Great Photos: Le Mariage des Diables Blancs, May 22 1954

Jean Dieuzaide recorded the wedding sitting on the shoulders of the bride's father who was stood on a wire high above the crowd

toulouse wedding


On May 22 1954, tightrope walkers Berthy Omankowsky and Roger Decugis married on a rope stretched high above the Place du Capitole in Toulouse, France. The wedding of two members of the Franco-Czechoslovakian (Diables Blancs) White Devils Company was overseen by Father Robert Simon, nicknamed the Flying Priest on account of his passion for diving for charity from heights of over 40 metres.



Photographer Jean Dieuzaide recorded the event on his Rolleiflex whilst sat on the shoulders of the bride’s father, Rudolf Omankowski, who was also balancing on a wire. The son of a tightrope walker, Omankowski had founded of the White Devils troupe in which his three children and their spouses were part.

It was Omankowski who mentored his fellow funambule Philippe Petit for his illegal walk between the two towers of the New York’s World Trade Center on a wire suspended above the void in 1974.


Philippe Petit

Philippe Petit walks between the Twin Tower in 1974

Decades later, Fred Marie made a film that celebrates Jean Dieuzaide and his famous photo. The 26-minute film ends with a new performance of the wedding.




Via: Toulouse Town Hall, Municipal Archives.

Would you like to support Flashbak?

Please consider making a donation to our site. We don't want to rely on ads to bring you the best of visual culture. You can also support us by signing up to our Mailing List. And you can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For great art and culture delivered to your door, visit our shop.