History of the Circus
When it comes to the history of the circus, you should know that the start of this enterprising business did not begin with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey. The traveling conglomeration of trained animals, acrobats, and clowns is a concept believed to originate during the times of Ancient Rome. Since the chariot races and battling wildlife of the past, many circus pioneers paved the way for the types of shows we are privileged to enjoy today. The Contemporary Circus
The 1960’s and 1970’s brought harsh times for the circus, as animal rights became a hot topic of concern. Circuses started to merge with other productions in order to maintain their business. They also started to create a mix of acts that showcased both animals and human performers. This can be seen in the efforts of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, the Moscow State Circus, and the Circus Royale in Australia. A shift from animal performers to complete human productions started to emerge in many countries. Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is an American circus company billed as The Greatest Show on Earth. The company was started in 1919 when the circus created by James Anthony Bailey and P. T. Barnum was merged with the Ringling Brothers Circus. The Ringling brothers purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1907, but ran the circuses separately until they were finally merged in 1919. In 1957 John Ringling North changed the circus from using their own portable tents to using venues, such as sports stadiums that had the seating already in place. In 1967 Irvin Feld bought the circus, but in 1971 he sold it to Mattel. He bought it back in 1982.
The Story Behind Ringling Brothers
Five siblings created the small Ringling Brothers Circus around the same time that Barnum and Bailey was enjoying a wealth of popularity. As customary of the times, the Ringling Brothers circus traveled from town to town in small caravans guided by animals. They primarily toured the Midwest and soon gained instant success, quickly growing in size and status. Their circus became so large that a train was needed to transport the bulk of their business. It is through this mode of transportation that the Ringling Brothers became known as the largest traveling show of their day. Combining Shows
The Ringlings purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1907 and kept the circuses separate for several years. In 1919, the last remaining Ringling Brothers, Charles and John decided to combine the two circuses because, as they grew older, it was becoming more and more difficult to accommodate the independent enterprises. The "Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows" made its debut at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 29th, 1919. Throughout the 20s, the circus generated great success and when Charles passed away in 1926, John Ringling became recognized as one of the richest men in the world. Although the Great Depression packed a mighty blow to the progress of the circus throughout the 1930s, the business managed to stay afloat. John Ringling's nephew (also named John) took over the maintenance of the circus' affairs during this turbulent time, which lasted for several decades. Despite travel restrictions that World War II brought upon the United States, President Roosevelt made a special declaration to allow the circus to use the rail system. The business reeled from a decrease in crowds and higher cost demands. As movies and television became the latest craze, the circus slowly lost its appeal. A last performance under the big top took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 16th, 1956. A Comeback
In 1957, John Ringling North transported the circus from a tent show to an indoor production. Irvin Feld, a well-known name in the rock 'n roll tour production industry was brought on board to help the...