World Circus Day is always the third Saturday in April; this year, we thought we would use the occasion to help you maximize the usefulness of the content in the Travalanche circus section, with a bit of an aid to navigation.
The section arose organically out of the fact that circus was one of the many art forms which paved the way for vaudeville and continued to feed it and color it throughout its existence. Our initial 2011 post on the relationship between the two forms is here.
And then, as we profiled hundreds of vaudeville stars, and many of them were also circus performers, that content stream did double duty; we have written about hundreds of acrobats, animal acts, jugglers, sideshow acts, and clowns (though not all of the clown posts are circus related).
Starting with PT Barnum (who had a hand in nearly all forms of American show business), we have also written about circus entrepreneurs and their shows, including founders Philip Astley, and John Bill Ricketts, as well as well-known later figures such as the Ringling Brothers, Cole Brothers, Clyde Beatty, James A. Bailey, Adam Forepaugh, Mighty Haag, Hagenbeck-Wallace, Sells-Floto, Al G. Barnes, Yankee Robinson, John Robinson, and many others down to the present day.
Then there is the phenomenon of circus or circus-themed movies, dozens of which we have posted about. These have included:
The Circus Man (1914) based on a George Barr McCutcheon novel
Polly of the Circus (1917) with Mae Marsh
The Biggest Show on Earth (1918) with Enid Bennett
WC Fields’ Sally of the Sawdust (1925)
Harry Langdon’s The Strong Man (1926)
Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus (1928)
The Circus Kid (1928) with Frankie Darro, Poodles Hanneford, Joe E. Brown, and Helene Costello
Rare Circus Silents at the Niles Silent Film Museum
Joe Cook’s Rain or Shine (1930)
Everything’s Rosie (1931) with Bert Wheeler
Marilyn Miller’s Sunny (1932)
Polly of the Circus (1932) with Marion Davies
Hypnotized (1932) with Moran and Mack
Laurel and Hardy’s The Chimp (1932)
Mae West’s I’m No Angel (1933)
Joe E. Brown’s The Circus Clown (1934)
Circus Girl (1937) with June Travis
The Marx Brothers’ At the Circus (1939)
WC Fields’ You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (1939)
Walt Disney’s Dumbo (1941)
Mad Wednesday or The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1950), Harold Lloyd
The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
Eliza Kazan’s Man on a Tightrope (1953)
Carnival Story (1954), a late RKO release with Anne Baxter and Jay C. Flippen
3 Ring Circus (1955) with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
Trapeze (1957) with Burt Lancaster
Walt Disney’s Toby Tyler or 10 Weeks with the Circus (1960) with Kevin Corcoran
Berserk (1967) with Joan Crawford
I’ve also written about some circus TV shows:
Circus Boy (1956-58) with Mickey Dolenz
The Greatest Show on Earth (1963-64) with Jack Palance
In addition to the scores of profiles of circus stars, bosses and veterans on Travalanche, and the history, there are also lots of reviews of contemporary circuses and circus books, op-eds about the circus business, circus ethics and aesthetics, and circus news. Again, find it all here.
Happy World Circus Day!
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