Bandwagon, Vol. 7, No. 3 (Mar), 1952. Note: Only some articles are included in this online edition. Illustrations are not included. The Circus Historical Society does not guarantee the accuracy of information contained in the information in these online articles. Information should always be checked with additional sources.
A Baraboo committee was set up last night to work in conjunction with the State Historical Society towards the establishment of a circus museum in Baraboo.
Attorney John M. Kelley, who has worked diligently for this museum for several months, was named chairman of the committee. He appointed L. C. Welch as co-chairman.
An executive committee composed of the following was named at the meeting lost night: Wilber Deppe, M. C. Nelson, George Martiny, Walter Barker, Mrs. P. R. Brannon, V. C. Hunt and Mayor R. W. Prothero.
T. A. Mandt presided at the meeting and called on Attorney Kelley for a report of the work already accomplished.
Attorney Kelley explained the background of the project at the meeting last night. He told how he had spoken to a meeting of the board of directors of the State Historical society about the project. That society then named a committee of the following three men to study the proposal: Charles E. Broughton, Milo K. Swanton, and Perry C. Hill.
Mr. Broughton and Clifford Lord, head of the State Historical society and others were in Baraboo last week to further discuss the proposition.
Mr. Kelley read a letter from Mr. Broughton in which the State Historical society outlined its proposal. Broughton said that under certain conditions the society would help establish a museum in this city. The conditions set were that the museum would be an establishment of the state society, the policy and procedure would also be the domain of that society. He also said that the museum must not be attached to any certain name or group but open to all circus materials appropriate to Wisconsin.
Broughton said in his letter that such a museum, divorced from any particular interest and a truly Wisconsin circus museum, would furnish glory for those who have in the past made circus history. It would likewise place Ringlings in the hall of fame because of their early day achievements and the fact that their circus is a going institution today.
After Mr. Broughton's letter was read, the local committee unanimously passed a resolution supporting the proposal as outlined by Mr. Broughton.
In reporting on the proposed museum Attorney Kelley suggested a site along the Baraboo river near the Broadway bridge and he suggested that such a building be constructed to look like a tent.
The state society will help in the fund raising and in the gathering of the collection for the museum. Such help and technical "know how" from the state society should make this museum an attraction of nation wide interest.
Those attending the meeting last night also voted a resolution thanking the State Historical board. George Banta, who is chairman of that board and Mr. Lord and the committee for their efforts.
Representatives from the following organizations in Baraboo were in attendance of the meeting last night: Chamber of Commerce, the city council, park board, board of education, the American Legion, the Elks, Industrial Expansion Corp., Jr. Federated club, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, A.A.U.W., Theatre Guild, Kiwanis club and Lions club. They will act as the local committee on the project and Mr. Kelley is empowered to name other members to the committee as he sees fit.
The City editors, financial experts and members of the public who thought last year that the issue of the Bertram Mills Olympia Circus shares were priced too high can now eat their words. And in these hungry times, almost anything is worth eating . . . This season Cyril and Bernard Mills decided to start the booking for Olympic three weeks earlier than usual in order to stagger the rush for tickets. Instead, they were staggered. Not only had they received orders to the tune of 20,000 pounds for seats before the box-office opened, but by November 22 all of the 6s., 8s, and 10s. 6d. seats for both houses of the whole season had been sold out, and all the 12s. 6d. and 15s. seats sold up to January 12 (the Circus opens on December 19 and continues until January 31). Three days later all the 12s. 6d. and 15s. tickets had been sold up to January 19. It is probable that, as I write, only a few 12s. 6d. and 15s. matinee seats will be available for the last three or four days. Mind you, Cyril and Bernard Mills have, purely as a matter of principle, maintained their custom of having 500 unreserved seats price 4s. at each performance every day, thus giving poorer people a chance of seeing the circus, although the seats could be sold at a for higher price in advance, but the queues will be enormous.
The circus could, of course, have a much longer season to packed houses but for the fact that Olympia is booked for the Daily Mail "Ideal Homes" Exhibition on the day after the circus closes, while the opening date cannot be put forward because of the Building Exhibition.
"This year the circus will not be in the same street as that of last year," Cyril Mills told me. "It was astonishing how nice the public and the Press were to us for the 1946 season. They realised, of course, that we were working under every possible difficulty and that we had little or no choice in the acts we could secure. Many of the best pre-war acts had not enough time to polish up their performances and get their feet back on the wire. This year we have numbers of acts absolutely new to this country."
In order to fill the bill, Cyril Mills flew thousands of miles in his own aeroplane. A typical twelve days of talent hunting is provided by his diary from June 24 to July 5 this year. On June 24 he saw a circus in Edinburgh before flying back to London, spending next day in his office. On the 26th he flew to Paris and saw two circuses. The 27th found him looking at two more circuses at Basle and Porrentruy. On the 28th he saw a couple more at Lyons and Annecy. On the 29th he saw only one - at Dijon - but on the 30th he saw two other circuses in Paris and Brussels. Similarly, on July 1 he saw three more at Ghent, Le Zoute and The Hague. On the 2nd the indefatigable Cyril inspected two more circuses at Beek and Brunsum, followed by another brace at Liege and Wandres. On July 4 he had another look at Brussels and flew back to Lympne. Next day saw him up at Edinburgh again.
During other weeks of the year he saw six Swedish circuses, three Dutch ones, four Danish, five Norwegian ones, and one Swiss circus. He did not visit the United States because the transport difficulties are too great this year, but he has booked an American act for next year.
In keeping with the rest of the Variety and Circus profession, he has agreed not to employ Japanese or German acts for another eight years. His international bag, however, includes Belgians, Norwegians, Swedes, Czechs, Italians, French acts, Irish Free State acts, English, Arab, Canadian, Danish, Luxemburger, and even Russian performers.
The sensational act this year is the de Riaz team, whom he booked in Paris. They do a trapeze act with the innovation of a model Spitfire buzzing round at the same time. It is the kind of act which you cannot look at, but have to.
Another sensation will surely be caused by the White Devils on the high wire, whom he booked in Prague. The Five Bradforts are Belgians, booked in Amsterdam for this spring-board act - a kind of spring-mattress-somersaulting affair. The Raspinis, booked in Switzerland, do a remarkable ladder-balancing act. The Timenons is the name of the very fast Arab Whirlwinds, as they call their tumbling act.
It was on the borders of Lapland that Cyril Mills booked Rhodins' sea-lions. Like so many of the other acts, this will be the first time they have ever been seen in England. Cavallini and his crash car, which blows up and mysteriously reassembles itself at each performance, was booked in Oslo. The Breatos, one of the aerial acts, were found in Copenhagen. Edouardo is regarded by experts as an even better juggler than Rastelli Though booked in Sweden, he is an Italian, and it is only now that he is allowed to perform in this country for the first time since the war.
There is, of course, a dog act (Victor Julian's); numbers of new horse acts; six elephants, also doing new acts; and troops of clowns, both foreign and English, spilling water all over each other. The Cumberlands are doing an entirely new riding act. But the performers who will, perhaps, be taken most closely to their hearts by the audience are Florence and George, an Irish boy and his sister, aged seventeen and sixteen respectively, therefore the youngest act ever to be shown at Olympia. True, younger children have performed at the circus in an act with grown-ups. But that is different. Cyril Mills booked them in Belfast. Another performer, who calls herself Anita, and who first joined the Bertram Mills Circus as a programme-girl, is now a trapeze artist. Joan Fowles, the equestrienne, is another girl who has graduated from programme-selling to stardom in the sawdust ring.
In his search for talent, Cyril Mills and his brother Bernard, who visited France, Belgium and Holland, always do their best to see the show incognito, though this is not always possible. They like to see what the performers give as their regular routine, so that they can then decide what is most suitable for Olympic. Nearly all the acts to be seen next week at the circus are not only top of the bill on the Continent, but were also on a percentage of the takings. For this reason they make their acts as lengthy as possible. At Olympia it is quite different, and all that the brothers Mills want are the headlights of their performances. Thus Charlie Rivels did only eleven minutes at Olympia, though he was performing for over 50 minutes in circuses on the Continent. In other words, only the stars and the cream of their performances (to change the metaphor) are good enough for Olympia. That is why the interest is so well sustained as the audience is taken from one breathless moment to another. There is never time to be bored.
This year, unless there is a last minute change, there will be no sit-down luncheon at Olympia owing to the Government regulation limiting a public meal to 100 people. Instead, a buffet luncheon will be served, but as buffet luncheons always take up twice as much room as a sit-down meal, the invitations will have to be cut once again. Last year the numbers had to be reduced from a prewar figure of 1,300 to 500 because Olympia was not yet completely clear of war damage. Now this figure of 500 has to be cut again to 250. This will be a keen disappointment for some, as circus hospitality is always on a lavish scale.
Altogether, there are well over 100 circuses on the Continent; France alone has thirty, Sweden coming next with fourteen. Neither Bernard nor Cyril Mills visited Spain and Portugal, but to show how far ahead of the game they have to be they have already booked a number of new acts for 1948. Sometimes, as in the case of Florence and George - the young Free Staters - the Mills brothers have to wait two years before the acts have acquired the polish necessary for Olympia. Sometimes they, again, as in the case of Florence and George, have to help to groom them for stardom. Every year, of course, they have to think up new acts for their horses, which are always a mainstay of the entertainment; new acts for the elephants, without which no real circus would be complete; and new routines for their dozens of clowns. It may be the mixture as before, but the cake must be differently iced, the trimmings must be fresh.
With the exception of German and Japanese acts, the Ministry of Labour show no difficulty about allowing foreigners to come and earn money in this country. This is explained partly by reason of the fact that English circus acts earn more hard currency abroad than has to be paid out in pounds in England, and partly, no doubt, on the old Roman Emperor principle of "If you haven't enough bread, give 'em a circus."
PERU, Ind., March 18 - Hoosier-born Cole Brothers Circus, once billed as "the world's second largest," has dwindled to little more than a side show of horses, ponies and elephants.
With most of its major equipment sold or up for sale, circus observers say it will never again operate as a full scale road show, although the corporation headquarters at Chicago denies that it is splitting up.
Organized in 1934 at Rochester by veteran circus men Zach Terrell and Jesse Adkins, the circus profited enough so that in 1937 it was able to purchase another show and put it on the road.
Later it weathered bad business, frequent changes of ownership, bankruptcy and a $150,000 fire that in 1940 destroyed nearly 150 of its animals.
At times it employed up to 700 workers and performers.
Hoppy Starred In Circus Shows
And it featured names like Clyde Beatty, Terrell, Ken Maynard and, more recently, William (Hopalong Cassidy) Boyd.
Boyd, Arthur Wirtz, Chicago promoter, and James D. Norris, an associate of Wirtz, bought the show in 1950 as it faced a new set of bankruptcy proceedings in Indianapolis Federal Court.
Winter quarters were moved here and thousands of dollars were spent on the new "home," much of it for a new elephant barn.
Following an abbreviated tour in 1950, featuring Boyd, rumors were spread, but denied, that the show again was up for sale.
This month, William B. Horstman, vice-president at Chicago, admitted that "we have sold some equipment and certain animals we no longer calculate using in our operations.
Peru Quarters Remodeled
"On the other hand," he added, "we have also added over $50,000 worth of new equipment during the past year. We have also invested more than that amount in remodeling our winter quarters in Peru, and we plan to continue winter-quartering there indefinitely."
Horstman said the animals would be billed under the Cole Brothers title at an annual spring show at the Chicago Stadium, from April 18 to May 4, but added, "We have no present plans for touring it this season."
Already, however, "for sale" tags have been placed on its 30 railroad cars, and steel wagons reportedly are being converted into semi-trailers for possible tours of a few county fairs.
And the calliope that used to blare out "Back Home Again in Indiana" after each successful cross-country or Canadian tour, apparently has been turned over to someone else.
N. S. W. Australia
Sunday, March 2, 1952
Today saw an impressive sight as Bullen Bros. Circus pulled on the lot in Prince Alfred Park, Sydney.
50 vehicles, 4 elephants, 3 camels, many animal cages and some beautiful horses and ponies. When each unit had been placed the whole set up looked bright, clean and attractive.
This is a road show and the personnel is provided with caravans, some of which were particularly appealing.
It doesn't seem many years ago since Bullens Circus was a small one pole tent show but with a fixed determination Mr. and Mrs. Bullen said "some day, when the boys grow up, we shall be the biggest circus in Australia." Today they have a four pole, two ring show which is certainly second to none in this country.
I understand that Bullens have four more elephants now on their way to Australia, also some tigers, leopards and a bear act.
My conversation with the family was most interesting and I was impressed that the four boys were so versatile and energetic. After all, in most large families there is often one boy who has that tired feeling and is not given very much to work, but in this case, I am pleased to say, all the Bullen boys put their shoulders to the wheel and are endowed with a will to win. To carry on with such team work is a guarantee that they can't lose.
The opening night is four nights away yet so I cannot report on the program but there is every reason to believe that it will be an improvement on any previous performances of theirs.
I'm sure all showmen everywhere wish them every success.
(Signed) SID BAKER, C.H.S.
The Soviet Circus has been grown out of the tradition of the time before the revolution, and having a great history, the circus at any time had a great attractive power to the multitude.
As a national pecularity of the russian circus artists, their athletic power, their cleverness, and their spirit had to be mentioned. They obtained splendid results in all kinds of arts. At the time there were the very famous acrobats Polowinkin, the intrepid equestrians Chundase, the riding juggler Nikitin, the keen rope dancer Molodzon, who crossed the river Newa on a wire.
On the sawdust all over the world the name of the hero athlete Iwan Poddubny is well known. Unsurpassable the clowns and trainers Anatoli and Wladimir Durow.
In spite of all the famous improvements, russian art of circus however began only to improve after the great revolution. Before the revolution many things were in the way to the artist of circus; his dependence to the employer, the poverty of requisites and apparatuses. The exclusive right to employ new members was in the hand of the employers, and the great dynasties of circus scarcely were ready to employ "foreigners." The experiences and the secrets of tricks were only known in the narrow circle of the kin.
The level of the art of circus was not very high.
Only after the revolution of October, art in the "Soviet Land" had a great change: The circus worked for the people, life gave new problems to the circus.
The most characteristics of circus art are the physical power and adroitness of the physical beauty of the human body. The circus is the school of courage. Any danger of death, which was use in the russian circus art before the revolution, and still is marked in the western and american circuses, is completely unacceptable. The soviet artists refuse the play with the death on the sawdust as not belonging to circus art.
Completely changed the character of clowns, the man who gets the box on the ear.
The deep antidemocratic tendency of the civil circus, the readiness the capitalist circus contractors are ready to please the low taste, degrade the figure of the clown to a denial of art.
The soviet spectator demands a high standard of the repertoire of the clown with satire being true, ingenious, and democratic.
A comprehensive definition of the tasks of soviet circus had been given by one of the most celebrated politician and publishers Anatoli Lunatscherski. He underlined the national character of circus art and demanded in this connection: Let us keep the tradition of the circus championship, let us give a hand the powers of the circus, these people, who are devoted to circus art and who work hard on their perfection! Let us clean their art from the dirt and clean the tasteless tricks, let us give the circus a new great task: To present power, adroitness, and courage by splendid and marked performances giving laughter and delight to the people.
The soviet circus of today has its own ways, which are completely different to those in capitalistic countries of Europe and of America and it had a great success within. The soviet circus created a new kind of art and improved the knowledge of circus artists to the highest standard of real art.
In Soviet Russia all circuses are owned by the state. The highest authority is the committee of Cabinet Council of the USSR. Annexed to this committee is the administration of the state bound circus, to which the artists are put under control and it is the committee which distributes the artists to the different collectives of circus.
The future artist starts already at school. At Moscow there is a state school for circus, which is responsible for the instruction of the artist. The head administration possesses a central studio, where artists get their instructions and where different numbers are studied. Every artist of the soviet circus has the possibility to study his number in this studio, as costumes, tools, requisites and rare animals to train is given by the state free of charge.
The circus head administration possesses as well a literary department, where authors are united, who are due to write the scenes for conferenciers and the circus plays. A special department is responsible for the music.
In soviet land the slogan of artists runs: It is only the gift, the state is doing the rest!
It is quite clear, having such splendid conditions, the level of russian circus is very high, and the circus has become an art of the people and the multitude. The tendency to have a good repertoire, a topical theme, the turning away from the ugly, from the play with the death, from the shoddy, all this has created the new type of a new intellectual artist, a real representative of soviet art.
Already splendid stars of circus are with us. One of the best is Borsi Eder, a manysided artist, he is: acrobat, equestrian, trapezist, and animal trainer. Splendid results he had as animal trainer, especially with polar bears and brown bears, with tigers and lions. Eder is the founder of a special method of training. His superiority is calm, courage, and power.
Very popular is the young gifted animal trainer Walentin Filatow. He made up a group of bears and created the bear garden, where bears are presented in several arts as, rope dancer, cyclist, motorcyclist, acrobat, roller skater, boxer, rider, and trapezist.
Very successfull are the performances of the intrepid sportsman' and lion trainer Irina Bugrimowa as well as of the artist Nicolai Gladilschtschikow, who presents a mixed group of bears and lions.
In russian circus are the political clown combined with animal training has been developed to a high standard. The brothers Anatoli and Wladimir Durow are the leaders in the world of circus. The tradition is continuated by the young generation of the Durows. Wladimir and Juri. The Durows present a whole show with trained animals. The Durows is a family of artists, who is one of the first in the world.
Witali Lasarenko was a famous artist. He was specialized as a satirist. His jokes were always striking, ingenious and clear for everybody. He was a famous jumper, too.
Training horses, two artists of the elder generation, Iwan Lerri and Nikolai Nikitin, had splendid results. The younger generation with Borsi Mansheli, Dmitri Kostrjukow had the same results. A. Alexandrow Sersch is a real master of his art. His newest creation a group of vaults on trained horses presenting acrobatic tricks is happening but once.
Very large is the number of acrobats, trapezists, rope dancers. Jelena Sinkowskaja and Victor Lisoin, the trapezists Polina Tschernego and Stephan Rasumow, Jelena Lebedinskaja and Pjots Schtschetinin present complicated breakneck tricks looking like funny plays. Nikolai Swirin and Pawel Tarassow are the most famous rope dancers.
The performances of the group of trapezists "Flying Men" managed by Jewgeni Morus and the cross flying number of the Wladimir Galagans group are amazing.
Since 1948, a new, original performance had been presented, the so-called three graduated acrobat fly combined with flying horizontal bar gymnastics. This number has been studied under the management of the master of circus art Fjador Konjew.
Great cheers earns the excellent riding group of "Kosaks" managed by Michael Tuganow. His members are coscs of the Don, Kuban, and Terex.
A performance of highest standard is presented by the famous conjurer Emil Kio with his pantomimes of very strong political satire.
Specialized in sovietic circus is the art of clowns. Trash, robustness, grimaces of world-weariness are completely tabooed. A real sovietic clown presents ingenious tricks and sharp political satire. Very famous and wanted by the public are Michail Rumjanzew (Caran d'Ache) and Konstantin Berman, who work from time to time as acrobats. Caron d'Ache is as well a talented parodist. In a humorous and striking way he lashes all backwards; his political jokes against the imperialistic instigators of a new war and their handy men are always topical. Konstantin Berman presents satires, too, but his element is the prody on the members of the programme, at this time he is as well a splendid acrobat, juggler, trapezist, who knows to present his numbers with great success.
In the national republics of the USSR, the circus is well known, too. Before the revolution there were no circus collectives. Sometimes artists with very primitive tools were to be seen on a fair, representations, which had nothing to do with real art.
At the time now, all republics have their own circus teams, which know all about rope dancing, juggling, trapezing, etc. The turkmenien equestrians, the assetic Dshigit group managed by Mushtarbek Kotschenows, the armenic jugglers presented by Rafael Manukjan, etc, etc., are real masters in their art.
The soviet circus presents representations of real good entertainments filled with joy of life. These performances are the result of a very hard work of the whole collective of artists and engineers.
The work of these artists is combined with the sovietic authors, pointers, musicians and stage managers of film and theatre. The artists are always in connection with the clubs of the factories, where they often present. From time to time there are conferences between the artists and the members of these clubs, where the programmes and the repertoires of the circus is to be discussed.
Giving the chance to everybody in the large soviet land to attend a show, the head administration of the state circus has created touring groups with all the necessary requisites.
The Soviet circus is growing up. It gives the chances to gifted persons to become star of circus art.
Show opened night to a sell out house for Boeing Aircraft Plant. Business all week was big, with three shows given on both Saturday and Sunday. Joe Basile, director of "Big Top Circus" was guest conductor for the first three days, after which his nephew took over directing the band, with Bill Tumber doing the announcing.
Janets Wonder Ponies and Trained Dogs are truly just that. I have never seen more perfectly groomed stock enter a circus ring. However due to Janet's contracting pneumonia and being hospitalized, they only appeared for one performance. Prince El Ki Gordo also suffered two broken ribs and a broken hand and was only able to work his wild animal act for two shows, much to "Dad" White's disappointment, as he had made the trip from Fredonia, Kansas, to catch the act.
I missed Francine Valnate as she is also out due to a severe back injury. Don't think by this that the show was weak, as they had plenty of show, with running time better than two and a half hours.
Capt. Roland Tieber and his trained seals presented the some smooth act that he has had for years. It is always a pleasure to watch these three fine showmen. Winifred Colleano is still the same skilled performer. Years only add luster to this artist.
Searl Simmons and his charming wife, "Peaches," present their aerial ballet. Searl is a Wichita boy, so naturally was kept busy receiving congratulations on a beautiful act, as well as being entertained. He also received some nice publicity in the local papers.
The Eight Arriolas are without a doubt the most outstanding trampoline and casting act in show business today. They are a sensation, beautiful girls, beautifully wardrobed and wonderfully presented.
Madam Malikova is billed as the Queen of all Lady Wire Walkers, and she is just that without a doubt. She is tops of all single wire acts, working utterly without fear, and doing hair-raising stunts.
The show closed with the Great Rasin. This act was perhaps more thrilling in our small Forum, as he had to go clear to the top to get the heighth and room to jump the gap, making one of the most thrilling closings to a great show.
I have only reviewed some of the fine acts that appeared, but cannot close without mentioning my friends the clowns. The perennial Cosmo is always looked for and gladly greeted. So also is a wonderful crowd pleaser, Billy Rice, along with Francisco, Jimmy Davidson and his trained dog, and Gabby Decoe
The show was plagued with accidents and sickness. Enroute to visit with his sister Winnie, Con Colleano and wife were injured in an automobile accident, but neither received severe injuries. Also enroute from Kansas City to Wichita, The Torellis turned over both the horse truck and pony truck. No one was injured, but the horses were skinned up and one pony was lamed.
The entire show is rehearsing for a show to be put on in Pittsburgh for Father Sullivan. Featured singer will be Miss Torrelli.
Visitors included "Dad" White from Fredonia, Kansas, who is already making plans for the Convention in Baraboo, Wisconsin; Mr. and Mrs. Julian West; Dole Madden of Cappell Bros.; Mr. and Mrs. Jim Ferrell, well known horse fanciers of Great Bend, Kansas; and Con Colleano and wife.
The show has four weeks lay off, re-opening in Buffalo, New York.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or means
Last modified December 2005.
without written permission of the author and the Circus Historical Society, Inc.
Last modified December 2005.