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Amazing Woman of the Suncoast: Nina Rapczynski

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Nina Rapczynski has had an amazing career with Ringling Brothers Circus. The show producer talked her into doing this trick with an elephant.

"We want you to lay down, she's going to put her foot on your face."

She had a bond with the elephant, so together they did the trick.

"She was gentle, she picked up her foot gently and she just followed you."

But the producer wanted more.

"I want her to lay down on you and she did lay down on me. I grabbed her harness and she got up and she pulled me up and that was the trick."

Nina also performed with horses and she was one of four girls from a spinning ring. Nina was born into a family of board acrobats in Berlin in 1932. She started performing on stage on the trampoline when she was nine years-old. The war shut down the circus and scattered her family. Her mother had married the Great Unus, a world famous circus star who charmed even Hitler by standing on one finger.

John Ringling discovered the family in Spain and brought them to America . They lived in Sarasota and Nina performed for many years. After she quit, she met a handsome young man and fell in love.

"We had a beautiful wedding and I had the most beautiful three children."

She now has grandchildren and her performing days are far behind her. But she still misses her beloved elephant.

"The elephant, I still love he is still my heart."