The Brothers Kermond: Pioneers In Ice Acrobatics

Australian brothers Eric 'Tibby' and Norman Kermond hailed from Sydney, Australia. They came from an old circus family and developed a comedic acrobatic act that took The Tivoli Circuit by storm. They first translated their performance to the ice in Sydney in the forties with zero practice, bringing down the house with their trademark 'drunk act'. Eric later laughed, "Those people thought I was floundering around like that on purpose. I wasn't. I couldn't stand up on the blinkin' skates."

Eric and Norman left the Tivoli Circuit after they didn't receive a pay rise that had been promised to them. They headed for England, where a man approached them after a show and again suggested they perform their acrobatic act on skates. They lied and said, "Oh yeah, we've done it many, many times" and then headed to the Richmond Ice Rink, where they worked to 'properly' translate their act to the ice. After appearing in Tom Arnold's ice pantomime "Babes In The Woods", they returned to Australia to perform in the show "Ice Parade" at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne, billed as "The World's Greatest Vaudeville-On-Ice Show". They later travelled with a troupe to sunny Spain, where their act was a smash hit. However, after one show Eric decided to give bullfighting a try. He ended up getting tossed around by the bull and sustaining some pretty serious injuries but later joked, "I'm still around. The bull ain't." When they weren't moonlighting as bullfighters, Eric and Norman enjoyed water skiing, bowling and flying planes.

Eric and Norman actually first performed their acrobatic act in America in Skating Vanities, a roller skating tour. They signed with Shipstad and Johnson's Ice Follies in 1955. Touring as ice acrobats for over ten years alongside the likes of Donald Jackson, Richard Dwyer, Mr. Frick (Werner Groebli) and Ina Bauer, they became bona fide ice stars and were actually pioneers of adding the backflip to professional performances. On May 2, 1956, the "Spokane Chronicle" noted, "Norm holds a record for backwards somersaults on ice skates, 16."

Photo courtesy Ingrid Hunnewell

However, Eric and Norman's 'drunk act' sometimes got them in trouble. On January 18, 1965, "The Miami News" reported, "At the 'Ice Follies' opening, two off-duty Shore Patrol cops almost ruined the Kermond Bros. act, who start out from the audience and pretend to annoy patrons. Since the brothers were dressed as Navy men, the patrol cops thought it was their duty to intercede - but ushers stopped them in time."

Long after their performing days ended, the unlikely skating stars remained involved in the sport. Eric and Norman managed the Burlingame Ice Rink in California together and Norman's daughter Sharon actually followed in his footsteps, touring with Ice Follies and coaching in California. Sadly, Norman passed away on January 5, 2016 at the age of ninety five. Though their names may not be as remembered as some, this pioneering team of ice acrobats from down under have a unique place in skating's rich and colourful history.  

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":