There was television news, television was giving us football and sports, where you could stay at home. Richard Reynolds: All of a sudden, you could hear that whistle way off and everybody would say, it's coming. Use the HTML below. Marjorie Cordell Geiger, Aerialist: I had been exposed to modest nudity in dressing rooms with ballet school, but nothing like that. Anything that’s happening in American culture and American entertainment soon get sucked into the circus. He names it that because this is the first elephant born in the United States and it’s a publicity coup. Everyone else has to follow. When North took charge, he refused to honor the deal. Nikki Bramley He has remarkable energy. She beats him relentlessly. Museum of The City of New York Matthew Wittmann: What Barnum’s entry into the circus business touches off is a new era of rivalry and competition-- the biggest and the best show, the most incredible advertising. Narration: But as the country grew, the circus would evolve with it into a gargantuan, industrialized entertainment, appealing to both the humble and the illustrious. Chapter 1 [:35] 2. Now a soloist, Leitzel’s fame rested on the second half of her act, a series of swing-overs, that would dislocate her shoulder on every turn. Pfening Archives Narration: The circus kicked off with the two combined herds of elephants, followed by seven troupes of aerial performers, May Wirth with her backwards somersaults, and some six hundred other performers. Under the Big Top [8:41] 4. And to the bible thumpers of those days, wasting one's time was sinful. Narration: As the herds got bigger, and trainers tried to outdo each other with more sophisticated tricks, the strain on circus elephants increased. Conejo Valley Historical Society Equestrians, sideshow performers, clowns, roustabouts, an enormous collection of curious beasts—all became figments of a glorious dream. All that was needed to move forward, he insisted was energy, pluck, courage, and a liberal outlay of money. Preview: Season 30 | 30s The Circus explores the colorful history of this popular, influential and distinctly American form of entertainment, from the first one-ring show at the end of the 18th century to 1956, when the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey big top was pulled down for the last time. Narration: 168 people had been killed. Barnum is remembered and debated on the front page of literally hundreds of newspapers around the world, every major western capital, small towns across the United States. Once the circus started traveling, however, it became apparent that Bailey had a host of problems, many of his own making. Richard W. Moore Circus Lantern Slide Collection It’s also quite literally a form of colonialism and imperialism because they are being acquired, transferred, shipped back to New York City through diplomatic agencies. Matthew Wittmann: He very quickly rose in the ranks of the American circus. Carrie Phillips. Found this on Netflix after an eternity of looking for something to sprawl out on the sofa and watch with the dogs. “Eclipse Galop” That was the differentiating factor between a big and a little circus. By 1955, half of American households had a TV. At least one of them, an indigenous Australian named Tambo Tambo, was brought to America against his will. Brown Brothers He even sold tickets for a tour of the generator. Narration: At stops around the country, the women of the Barnum & Bailey circus advocated for suffrage. Then in 1825, a circus owner decided to commission the construction of a canvas tent. Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection DVD List Price: $29.99. And I think that’s one of the moments of these places that’s magical. James Bailey faces his stiffest competition yet and tries to hold on to his edge. Bailey in particular was a striver. Linda Simon When the big top performance began, Chang the Chinese Giant led them into the main pavilion for the opening procession. New Britain Youth Museum Plain Dealer Archive/Barcroft Media He had to borrow $1.7 million to do it. Step right up! October 15, 2018. Johnathan Lee Iverson: The hardest truth ever uttered is, “The show must go on.” In the face of terrible mishaps, in the face of deep sorrow, the show must go on because the fact is life works that way too. So, it becomes a function of your show. Robert Thompson: If I had a time machine, one of the first things I would do would be to set it for about 1842 or ’43 and I would go back to lower Manhattan and I’d go visit the Barnum’s American Museum. The best circus I ever saw, the Sailor Circus, took place under a tent in the parking lot or maybe the athletic field of Sarasota High School. Known as the Adonis of the Altitudes, Codona’s celebrity rested on his skillful execution of a triple somersault. I'm up in the air. James W. Cook: He knew that the circus had a morally suspect reputation on many different levels, and what he does really, in a remarkable way, is create a kind of marketing campaign with testimonials from clergy, from famous writers, and other celebrity figures, who attest to the wholesomeness of his circuses. So, it was the sort of Hollywood kind of marriage made in hell, actually. In the spring of 1917, America entered World War I, alongside Britain and France. Parades clogged Main Street. Matthew Wittmann: Certain people, if you grew up on a farm, had never seen a tent with ten or twelve thousand people in it. He ran around in that cage with such energy, and such projection, that he involved everybody. As the fire raged, embers rained down on the Ringling Brothers circus, which was playing five blocks away. Bailey, on the other hand is very private, very reserved. Chika Offurum. Every season men were injured or killed. Strongwoman Katie Sandwina, vice-president of the circus women’s Equal Suffrage Club,  was among those present. And so, you have Adam Forepaugh who is a giant among the pygmies and portrays himself in lithographs as this giant man with small versions of P. T. Barnum and James Bailey running away in fear at his amazing stature. By advertising many miles further from the circus lot than usual, Barnum had been able to draw audiences from greater distances than any showman ever had before. Many performers were convinced the greatest tragedy in big top history signaled the end of the Ringling Brothers Circus. Narration: The female performers met with leaders of the suffrage movement before setting out on tour. … Nigel Rothfels: The trunk of an elephant has the dexterity of a couple of fingers and yet the power of many people. It was transgressional. The threat to life and limb, the threat of death, is a genuine constant danger that the big cat people all understand. Narration: Without their eldest brother’s firm hand at the helm, the Ringlings struggled. Narration: Just days before he died, Barnum wrote his younger partner with some parting advice. And certainly the spectacle of how the circus operated proved to be fascinating, endlessly fascinating for European audiences. Some 15,000 people poured into a big top as long as three city blocks, to see sixty-six acts perform in four rings and one stage. Frantic people jumped off bleachers. It would stitch into one nation a patchwork of disconnected communities, and dazzle not just Americans but the entire world. Forepaugh accused Barnum of lying. Retrouvez FP-25 THE CIRCUS 1870-1950 et des millions de livres en stock sur Group of clowns, early 20th century. And what they did, they went skinny-dipping, they took their clothes off, laid them on the side of the bank, went in the river, and that was the last they saw of James A. Bailey. Most of the elephants that were showing up in this country are female Asian elephants. And all of the painted props and all of the pieces are modernized, color palettes are changed. Matthew Wittmann: What’s interesting about the tour really is it throws what’s American about the circus into sharp relief. It took firefighters more than an hour to arrive. Narration: The same traditions played out over decades. The Circus: Part 1 My father inspired me to the circus. American Experience is a Production of WGBH, which is solely responsible for its content. American Experience: The Circus An 2018 IDMB évaluation 7,9 (111 Votes) Netflix évaluation 7,8 Directors Sharon Grimberg Actors Robert J. Thompson, Richie Moriarty, Michael Murphy. Running away for her was liberation. But Barnum was not ready to give up. Nigel Rothfels: The opportunity was there to pet the animals. When they got to town the next morning, they’d maybe set up, take a few hours of sleep and then there was the parade and then there was an afternoon performance, and then there was an evening performance and then you did it all again. Janet M. Davis: the way that he performed, not by his own choosing, was in a boxing elephant routine. So, it starts with the street parade and amazing floats and barges and the elephants that are draped in beautiful rich blankets and all of the other animals paraded through the street. It’s not that if they had the power to cause someone to fall they would have exercised it, but they kind of hoped someone would fall, you know, that there’d be a disaster. [NARRATOR:] By 1898, Lowery had finished his training at the conservatory And quickly jumped into circus life, Unlike many of his African American peers. It’s very demanding. Edward Hoagland, Writer, Cage Hand: Circus day with a capital C, capital D, was a big deal and it was very special. Walter Havighurst Special Collections, Miami University Libraries, Oxford, Ohio “Our show for 1881,” he said, “will be known in the amusement records of America as the greatest artistic success of the time.”. No one did that better than Emmett Kelly, a former cartoonist, who first drew his hobo character Weary Willie in 1920. The emotional physics of the world did not apply under the big top. Though he was one of the best cornetists of his generation, like all black musicians of the day, Lowery was almost always confined to the sideshow. I’ll never forget. National Endowment for The Humanities All Rights Reserved. “Never was the circus greater or more fun,” remembered the Ringlings’ equestrian director. Carrie Phillips, Assistant Director of Audience Engagement At around 4am on Christmas Eve, a fire broke out in the building, destroying the performers’ costumes, instruments, and almost the entire menagerie. Anxious to minimize his losses, Barnum arranged for a taxidermist to preserve the country’s most celebrated elephant. Boston Public Library, Stereograph Collection Cradle of the American Circus Résumé Americas circusa spectacle of flying trapeze artists, colorful clowns and trained animal acts under the big topgrew out of the traveling menagerie phenomenon in Somers, New York, in the 1800s. For decades, the performances all began pretty much the same way. Even today, it’s a rarity. They really liked what you did.” And so, the Wallendas had to come out for a bow. Narration: Despite featuring some of the most astounding daredevils ever seen, each year Bailey made less profit than the year before. Jackie Leclaire, Clown, Aerialist: It's a glory there. I knew I would do that work. Ginter On the one hand with muscles coiled like pythons, but on the other gentle, dainty, and sweetly feminine. She’s a robot. Lowery, famed early twentieth century bandleader, spread African - American music with an all-black band in circus performances. PBS American Experience _The Circus 1of4. Where do we go from here, you know. The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation Though unseasonably cold weather plagued the four-week run in Hamburg, audiences packed the tent for almost every performance. It was about possibility. He loved it himself, and I took it from him. And some places in New England actually banned circuses; they couldn’t exhibit at all. “Probably there is not a busier man in America today,” a reporter noted “than Al Ringling, equestrian director of the Ringling Bros. Circus.”, Some fifteen years after starting his circus in Baraboo, Wisconsin, the eldest Ringling brother still began his day before dawn, confirming the route for the parade, which he always led off with a shout of “Forward!”. Janet M. Davis: He was billed as What Is It, The Missing Link, very much reifying racial stereotypes of the day regarding people of color, but at the same time, he was so gifted as a performer that he fooled people that he suffered from microcephaly or he couldn’t speak. The elephant’s name became a way to say enormous. Narration: Coup spent the winter haggling with railroad companies, insisting they clear their tracks at night to guarantee his circus would arrive at its destination by 6 a.m. every day. As head of the American Circus Corporation, Mugivan took the deal. If you fall badly on that, you’ll really hurt yourself. James W. Cook: He’s raised as a ward by his eldest sister. That night, the circus began the long trip to winter quarters in Sarasota, Florida. Getty Images After a stay of many months, the assembled menagerie accompanied by a vast staff of handlers, marched to the coast. Derin Bray For the first time in circus history, Coup commissioned three-sheet color lithographic posters, which were about seven feet tall. In a decade when America was booming, the Ringling Brothers big top was the place to be. Oddball Films My grandfather and his brothers never had a partnership agreement, nothing in writing. Matthew Wittmann: One of the continuing attractions of the circus is that more often than not you’re going to see something that you didn’t expect to see or had never seen before. As the circus roared into the mid-20s, large profits kept rolling in and the brothers found new ways to spend their money. There are no spectators. He had a tent for the menagerie and then one for the performance. Narration: With Mable’s death a few years earlier, Ringling was essentially all alone. Jackie Leclaire: Water is the most precious thing that we have because there is no water there. Though elated by the success of their first combined season, the Ringlings were struggling with sad news on the home front. Bailey’s publicity men countered with some hyperbole of their own. The circus brought together people from all countries. I had an ice pick. Whereas in years past many New Englanders had seen circuses as immoral, there was nothing in Barnum’s show, the local paper said, “to offend the most refined modesty.”. Janet M. Davis Employees of both shows were unsure about their futures. Barnum banned drinking on the show grounds and hired detectives from the Pinkerton Agency to keep everyone’s wallets safe. Bridgeport History Center, Bridgeport Public Library Ammed Tuniziani, Trapeze Artist: The power that it takes to do a triple is very hard. ... American Experience: From Women’s Suffrage to the ERA. Narration: Barnum exploited the innovation in his advertising. But for workers and performers alike, circus life was simply too exhilarating to give up.