Originally from Hungary, the Spessierts anglicized their name to Spessardy and had a small travelling circus and menagerie, sometimes containing tigers and bears, sometimes (as in American vaudeville) only bears. We first find mention of them in London’s “Greater Britain” Exhibition in 1899. In the first decade of the 20th century we see them playing Luna Park in Coney Island, Keith’s Theatre in Boston, and a venue in Montreal. The Cambridge Tribune in 1905 called them “one of the most humorous and interesting acts in vaudeville”. The First World War appears to have caused a shake-up. Two sons, Charles and Roger briefly left performing, then went on to take over France’s Circus Pinder in 1928, taking it on to great success over the decades until Charles’s death in 1971.
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc