Dick Franco - World Champion Juggler
Amazing World Champion Juggling Skills mixed with comedy.
Starting with none of the traditional advantages, he capitalized instead on determination and business skill to climb to the top of the entertainment mountain.
Using common sense, business sense and juggling skill, Dick Franco has become one of the most successful solo jugglers in the world. And unlike many others, Franco had no logical springboard to the art. His family practiced business in Youngstown, Ohio, not circus. Franco didn't even learn to juggle until 1970 at age 20.
But he seems to have sensed the calling from the moment he discovered it, and was able to seek out and befriend people who could help him further his career. The first was Bobby May, who lived in retirement not far away in Akron, Ohio. Franco sought him out and visited regularly. May encouraged Franco to follow his instincts, helped him put together an act, and taught him about the business of juggling.
Franco's early career as a trucking dispatcher gave him a good education in management and negotiation. He was able to follow the leads he got from May and others like Paul Bachman and El Gran Picasso to work his way into major contracts with groups like the Harlem Globetrotters and EMI, the European agency that managed the Beatles. In the last nine years since he left the Globetrotters, Franco has played cruise ships and hotel variety shows all over the world, won two "World Championship" titles competing against the likes of Rudy Schweitzer and Kris Kremo, and won a Silver Clown at the Monte Carlo Circus Festival.
His knowledge of juggling history runs as deep as his business acumen. His home in Venice, Fla., is a virtual juggling museum. A confirmed packrat, he still has the first taped plywood hoops and drilled-out wooden Indian clubs that he and his early partner, Joe Sullivan, used in 1970.
Eager to seek out responsibility and leadership, he volunteered to host the IJA's 1975 convention in Youngstown when he attended his first convention in 1974 in Sarasota, Fla. The 40 or so jugglers in Sarasota also elected him as their president. He used his studies in advertising to actively promote the 1975 convention, and turned it into a huge success. It attracted more than 300 jugglers, national media and marked the beginning of new era of large turnouts for the IJA.
Franco intends to build on his success thus far to make a long lifetime of juggling. He says that demands that his act change to suit the times, and in America that means comedy. Since he has added chain saw juggling and a number of non-juggling sight gags to his repetoire of technical skills. Though he can do five ping-pong balls with no hands from his mouth, he gets more audience response with a silly trick using three.