Following WWII,  Swiss trapese artist Eugene Lambart and his wife Fritzi formed an act with a young Norwegian strongman, Arne Selfors.  They looked about for an acrobat to complete their new show and came across two young sisters in Berne. The girls’  father, Mr Broenimann  was a labourer,  but  had been training his daughters in gymnastics  since they were five or six. Ericka, then seventeen, was a hand-balancer. Her younger sister Alice, fifteen, was a talented contortionist and ice skater.   It was Alice  the Lambarts  were particularly interested in, but her father insisted his daughters  should stay together.  He signed a five year contract with the Lambarts on their behalf.

The troupe, known as The Swiss Stars,  toured the world, and Alice was soon recognized as the star.  She was a petite, dark haired beauty, just 4′ 8″ tall.  She explained that her father had worried about her tiny size when she was a child and  bought a trapeze, hoping the exercise  might  promote a growth spurt.

Alice Broenimann

Oh so easy!

Alice Broenimann

Alice the amazing acrobat performs with strong-man Arne.

Alice Broeniman

Displaying her contortionist skills.

However,  life in show business was not as glamourous as a starry eyed teenager might have imagined. The Lambarts were hard task masters, aware that constant  practice and absolute  concentration was necessary to avoid serious accidents.  They had suffered many broken bones themselves over the years.  Alice did not take correction or criticism easily, and the relationship with her guardians/employers soured. The sisters were also strictly chaperoned.

In July 1949 the troupe arrived in Australia, performing in Melbourne  then  moving on to Sydney. They were under contract to the Tivoli Theatre Company. In the photo below, Alice flies from the hands of Eugene Lambart and her sister Ericka into the arms of  Arne Selfors.  Fritzi Lambart is the woman in the middle of the stage.

The Swiss Stars

The Swiss Stars on stage


Tivoli Theatre Sydney

New Tivoli Theatre in Sydney’s  Castlereagh Street.

The troupe were staying  at the Civic Hotel.

Civic Hotel Sydney

The Art Deco Civic Hotel

After the show on Saturday, October 29, there was a huge row between Eugene Lambart and Alice.  The young acrobat went back to her hotel room in a very distressed state. On Sunday morning her sister discovered she was missing.  Ericka said Alice only had about £20 to her name. German was the girls’ native language and Alice knew very little English.


The police were notified, and a search was organized.  Without their star turn, the troupe’s performances had to be cancelled.

Alice Broenimann

Has anyone seen this young girl?

Several days later came the startling news that Alice was working as a waitress at Glenella  Guesthouse, in the Blue Mountains village of Blackheath.

Mrs Lambert, wife of the leader of the troupe, was furious and told reporters . ‘Alice is ungrateful. She came from a very poor family. She and her sister (Erica, 20, still with the act) were weak and had no clothes when they joined us. We have lost a whole year of contracts throughout the world  – all because of that kid.

Monsieur Lambart is prepared to release Alice from  the remaining two years of her contract. But she must come back to us and we will send her home to Switzerland. We are responsible for her. Monsieur Lambart will seek legal aid in having her brought back. I could understand if Alice had taken a job in an office, but a kitchen maid…poof!‘ Asked what was Alice’s salary Madam Lambart said, ‘More than she gets at Blackheath!’

Glenella Guesthouse

Glenella Guesthouse






















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