, of spending at least one summer performing at the Lido in Paris, at different venues along the Mediterranean Sea. Perhaps the highlight of the Salvano Family's career was when they were engaged to travel to Russia in order to entertain at the palace for the eighth birthday of the Crown Prince Alexei Nikolaevitch, son of the Czar of Russia Nicholas II. The Salvanos adopted a street child in Alexandria, Egypt, and incorporated him into the act. They had a pet lion and a pet monkey also in the act. Sadly, the Salvano act dissolved when the father died of malaria while on tour in Alexandria, Egypt. 

In the course of these travels, Theodor Kremka met Anna Heimericht. The two performers fell in love and were married by November of 1911. 

Theodor & Anna Kremka

In February of 1913, Anton Kremka left Marseilles, France aboard the S.S. Moldavia, bound for Sydney, Australia via the Suez Canal. Theodor joined him is Egypt at Port Said, possibly taking leave of Anna after the death of her father. Anton and Theodor performed in Australia, while Anna and her siblings went to England by way of Hamburg. After completing their tour the Kremka Brothers returned to England and took up residence there for a time. They appeared at the famous Hippodrome theater in London around this time

Theodor and Anton were back out on tour in September of 1913, making at least two appearances in France, as evidenced by the show bills below.

September 14, 1913
Click on Images To Enlarge
September 19, 1913

Continuing to travel with their gymnastic act, Theodor and Anton Kremka were in Russia in 1914 when war seemed imminent. Not able to return through German, they went east, across Russia on the Trans-Siberian railway to  Vladivostok, then to Japan, Australia, the United States and finally back to  London where Anna Kremka was very happy to see her husband alive. Theodor and Anton in essence had circumnavigated the entire globe, and in less than 80 days. By 1914 rail and steamship travel had progressed to the point where things went somewhat quicker than in Jules Verne's time.

Theodor & Anna Kremka


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Theodor and Anton's widowed mother and young brother Fritz, known as Fred after arriving in America, came to the U.S. in March of 1912. Auguste Kremka soon remarried, to a recent immigrant named Berthold Scheuchel. The Schuechels first settled in Tennessee and later moved to Cleveland, Ohio. 

With the Kremka Brothers' mother and baby brother having already come to America, it was decided that they should to come to America. In August of 1914 Theodore and Anton sailed from Liverpool, England aboard the S.S. New York, arriving in New York on August 26th. Anna Kremka and baby daughter Thea arrived in 1915. A second daughter, Anne, was born in 1916, and a son, Alex, arrived soon afterwards. 

Once in America, the Kremka Brothers went back to work. They worked in vaudeville and toured for a time with the Sells-Floto circus as The Gremka Brothers. In those days, the whole family worked and daughter Anne Kremka Schobert spoke of riding the elephants in the circus parade when she was just a toddler. 

Greater success was to be had on the vaudeville circuit.  Theodor and Anton soon achieved top billing and did very well, appearing from coast-to-coast. When possible, Anna and her children accompanied them. While in Seattle, Washington Anna Kremka finally decided that hotels were not a place to raise a family. The had bought some property in Sunbright, Tennessee, not all that far from where Theodor and Anton's mother lived. Anna moved there with her children while Theodor and Tony continued on the road. This was a bit of a strain on Anna, as Theodor was a handsome and well built man and she did not trust the ladies hanging around vaudeville. Theodor also was something of a gambler as well. Working in vaudeville, he met many names still well known today, and he counted Eddie Cantor and Harry Houdini among his friends.

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Postcard mailed by
Anton Kremka
to his mother
Mrs. Augusta Schuechel
From St. Joseph, Missouri
Cleveland, Ohio
January 31, 1915

Translation to Follow

By the fall of 1918 Theodor and Anna were making their permanent home in Cleveland, Ohio. Anton preferred to live in New York City when the brothers were not performing. Their mother and her husband, Bert Schuechel were still living in Tennessee.

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Draft Cards - September 1918
Theodor Kremka
Anton Kremka
Bert Schuechel

In 1918 and 1920 the Kremka Brothers worked on the Pantages vaudeville circuit. The Kremkas took a number of photographs at the famed Apeda Studio in New York. They next worked for the Shubert Vaudeville organization. The following text is a set of instructions to local theater from the Shubert organization, as to how to advertise and how to stage the Kremka Brothers' performance.

From Shubert Vaudeville Publicity Bureau, 233 W. 45th St., N.Y.C.

                        KREMKA BROS.
                        NOVELTY ECCENTRIC GYMNASTS

                        KREMKA BROS.
                        NOVELTY ECCENTRIC GYMNASTS

Kremka Bros. - STAGE MANAGER

                          2 men - 1 dressing room - Full stage 8 to 9 minutes 

Kremka Bros. - CARPENTER

                          Full Palace or interior

Kremka Bros. - PROPERTY MAN 

                          Big strongtable, 24 in. -- 
                          3 bentwood chairs - carpet - Palms & Pedestals

Kremka Bros. - ELECTRICIAN

                          Full lights up throughout

Kremka Bros.

Description of Act:

KREMKA BROS. Are two wonderfully built young men who stand pre-eminent among gymnasts and who are able to create laughter at will. Kremka Bros present a most intensely interesting and enjoyable program of Athletic feats interspersed with comedy antics

A scene purporting to be a restaurant serves as a background for their exhibition. One of the brothers garbed as a waiter enters to serve the other who is in the guise of a patron. Instead of serving food, however, they offer a most delectable display of hand to hand balancing, spring board gymnastics and other equally sensational and daring feats which cause gasps of astonishment and outbursts of merriment. So well is the comedy element sustained that the brothers have won almost as great a reputation as Laugh makers as they have for their gymnastic ability.

It is a great number of its kind and furnished untold thrills and happy laughter throughout its presentation. Acts of this kind are rare inasmuch as one can seldom find the combination of comedian and perfect gymnast.

The images below are from the Kremka Brothers years on stage in America.

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The following images are of the Kremka family in America off-stage.

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The Kremka Brothers show business career came to an abrupt end early in 1923 when, while performing, they had an accident and Anton fell off Theodor's head, sustaining a neck injury and was unable to perform any more.

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Cleveland Plain Dealer - March 31, 1955

Theodor and Anna and their three children remained in Cleveland, where Theodor worked as a carpenter and later for the Langenau Manufacturing Company, which was also in Cleveland, which produced high quality metal stampings for the cabinet, travel trunk and luggage, and casket industries, as well as hinges, comers and draw bolts. In his later years he was self-employed as a carpenter. He attended the Citizens Bureau school in Cleveland to prepare for becoming an American citizen, and received his diploma on July 4, 1928. He was naturalized some time later. Anton also settled in Cleveland. A merchant, he died from an infection on October 2, 1936, leaving a wife.  

Sadly, young Alex, who had enlisted in the regular Army in July of 1940, was killed in an accident in 1942 while stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. 

Theodor Kremka died of a heart attack in 1955. Anna lived to the age of 96, sharing her life and her adventures with her children and grandchildren.

The Skremka Sisters

The Skremka Sisters, Mignon and Lita, are known to have been active in vaudeville in the U.S.A in late 1900s and early 1910s, and most likely had been performing for years in Europe. In 1914 one of the sisters, working with a male partner, appeared in New Zealand. The also performed as the Karina Sisters and occasionally were billed as the Kremka Sisters. Like their older brothers, they performed as gymnasts. Their act included stunts on the rings, trapeze, and on a revolving ladder.

The New York Dramatic Mirror
November 6, 1909

WAUKEGAN, ILL. - BarrisonTheatre 
(Mabel Barrison, owner; A.A.Frudenfeld, mgr.): Margo's Manikins, Skremka Sisters, Wayne Christy, Shuford Williams, Ferguson, Miller and Ferguson, Musical Goulmans, and Kathleen Rooney singing a ballad written by A.A. Frudenfeld and published by Will Rossiter Oct.25-31, entitled "For Yon," and is making a big hit; very good bill, pleasing big business.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
February 1, 1910

Dallas Morning News
February 10, 1910

Variety - July 23, 1910

Both sisters made the United States their home. Mignon married Frank Montrose. The Montroses and their sons Kurt and Alex lived with Theodore and Anna Kremka in West Park, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio in the late 1910s and early 1920s. Lita married a man named Schneider.


The Salvano Family

At the risk of repeating what has been written previously on this page and on A Postcard's Story, it is time to turn our attention to the Salvano Family, a troupe of trick bicyclists from Germany whose name surname was not Salvano at all, but Heimericht. 

Herr Heimericht had a bicycle manufacturing shop. Prospective buyers were taught howw to ride on a training course that he built behind his shop. He also taught his children trick riding. They were quite talented and good enough to form an act. 'The Salvano Family" trick cyclists. Herr Heimericht managed the act and in time they became a headline act.

The Salvano played all over Europe, of spending at least one summer performing at the Lido in Paris, at different venues along the Mediterranean Sea. Perhaps the highlight of the Salvano Family's career was when they were engaged to travel to Russia in order to entertain at the palace for the eighth birthday of the Crown Prince Alexei Nikolaevitch, son of the Czar of Russia Nicholas II. The Salvanos adopted a street child in Alexandria, Egypt, and incorporated him into the act. They had a pet lion and a pet monkey also in the act. Sadly, the Salvano act dissolved when the father died of malaria while on tour in Alexandria, Egypt. 

In the course of these travels, Theodor Kremka of The Kremka Brothers met Anna Heimericht. The two performers fell in love and were married by November of 1911. 

Anne's grandson, Paul Wember, wrote of the Salvano Family in January of 2013:

Anne lived to be 96 with a strong mind and heart. During her long stays at my home, she entertained us with stories of her travels, The Kremka Brothers history and some of the Kremo family. Grandpa sent picture postcards from the places that he traveled around the globe. When grandma Anne died we found a collection of cards that he sent home and a scrapbook of picture posts that he received. 

Grandma told us of dining in Egypt with the camel herders, and riding a camel to the pyramids. Egypt also brought sad memories in that her father contacted malaria and died while the were traveling Egypt. It was a very difficult trip to return to Germany and inform her mother.

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Anne Salvano

Breslau, October 23, 1911

Postcard sent by Thea Salvano
from Chemnitz, Germany
on November 14, 1911
to Mrs. & Mrs. Theo Kremka,
Apollo Theater, Vienna Austria

Full Translation to Follow

Sisters Reunited

From United Food Service employee newsletter, where Anne Kremka Schobert was employed

Lots of excitement brewing at Ann Schobert's home these days! Ann, from United Food Service cafeteria crew, recently welcomed her aunt Thea here visiting from, Zurich, Switzerland. Reunited with Ann's mother after a 45-year absence, the two sisters are spending happy hours reminiscing about the exciting days when they and their father and brothers made up the internationally famous Salvano Family troupe, exciting trick cyclists. The group, pictured here, includes Ann's mother, on the right, and her aunt Thea, left. The young Arabian boy in the photo was adopted by the Salvano group for the act. Ann's family boasts quite a theatrical background. Her father was a famous acrobatic dancer who performed all over the world, including some of the large American vaudeville houses popular at the turn of the century. In the height of their careers, the Salvano act thrilled audiences all over the continent and gave command performances for royal admirers; King Emanuel of Italy; the family of King Carol of Rumania; and the Crown Prince, son of the Czar of Russia on his eighth birthday. 

The Life of My Great Grandmother Anna Heimwischt
by Suzi Schobert 11/25/1987

Anna Kremka was well into her 90s when her great-granddaughter, Suzi Schobert, taped a number of conversations and compiled the following account of her life. While the accounting of exactly what happened, that is, what Anna experienced and saw as a child growing up and into her early 20s is most certainly quite accurate, the passing of 70 to 80 years may have clouded some dates. In assembling this webpage, and the accounts of the Kremkas, Skremkas, Salvanos, and Kremos I have checked all currently available on-line records as well as checking dates on pictures and news clippings in order to establish an accurate time line, which accounts for any discrepancies between what you have read above and the following text.


When I began to interview my great grandmother, I never dreamed of the fascinating stories she was about to tell me of her past life. Not only was her family famous all over the world, but she was to marry a man who was also famous. She lived a life of fame, danger, and adventure before she came to the United States, and I felt extremely fortunate to be the one person in our family who has recorded the memories of my great-grandmother's fascinating life.

Her life began in a tiny town called Trier in Germany. She was born in 1892. The town was an extremely old and beautiful place that was inhabited thousands of years before Rome was built. Anna Heimericht was her name. She was the daughter of Richard Heimericht and Anna Webber. She had four brothers and sisters. 

Anna's father was a master mechanic and a competitive cyclist; her mother was a housewife. Anna's father watched his children grow, and noticed they were talented children who were capable of learning acrobatic cycling tricks. He worked with the children, teaching them an act. Soon, actors who were clients of Mr. Heimericht told him to let the children perform on the stage so he could close his shop. The first acts were benefits performed in Trier. Later, the family hired an agent and began traveling. Because of the German Labor laws, the children were not allowed to perform without a work permit, which they could not get until they were 14 years old. At this point, only Anna's older sister was 14, the other children were too young to get work permits. 

The first show on their tour was to take place in Genoa, Italy. Anna vividly recalled the night before their departure when her mother braided Anna's long blond hair for the next performance. She remembers how her mother cried when they left.

The trip to Genoa was the beginning of their tour in Italy which began in 1904. My great grandmother told me about the sight that amazed her and her brothers and sisters most about Genoa, the huge oranges. They had never seen orange trees before, and they always thought that oranges came from boxes. They wrapped some of the oranges up in cotton, and sent them home to their mother in Trier. My grandmother was 12 years old at the time. She told me about the narrow streets, and the high buildings with clothes lines crisscrossing between the high buildings. She also described the tuna fish which were in her words, "as big as cows."

The troupe became known as the Salvano Familie, and signed contracts to perform in the different cities. The contracts for each city lasted one month. In 1910, the troupe went to Sicily. My grandmother told me of how they saw Haley’s Cornet. It was 5:00 in the morning when the troupe rode to the beach in a horse and buggy. She described the comet as a big white ball, like a star. It dragged behind it a long white tail. She said that the tail looked like a train that followed the ball, then disappeared into the dark night. She also told me about the tangerines in Palermo. Tangerines were rare in Germany, so they were surprised to learn that they only cost 1 cent each. They thought it was funny that the children of Palermo would play with the tangerines as if they were marbles since they were so inexpensive.

The troupe also had a contract in Naples. Italy. The Salvanos rented a house from a landlady who owned a dress studio for stage performers. She employed four girls, who sewed the dresses by hand. My grandmother found it interesting that the girls ate bread for lunch that was like a big bagel. They would soak the bread in water, and put oil and tomato sauce on it. She told me that children often asked their mothers to give them a piece of this bread - they would say "gimme a pieca”. This bread later became what we know as pizza. Back then, this was all the poor people had to eat, so my grandmother was surprised that pizza became "such a big deal".

She told me about the tour to Cairo, Egypt when she and her sister got sick on the boat on the way to Cairo. My grandmother and her older sister always got seasick when they traveled on the ocean. Their father told them to make up their minds that they would not get sick, and keep busy, then they would not get sick. They tried reading, and embroidery to keep their minds occupied, and they sat on the sunny deck of the boat in expectations of a pleasant trip. But as soon as the boat would leave the harbor, they both would race to their cabin, where they got sick. They ended up lying in bed for five days, sucking on lemons to help them feel better.

The troupe was well received in Cairo. There they were a big success. The wife of the manager where they stayed gave my grandmother a monkey to travel with them. It stayed with them for several years before it died in Paris. Also, while in Cairo, they went to visit the pyramids. They rode donkeys and camels to the pyramids. Her brothers took the camels, and she and her sister took donkeys so they would get motion sickness. They rode to the pyramids dressed in their sailor costumes, and the girls had their hair up in curlers so that they would be ready for the next show. 

The camels and donkeys moved very slowly on the way out to the pyramids, but they ran all the way back to the station on the way back. My grandmother remembers her hat flying off of her head as her donkey run back to the stables. She also described a theater across from where they stayed. The theatre had no roof, and they could see belly dancers dancing on the stage. She said it was rare to see women showing skin them, so they were surprised to see the dancers. She told me that even when people swam, they covered up with pantaloons, stockings, and shoes. At the bottom of the building they stayed in, there was a cafe. One day, when the troupe was eating lunch at the cafe, someone came by the table with a big ape. The ape attacked my grandmother, and ripped the sleeve off her silk dress. To this day, she still does not know why the ape attacked her.

They saw an interesting funeral while they were in Cairo. The funeral procession was coming from the train depot. The casket was being carried by some people and it was followed by some paid mourners, who were women who tore their clothing as they walked behind the casket. They also saw a wedding where a parade of donkeys each with a gift on their backs for the bride. They also carried mirrors. The bride was on the back of a camel, and she sat in a hut with curtains. The groom walked behind the bride's camel, and he was not supposed to see the bride before the ceremony. My grandmother saw the bride peaking out of the curtain to look at her husband to be.

The second time the troupe went to Sicily, my grandmother told me about the giant lobsters they ate. They went to eat lunch at an open cafe, and their father picked out a huge lobster for them. The claw weighted 5 pounds. They wrapped up the claw and sent it home to their mother as a souvenir. They ate a huge lobster meal, and got on the boat to go to the next city. My grandmother and her sister went to read in the library so that they would not get sick. They tried and tried not to get sick. An army Lieutenant came to the library, and got sick, that was when both my grandmother and her sister got sick. She said that it was an awful sight.

In Madrid, the troupe got tickets to see a bullfight. They refused to go because they thought Anna and her sister would get sick. The next stop in Spain was Barcelona. In the show here, there was a lion trainer who had 21 lions. The lions had babies, and the keepers had to keep the babies away from the male lions, because they kept chewing the heads off of the babies. One day, when my grandmother was in her dressing room, getting prepared for the next show, she heard a baby lion crying. She asked the trainer why the lion was crying, and he explained that its mother could not feed it. The baby needed to be bottle fed, but no one had time to feed it. My grandmother volunteered to feed, and take care of it while they were in town. She even let him sleep with her, and would wrap him up in a blanket. One weekend, the troupe had to leave town to do another show. She left the lion with a woman trainer. When she returned, the lady said the lion was dead. The lady told her that the lion fell out of bed and died. My grandmother did not believe, and still does not know what really happened to the lion.

In Algeria, the family stayed in Algiers. When they got there, they saw many young Algerian shoeshine boys who went around asking, "Shoeshine Monsieur?" Mr. Heimericht liked colored children, and took a liking to one young shoeshine boy in particular. The family gave him food, but he was not allowed in their room. Mr. Heimericht bribed the manager to let the boy stay in their room. The boy would sit on the floor and eat, refusing to sit on the furniture. One day, their father decided to adopt him. They made arrangements with the manager and the boy's mother to adopt him. They finally adopted him and taught him a part in the cycling act. His hair was long on top, and he covered it with a fez as part of his Muslim religion. When they adopted him, his mother said that they must promise never to cut his hair. As a member of the act, however, they would have to cut his hair. When he had just been adopted, their father dressed him up in an embroidered jacket, a fez, and new shoes. The two of them walked down the main street so all of his friends could see him. All of the other shoeshine boys ran to Mr. Heimericht as if he would adopt them too. The boy would take off his new shoes because he felt he should not ruin them. The boy's name was Lavwari. In the act, he was to be a girl. He was dressed in a white lace dress. Lavwari stayed with the act for many years. Later, after the act broke up, Lavwari started a band in Russia. That was the last my grandmother knew of her adopted brother.

In Bucharest, Rumania, the troupe received medals for performing for the crown prince of Rumania. At that time the act was part of the circus, and they held special shows for the royal family. These were closed circus performances where the circus closed for the public. The Heimericht children did not value the medals they got. They just accepted the medals, and sent them home to their mother.

The troupe also received medals for their performance for the crown prince of Russia, Prince Alexei Romanov. They performed for the prince on his eighth birthday [August 12, 1912- PMC], before the family was murdered. This day was the day Alexei was given the honor, Commander of the Boy Scouts. Long tables were covered with white cloths, which were arranged in a star shape. A drink and a gift were set at each child's place. The boys were not allowed to touch the gifts until after the show. The performance took place in an open-air theater. The prince came out with escorts and only stayed for the Salvano's act which was a command performance.

In Monaco, Monte Carlo, the troupe acquired a rare hairless Chinese dog that they named Follett. A lady with the elephant act gave the dog to the children because she was sick and the lady could not care for her. The children said they would care for Follett. The dog had a chocolate covered body with cream colored spots. She had no hair except for coarse hair on the top of her head and on the end of her tail. In the elephant act, Follett's job was to ride on top of the elephant's head. When Follett became part of the Heimericht family, she traveled in the baggage compartment of the train. When the troupe traveled to Monte Carlo, they took Follett to the beach. They were staying at a resort there, and on the beach they met another woman who was staying at the same resort. She was a Marquis. She came up to the children, and told them that she once had the same kind of dog. She asked if she could buy the dog, but the children said no. She gave them her room number in case they changed their minds. They went back to their room and told their father about the incident. Their father made them take the dog to the lady right away. He said that it was getting too expensive to pay for the dog's traveling expenses. They sold Follett to the rich Marquis for 200 franks. When they went to visit the dog a week later, Follett sat in her silk bed and did not even look at the children. The children were satisfied that Follett had a good home, but they were heartbroken that she ignored them after they loved her so much. 

I asked my grandmother what they did about their education. She said that they had private tutors up to the age of 14. She said that school was not hard. The children learned their lessons and sent their tests to Germany to be graded. If they had wanted to continue their educations beyond the age of 14, they would have to pay extra.

When the troupe returned to Bucharest, they saw a rather strange sight. It was a cold winter, so cold that the birds froze in mid air. They saw a frozen river where the King and Queen sat in a heated booth across the river. There was a hole in the ice of the river, and the King threw a key in the hole. A man dived in the river, and carne up with the key. There were people with blankets next to the hole to keep the man warm. They took him straight to the hospital. She told me that this was a ceremony that took place every year. Anna and her siblings were not interested in sightseeing or finding out what the significance of these different occurrences were. Instead, they were interested in giving a good performance and going on to the next city. Later, she was sorry that she did not pay attention to these things.

Another interesting story that my grandmother told me was about a chameleon that her brother Lavwari had. Lavwari kept flies for the chameleon in a matchbox to feed him. When they traveled to Italy, they took the chameleon with them. They stayed in a building that was built in the shape of a square. The building had a balcony that connected with the other balconies. The balconies were covered with plants, and the children would let the chameleon loose in the daytime to run through the plants. At night, he would come back and get into his cage.

In 1911, Anna became engaged. The man she became engaged to [Theodor Kremka of The Kremka Brothers- PMC] was also a stage performer. He was an acrobat, who with his partner, toured all over the world. He was friends with such great performers as Harry Houdini, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keeton, and Charlie Chaplin. He even loaned money to Chaplin so he could gamble. When they decided to get married, it was a European custom for the boy to ask permission of the bride's parents. At this time, Anna's father was dead, and their mother had begun to travel with them. Her fiancé asked permission to marry Anna, and he was told that they must first be engaged for two years. She was not allowed to be married until she turned 21. The Salvano troupe was in Denmark, and Anna's fiancé was in Austria the day before they were to get married. They were married in Saxony, Germany. Anna's wedding dress was made without her. She had a seamstress tailor it to fit her when she arrived for the wedding. After the wedding, Anna traveled with her new husband. Their first trip was to Paris where they saw a lot of military parades near the main avenue. It was the beginning of World War I, but they had no idea what was going on. They immediately went to Kiev, Russia to continue the tour. When they found out that war had broken out, they went to the depot to take a train to Germany. The depot was full of soldiers. They were traveling with distant relatives at the time. When they arrived at the depot, they found out that a train was leaving for Warsaw, and it was to be the last train to leave the country. Everyone had to leave all of their luggage behind. My grandmother and her husband and relatives were herded onto the train like cattle. Everyone was packed on, and the couple was separated. Their relatives refused to go, and ended up in Siberia for  seven years. They were let off in Warsaw, where my grandmother found her husband and brother-in-law. They were not close enough to the German border, so they ended up spending the night with a Polish woman whose son smuggled them to the border in a horse and buggy. They finally reached the bridge that crossed the Polish-German border, and they were escorted across by German soldiers. When my grandmother finally reached German soil, she fell on the ground and cried because they were finally safe.

They went to Berlin for a short time, then her husband went to England to continue his tour, and she went to Saxony to stay with her mother and to give birth to her first child. After a while, when she did not hear from her husband, my grandmother was afraid he may have been killed. She called the Red Cross to find out if he was alright. They found him, and reported that he was fine, and that he had gone to America. The news of her husband arrived on the day their daughter was born.

In 1915, Anna came to America on the last ship from Germany. She was only allowed to bring her baby and herself. Again she had to leave all possessions behind. She was to meet her sister-in-law who was a member of the Montrose act in New York. She stayed with them until her husband told her to go to his mother's house in Cleveland until he could get there. When the porter on the train told her they had arrived in Cleveland, she did not believe him. Here they were in a small cowtown that she knew could not be downtown Cleveland. The porter assured her that they were at the main Cleveland depot and sure enough, there was her mother-in-law to meet her.

Once her husband met her in Cleveland, they left to travel. The circus was the Sells-Floto Circus. Anna hated traveling with the circus, where they ate slept and lived in small trailers. While in the circus, she had to work to pay for her keep. My grandmother ended up riding a horse in the parade which was the opening for the circus.

After a short time of working for the circus, her husband's brother fell and seriously hurt himself. After doing the Keith tour, and the Shubert theater tour twice, the act decided to retire. The year the act retired was 1923, this was also the year my grandmother had her third child, a son.

When I asked my grandmother what ever happened to the act when she got married, she said that her brothers and sister kept the act until some of them got married. Her older sister got married, then one of her brothers got married. Her brother married a circus performer. He, his new wife and her sister then kept up the act. Two of her brothers were killed when they became soldiers at the end of the war, and Lavwari went to Russia where he started a band.

The Kremo Family

About the Kremo Family

A good article concerning the Kremo family was found on a website about the town of Groß Koris, Germany. The web page and article are in German, however. I used a translation program and did what I could to get it into English. 

The Villa Kremo in Groß Koris, Germany - Postcard mailed 1906

The father of the family, Josef Kremo (1854-1917), left home at the age of ten years to go into variety and the circus. At the age of eleven he began training with Johann Karl Schaffer, in Vienna, Austria. He lived with Schäffer and his family during the entire apprenticeship. Schaffer treated Josef Kremo as his own son. In 1873 he left the Schaffer family on good terms. 

In the following years he worked in various ways as an artist. In 1880 he married Franziska Allinger (1858 to 1940), a famous equestrian. The marriage took the Kremos to great heights in the show business world. The Kremos had thirteen children in the years between 1881 and 1897. The children icluded, in order of birth, Sylvester, Karl, Elvira "Ella", Karolina "Lina", Eugenie, Mark, Franziska, twins Victor and Leon, Siegfried, one of whom died while very young. The children were at an early stage made familiar with the show business life. It is thought that by the age of four the Kremo children were already accomplished acrobats, doing cartwheels, dancing, hand and headstands, as well as stilt walking. As their artistic skills developed, they were included in the programs. It is therefore not surprising that ten of the twelve Kremo children pursued  careers as a performing artists. By 1894, the Kremotruppe Ikarischen (Kremo Icarists) were on tour with an act in which one acrobat lay on his back while juggling their partner through the air. One of the sons was able to do a dangerous triple jump from the seat of the foot. 

Their number "Stilt walking on the skyline" was a favorite in the circus story of the Kremo family. Josef Kremo also worked "high in the air" as a tightrope and trapeze, and he was also a versatile tumbler and contortionist. Josef Kremo died on December 26, 1917 in Groß Köris, after having been confined to a wheelchair for a few years due to illness. The Familientruppe Kremos dissolved in 1915.

Several of the Kremo children thereafter started their own artistic careers. Karolina Kremo (1885-1945), was first known with the presentation "Kremolina and Partner". She worked with her brothers Franz and Otto Kremo in of the number "La Kremolina and Darras" and continued the tradition of the brothers and sisters with the Darras Tanzduo "Kremolina & Darras". In 1926 Otto married Karolina Kremo Muller-Darras . They lived together at the "Villa Linerl" (now Patzerstrasse 24). The wrought-iron entrance gate to this Villa today still bears the inscription "Kremolina & Darras". 

Elvira Kremo (1884-1973) began before the First World War to work as a dancer. Her debut was in 1901 in Graz. In her act she completed the deadly jump on the rope, a jump that only she performed at the time. She married an artistic photographer, Johann Hötzl. Elvira resided up to the time of her death on the Karbuschsee in Groß Köris.. 

Currently the last representative of the Kremo-Artisten is Kris Kremo. He is a great-grandson of Josef Kremo and son of the famous juggler Bela Kremo. Kris Kremo is married with the Russian ring acrobat Yelena Larkina. He is today one of the most famous jugglers of the world and is known as "King of the Jugglers" and "Gentleman-Jongleur". His trademark is three balls, three hats, and cigar boxes, a virtuoso which he, with great speed, juggles in diverse variations. Kris Kremo was in 1994 in Germany where he visited the home of his ancestors and has reports and anecdotes of people and visited with his relatives still in Groß Köris.

continued below 

Kremo Family of Acrobats
Copenhagen, Denmark - December 1894

Sylvester Kremo, Karl  Kremo, Elvira "Ella" Kremo, Theodor Kremka, Anton Kremka, Karolina "Lina" Kremo, Eugenie Kremo. The little ones in front are Mark and Franciska Kremo..

Sylvester Kremo, Karl  Kremo, Elvira "Ella" Kremo, Theodor Kremka, Anton Kremka, Karolina "Lina" Kremo, Eugenie Kremo. The little ones in front are Mark and Franciska Kremo.

Photograph by Harald Cohen, Gothersgade 41, Copenhagen, Denmark 

Kremo Family of Acrobats
Early 1890s


Theodor Krempka, third on from the right; Anton Krempka, second in from right

Family of Acrobats
Early 1890s

Ella - Lina
Theodor Kremka
___ - ___ - ___ - Anton Krempka - ___ -___
Sylvester Kremo


Elvira "Ella" Kremo

Eugenie Kremo

The Kremo Troupe in 1913. Second row, left to right: Viktor, Karl, Albert, Sylvester, Emma, Léon, Mark; First row, left to right: Elvira, Eugénie, Franziska. 
Le Cirque dans l'Univers Archive.

The Kremo's were widely known in their trade as specialists in the "Risley Act", also referred to as icarists, where one acrobat juggles another acrobat with his feet.

The Kremos produced two generations of remarkable icarists. The original Kremo troupe was created c.1880 by Josef Kremo (1854-1917— real name: Kremka, of Czech origins), with at least two of his older sons, Sylvester and Karl. Josef Kremo had been trained by the Schäffers, an Austrian family of acrobats and the most prominent Risley act of the late 19th century.

Josef and his wife, Austrian-Hungarian equestrienne Franzisca Allinger (1858-1940), had thirteen children, twelve of whom eventually participated in the family's Risley act; at least three of them, Anton, Franziska, and Viktor, could perform a triple somersault on the feet of their father. Sylvester, Josef's eldest son (1881-1962), and Karl, his younger brother (1882-1958), continued the family tradition, each with his own troupe.

The Sylvester Kremo Family troupe consisted of Sylvester and his daughters, Sylvia and Selna. More important, the Karl Kremo Family consisted of Karl, his brother Mark (1888-1945), his wife Margrit (1891-1923—born Hanus in Hungary), and their children, Bellona, Béla, Bianca, and Bert, along with occasional partners. The Karl Kremo Family brilliantly continued the Kremo tradition, performing in Europe's leading circuses and variety theaters until the 1930s. One of Karl's sons, Béla Kremo, later became a world-famous juggler, as did Béla's son, Kris Kremo.

When Theodor mailed the postcard in 1910, the Kremo troupe 

The Kremo Troupe c.1915. Standing, from Left to right: Emma, Léon, Sylvester, Karl, Mark, Elvira; Seated, left to right: Eugénie, Emma, Viktor, Albert.

The Kremo Family
by Marthe and Juliette Vesque, gouache on paper
L. & R. Dauven collection, Paris.

Karl Kremo Truppe, Icarists

Karl Kremo Truppe, Icarists

Australian Risley acrobats,
(Video made in the U.S.A., c.1955).

The Seven Ashtons, Australian 'Risley' acrobats are shown in a US television program of the 1950s, introduced by the famous jazz clarinetist, Jimmy Dorsey.

Victor Kremo Truppe, Icarists

Interview with Kris Kremo, 2007

During the Big Apple Circus performances in October of 2007, Dominique Jando interviewed Kris Kremo.

Click Here for Russian Language Version
Translated by Anastasia Andronova

The Kremka Brothers, The Kremka Sisters, and The Salvano Family

Who Invented the Zipper