Extreme Humans

Philippe Petit – Man On Wire

Last Updated on October 20, 2020 by Darshan Modi

Philippe Petit
Philippe Petit


Philippe Petit has performed death defying high wire walks, including crossing between the Twin Towers in New York in 1974.


Philippe PetitPhilippe Petit was born on 13 August 1949 in Siene-et-Marne in France.

Early Life

Philippe Petit started wire-walking from the age of 16 without much support from his family. His Farther was an Army pilot and by the age of 18 he had been expelled from five different schools. In June 1971, Philippe installed a cable between the towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and did a walk across the wire while juggling balls.

About Philippe Petit

As soon as Philippe Petit heard about the construction of the twin towers, he was determined that one day he was going to walk between them. He spent more time wondering how to install a cable without permission across the towers than he spent actually practicing to walk, in fact in the 8 months leading up to the walk he only practiced once.
On 7 August 1974, the night of the walk, Philippe and his friends who were assisting him install the cable arrived three hours later than they had planned and when he started the walk he realised they had not done a very good job of installing the wire, but he decided he had come this far and that is was safe enough.
On that day Philippe crossed the wire eight time’s ( 45 Minutes) to the sound of the cheering crowd below. The police were threatening that they were going to get a helicopter to get him off the wire and that he was trespassing – which actually encouraged Philippe to make more crossings, thinking if it was going to be his last act ever, he would make it a great one. As he handed himself over to police, it started to rain. Pictures of Philippe were on the front pages on newspapers across the world the next day as Philippe turned 25.
Since his famous Twin Towers walk, he has done dozens of high-wire performances and been involved in many documentaries and movies. He has only fallen once, while performing for the Ringling Brothers Circus where he broke several ribs. He has written eight books and has built a barn single-handedly in the Catskill mountains. He lives in New York with his partner Kathy O’ Donnell and their daughter Cordia Gypsy.

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Genetic Or Learned

Philippe Petit must have been born with no sense of fear for him to be able to perform the stunts he has, however walking on high-wire is a learned skill.

Philippe Petit Youtube Videos

Featured In

  • Man on Wire (2008)
  • The Walk (2015)
  • High Wire (2009)
  • The Peter Austin Noto Show (2017)
  • One Armed Man (2014)
  • Dans l’ombre (2004)
  • Mondo (1995)
  • Star Talk (2016)
  • First Steps: Learning to walk the wire (2016)
  • CBS This Morning (2015)
  • Book Case TV (2013)
  • Charlie Rose (1999-2013)
  • 50 Documentaries to see before you die (2011)
  • Che tempo Che fa (2009)
  • the 81st Annual Academy Awards (2009)
  • the Colbert Report (2009)
  • American Experience (2003)
  • Lying for a living (2002)
  • Late Show with David Letterman (2002)
  • National Geographic Explorer (1993)
  • Filmstunde (1991)
  • The Mike Douglas Show (1974)
  • Concert in The Sky (1983)
  • Niagra: Miracle’s, Myths and Magic (1986)
  • Tour Etfil (1989)
  • Profile of Philippe Petit (2015)
  • Historischer Hochseilauf (1994)
  • Secrets of Lost Empires: The Inca’s (1997)
  • The Centre of the World of New Your City(1999)

Books Published

  • To Reach the Clouds / The Walk (2015)
  • Why Knot (2014)
  • On the High Wire (1985)
  • Trois Coups (1983)
  • Two Towers, I walk (1975)
  • Funambule (1991)
  • Traite du Funambulisme (1997)
  • Uber Mir Der Offene Himmel (1998)
  • L’art De Pickpocket (2006)
  • Alcanzar las nubes (2007)
  • Creativity: The Perfect crime (2014)