Aging circus daredevil Gambini the Great has a hypnotic effect on the children of Walnut Grove, especially Albert and Willie. A tragedy during one of Gambini's stunts will provide a chilling lesson in hero worship.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Carrie Ingalls (as Lindsay Sidney Greenbush)
Carrie Ingalls (as Lindsay Sidney Greenbush)
Harriet Oleson (as Katherine MacGregor)
Melissa Francis ...
Cassandra Cooper Ingalls (as Missy Francis)
Brenda Turnbaugh ...
Wendi Turnbaugh ...


Daredevil Rudolpho Gambini is the headlining act for a traveling circus; his signature act is the "burning box," wherein bound and chained, he attempts to escape a burning coffin before being overcome by smoke and flames. However, the aging Gambini (aka Gambini the Great) no longer has the skills to escape the box as he once did; circus workers are forced to rescue Gambini. At the hospital, Gambini angrily rejects his family's plea to retire; when eldest son Stefano announces his intention to seek an education (rather than carry on the generations-old circus show), the elder Gambini tells him to get out. Younger son Marco keeps silent, but confides in Stefano that he too has no desire to be a circus performer. Weeks later, a fully recovered Gambini and his entourage arrive in Walnut Grove for a series of performances; Mrs. Olesen is the promoter and gleefully welcomes the show to town. After school, the children watch the Gambinis rehearse their act and the children are awestruck at ... Written by Brian Rathjen <>

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Release Date:

9 November 1981 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Lesson About Life!!
8 December 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The following episode dealt with the master of circus expertise. Gambini himself learned how to escape the jaws of death in any trick. The opening part of the show; however, had some scary moments. Papa Gambini did not escape a burning fire while being locked in chains (on his wrists and feet) while he was contained in a coffin. He survived the scare; but not without some tense moments before arriving at the hospital. After being admitted into the hospital, his older son was concerned about assuming the responsibility of being a great performer in his father's place. The older son balked at the idea; consequently, his father eventually disowned him of any link to the Gambini Family. Marco then takes over his father's role as a performer; much against his mother's wishes.

Later on in the show, Albert Ingalls was being negligent in his family chores at home. He spent a good two hours or so (or so it may seem) being around the Gambinis. He had told Mr. Gambini he had never learned how to use a tight rope; Charles Ingalls said, "That day will NEVER come!!" He told Albert Ingalls that he was not going to be a patient -- he was going to be a doctor. Albert interjected by saying, "But Pa ..." And Charles Ingalls said, "I DON'T want to hear anymore about it ... go put on your shoes ... you got chores to do at home." Mr. Gambini complied to Charles Ingalls' wishes about having young people endangering their lives just for an act in the circus. The Final Rating: An 8.6!! I highly recommend watching this episode -- dating back from the 1981-1982 Television Season!!

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