Saturday, April 30, 2011

To Dave

04-30-2011 06;10;56AM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

This is from a set of pictures taken of the Plunkett Show in the 1940's.

From Jack Ryan

rabbit_foot, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.


Here's a photo I took of the Rabbit Foot Minstrels' historic marker in Port Gibson, Mississippi last fall.

I remember the show well. My father, who would go to see ANY show under canvas, took us regularly. We were often the only Caucasian family in the tent and always treated with great courtesy.


Rabbit Foot Minstrels (From Buckles)

04-29-2011 04;35;29PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Foot Parade and Band Concert in Hattiesburg, Mississippi 1917.

Photos from William H.B. Jones
Galveston, Texas

1953 Rabbit Foot Minstrels #1

04-29-2011 04;31;31PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Monroe, Louisiana Sept. 9, 1953

1953 Rabbit Foot Minstrels #2

04-29-2011 04;29;45PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

1953 Rabbit Foot Minstrels #3

04-29-2011 04;28;19PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

1953 Rabbit Foot Minstrels #4

04-29-2011 04;26;37PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

1953 Rabbit Foot Minstrels #5

04-29-2011 04;23;35PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

1953 Rabbit Foot Minstrels #6

04-29-2011 04;21;48PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

1953 Rabbit Foot Minstrels #7

04-29-2011 04;20;05PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

1953 Rabbit Foot Minstrels #8

04-29-2011 04;18;06PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cristiani Bros. AMAZING LEAPS (1959)_Half Sheet Flat

Cristiani Lithos (1959) From Chris Berry

A few days ago Jerry Cash posted terrific pictures from the Hollywood stand during the late summer of 1959. As part of the discussion Ole Whitey told a fascinating story about taking the bus on a Sunday from Santa Ana to the showgrounds at Beverly and Fairfax, where (among other things) he saw the great wire walker Con Colleano for the first time. On the posting Ole Whitey recounted his belief at the time that the Colleano act was so spectacular that it merited its own litho. While there never was a Colleano poster for Cristiani, I have created a gallery of a few of the posters that WERE in Ole Whitey's litho hod that summer...billed for the Chico, California date and perhaps even posted by Ole Whitey himself during that long-ago summer, now some 51 years ago!

From Kenny Dodd #1

04-08-2011 03;20;07PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

From Kenny Dodd #2

04-08-2011 03;37;42PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

"Looks like Al Vidbel to me.
Wardrobe a bit more opulent in these pix than what we see with Ringling today.
I wonder if this is the "Jumgle Drums" number?
They were still playing the music with the Hanneford Show in the 1990's."

From Kenny Dodd #3

04-08-2011 03;35;26PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

From Kenny Dodd #4

04-08-2011 03;00;00PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

From Kenny Dodd #5

04-08-2011 03;01;19PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

From Kenny Dodd #6

04-08-2011 03;29;02PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

From Bill Powell

Image00049, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.


I wanted to pass this on for blog readers. Phil Mckinley who directed several successful editions of Ringling is now working on Spiderman on Broadway. He was interviewed on the Today Show yesterday.

New team's Rx for 'Spider-Man': Turn up the romance
The new director and writers of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" revealed their plan Tuesday to rescue the troubled and expensive Broadway musical: Focus on the love story.

From Don Covington

cleaned up logo, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Big Apple Circus Presents the Havin' a Ball Tour! From the Big Top to the Ballpark!
Big Apple Circus presents four special circus spectaculars, July 13-19, at ball parks in Rochester & Syracuse, NY; Eastlake, OH and Lancaster PA

Big Apple will be appearing in an open air format for several dates this upcoming summer. John "Eggroll" Kane has been signed as the "Genuine Ringmaster".
Further information available at the Circus Fans of America web site.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Floyd King's Cole Bros. Circus 1930

04-28-2011 03;57;58PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

The Cole Bros title has been used by a number of circus owners, and the funniest story I know about it came from Floyd King and Joe Bradbury used it in his great series on the Adkins and Terrell Cole show.

It seems that when Adkins and Terrell were trying to come up with a title for their new 1935 show Dr King suggested Cole Bros, which he himself had used just a few years earlier. After some discussion they asked him to be sure there would be no legal problems in using the Cole title.

John Pluto thought he owned the title and sent them a "cease and desist" letter, but Phineas got the full story from Elmer Jones. Years earlier when he (Jones) had sold Pluto some equipment that he had used on his "Cole Bros" Pluto insisted that he get the Cole title as well. As Jones later told King, "I knew I didn't own the title but I wasn't going to let Pluto get out of Hot Springs with all that money, and I just decided to throw it in."
Dave Price

Regarding Port Gibson (From Dave Price)

SAVE0875, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Lots of show folks lived in Port Gibson. F S Wolcott of Rabbit Foot Minstrels fame owned a small hotel there and I knew two old time billposters who lived there: Elmer Yancy and Mark Frisbee.

The scenes in "Raintree County" that show the old burned our plantation mansion were shot right out of here. I believe the old place was called "Windsor."

Port Gibson is also where one church has a steeple in the shape of a hand with the index finger pointing straight up.

Jones Bros. & Wilson's Shows 1914

04-27-2011 04;20;30PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

My dad wrote on the back:

"Jones Bros. & Wilson's Wild Animal Shows 1914 owned by E.H. and J.A Jones. Fourteen Railroad cars.
L to R- Howard Damon, Wm. Campbell, unknown rep of Erie Printing Co., Harry G. Wilson, Elmer Jones and Otto Hoffman."

Not enough names, maybe soneone can add to this.

1915 Jones Bros. Circus #1 (From Buckles)

04-27-2011 04;26;20PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Charlie Campbell wrote on the back:

"Man in picture is Ed Gentry.
He died in 1956 at Port Gibson at age of 86.
He was with Elmer and J. Augustus Jones for years."

1915 Jones Bros. Circus #2

04-27-2011 04;28;13PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

My dad wrote on the back:

"Jones Bros.Shows 1915
The "Wilson" has been painted out on the doorway banner.
Danny McIntyre in foreground."

1915 Jones Bros. Circus #3

04-27-2011 04;30;58PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

1915 Jones Bros. Circus #4

04-27-2011 04;32;30PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

1915 Jones Bros. Circus #5

04-27-2011 04;34;45PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

My dad wrote on the back:

"Jones Bros. World Toured Shows 1915.
Clown Band on former B&B Tableau Den."

1915 Jones Bros. Circus #6

04-27-2011 04;37;12PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

1915 Jones Bros, Circus #7

04-27-2011 04;42;04PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

1915 Jones Bros. Circus #8

04-27-2011 04;46;04PM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

"Myrtle", "Bonnie" and "Babe" trained by Cheerful Gardner.
Purchased by Charlie Sparks at auction when the Jones Show folded (now called Cole Bros,) in 1917.

BABE (Sparks Babe)
1915 Jones Bros. Circus
1916-17 Cole Bros. Circus
1918-31 Sparks Circus
1932-48 Ringling-Barnum Circus
1949 Dales Bros. Circus
1950 Stevens Bros. Circus
(Died at the Hugo Fairgrounds in Feb. of 1951)

Her hide was tanned and used to cover the new furnature in Kelly Miller's large estate under construction across from quarters.
Her head was mounted over the "Silver Dollar Bar" in the basement.
All lost when the original structure was destroyed by fire during which the top was taken off the responding fire engine by the arch way front gate.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

From Mike Naughton

Susan%20Vidbel%20Bob%20Cat, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

The captivating and classy aerial star, Susan Vidbel Ashton, commandeers the bob cat to unload the equipment as CIRCUS VIDBEL prepares to open the 2011 season at Sarasota Square Mall, Beneva and Sarasota Square Blvd., close to Rt. 41.
One day only, Friday, April 29 at 5:00 and 7:30, featuring: Jay Walther and Tosca Zoppe, bareback horses; Armando Cristiani, juggler; Susan Vidbel, cloud swing; The Mike Ashton Family, risley and more.
The lot is located on a perfect grassy lot behind the shopping center at the intersection of Sarasota Square Blvd. and Potter Park Drive.

Proske #1 (From Eric Beheim)

Proske-1, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Back when I was in high school, and long before I had ever heard of Charly Baumann or Gunther Gabel Williams, I read LIONS, TIGERS, AND ME, the 1956 autobiography of famous wild animal trainer Roman Proske. (The fact that he was originally from Vienna had special meaning for me since both of my paternal grandparents were Viennese.)

Proske #2

Proske-2, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Born into a well-to-do, aristocratic family, Proske, who had no animal training experience of any kind, first realized that he wanted to become a wild animal trainer after seeing a lion act in a circus when he was 11. When he was barely 13, he ran away from home to become an apprentice with a small circus. A year or so later he had a chance encounter with Emerie Hansler, Austria’s only wild animal dealer. Impressed by Proske’s enthusiasm, Hansler hired him as a baggage boy for an expedition he was sending to British East Africa to collect animals. While in Africa, Proske worked with five 4-month-old lion cubs that the expedition had captured. Using cubes of meat as a reward, he “trained” them to perform a few simple tricks. Hansler was so delighted that, after the expedition returned to Europe, he bought Proske a group of two-year-old male lions for him to train and then present during a circus tour through Bohemia in 1913. (Proske’s account of how he went from raw amateur to polished performer is rather sketchy and lacking in specific detail. He did express appreciation for the knowledge and advice he picked up from other trainers whom he met along the way.) By the end of 1913, and while still a teenager, he received star billing when his lion act was booked into a major theater in Vienna.

Proske #3

Proske-3, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

One of the stunts that Proske performed with his lions was this human-on-animal sandwich.

Proske #4

Proske-4, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Proske later performed a similar human-on-animal sandwich using tigers.

Proske #5

Proske-5, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

After touring throughout Europe and the Middle East, Proske came to the United States in 1933 for a season-long engagement at Atlantic City’s famous Steel Pier. (According to Proske, his Steel Pier schedule was a grueling one with four and some times five performances a day!) While appearing in Atlantic City, he met and became friends with a number of famous entertainers including singer Rudy Vallee who, according to Proske, took thousands of feet of movie film of his act and who later helped him secure bookings. (One wonders where this movie footage is now!) During his first year in America, Proske also met and became good friends with Frank Buck.

Proske #6

Proske-6, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Proske and his dancing tiger Lily. During Proske’s years in America, many of his engagements were in theaters like the Roxy in New York, the Earle Theater in Washington, and in prestigious venues like Billy Rose’s Case Manana in New York. In 1939, he was featured at Frank Buck’s Jungleland exhibit at the New York World’s Fair.

Proske #7

Proske-7, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

One of the incidents that Proske relates in his book is the time he was booked into Cleveland by Hamid-Morton to appear in a locally sponsored circus. (The Al Sarat Grotto Circus?) Appearing on the same bill as an added attraction was “the biggest name wild animal act in America.” (Clyde Beatty?) After the show opened, and despite the good reviews that Proske’s act had received, the local sponsoring committee tried to have it removed from the program because, as the chairman explained, “We feel a lion or a tiger is supposed to be a ferocious animal and the act should be of that nature.” In an interview that appeared in the Cleveland Press Bob Morton came to Proske’s defense: “This committee has discriminated against Captain Proske when, as a matter of fact, he is stealing the show. He is proving that lions and tigers can be trained without cracking whips or exploding guns in their faces.” Later, when he was appearing in a series of indoor dates produced by Orrin Davenport, Proske’s act was signed to appear for a two-week engagement in Detroit. The big-name act that he had encountered in Cleveland had also signed up with the Detroit committee but with the understanding that Proske and his tigers would not appear on the same program. Since Proske already had a signed contract, the committee ended up paying him in full not to appear.

Proske #8

Proske-8, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

During his career, Proske was injured by his animals on numerous occasions. But, as he remarked, “there was always enough left of me for a return visit.”

Proske #9

Proske-9, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

According to Proske, “It takes a lot of meat to keep a tiger happy.”

Proske #10

Proske-10, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Like Clyde Beatty, Proske had his own zoo in Florida in the 1940s.

Proske #11

Proske-11, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Proske and the tigress Judith, whom he considered the “meanest tiger I have ever known.”

Proske #12

Proske-12, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

While appearing in the Orpheum Theater in Los Angles, Proske was attacked by Judith and badly mauled. While in the hospital and in danger of losing one of his legs to gangrene, one of his frequent visitors was Mabel Stark, to whom Proske later gave credit for giving him the “encouragement that sparked my will to live.”

Proske #13

Proske-13, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Frank Buck had first suggested that Proske sign with Ringling-Barnum in 1938 after John Ringling North had reinstated wild animal acts to the performance. However, due to other commitments and then Alfred Court’s long stay with the show, it wasn’t until 1947 that Proske finally got to appear with the Greatest Show on Earth, and then only when the show played the large Eastern cities. (In signing with Ringling, it was understood that he would leave the show once the one-day stands began.) Appearing with him during the wild animal display were Konselman’s polar bears and Dhotre Damoo’s smaller cats. While performing with Ringling, Proske was immortalized by the famous color photo of him that appeared in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, and which Buckles posted a few weeks ago.

Proske #14

Proske-14, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Another photo that was probably taken in Proske’s Florida zoo/tiger farm.

Proske #15

Proske-15, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Following an engagement at the Palace Theater in New York in 1949, Proske decided to retire to Florida. (While in retirement, he trained this male jaguar “not with any professional purpose in mind but simply for the fun of it.”) Used copies of LIONS, TIGERS, AND ME are readily and inexpensively available from If you knew and/or worked with Roman Proske and have additional information to post about his life and career, it will be greatly appreciated by the rest of us.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

1950's Elephants (From Jim Elliott)

04-25-2011 11;30;02AM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Ringling-Barnum herd 1952.

1950's Elephants #2

04-25-2011 11;34;03AM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

This is identified as Clyde Beatty Circus 1953.
The harness looks 1950's vintage but the barn is a lot like the grandstand in DeLand.
What do you think Dave?

1950's Elephants #3

04-25-2011 11;43;10AM, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Tony Diano Circus #1

This is one of three punks Rex Williams trained for Diano, "Tusko", "Betty" and "Katie".