YESTERDAY'S TOWNS

HOWDY, MY NAME IS BILL STRONG, I'LL BE YOUR "24 HOUR MAN", ROUTING YOU INTO THE PAST TO SEE WHAT THE CIRCUS WAS IN DAYS GONE BY. IF YOU'RE LIKE ME, AND MISS WHAT IT USED TO BE, THEN COME ON ALONG AS WE GO DOWN THE ROAD FOLLOWING THE ARROWS BACKWARDS, TO "YESTERDAY'S TOWNS"! IF YOU HAVE CIRCUS RELATED PICTURES YOU WOULD LIKE POSTED, SEND THEM TO,,,,yesterday1@verizon.net,,,,AND WE WILL TRY TO FIT THEM IN. "24 HOUR MAN" WILL HAVE THE FINAL DECISION ON POSTING.

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Location: GIBSONTON, FLORIDA, United States

Three years at CWM made me a real traditionalist, and I keep remembering Bob Parkinson saying, "I want the people to see what the circus used to be, not what it is today. That's what this site is about!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

FROM JOHN HERRIOTT'S CIRCUS TRIVIA TREASURES

We have another great question from Mr. Herriott

I have always felt that the most dangerous aerial feat that I have witnessed and certainly requiring great skill, timing and alot of nerve, is the forward dive from a swinging trapeze, catching by the heels, without a net. It would be interesting to hear from you out there on some of the great aerialists who have accomplished this as part of their act.
Maybe our distinguished moderator could search his files and find a photo of one or more of these great circus daredevils. To start off the bidding I recall a fellow by the name of Frank Doyle. Who was the other Frank? I hope we are off and running.




HERE IS ONE JOHN, THERESA MORALES

19 Comments:

Blogger 24-HOUR-MAN said...

I don't think I have one of Frankie, but if anyone has one, or of anyone else doing this trick, send it to me,,,,(jpeg, or jpg),,,,,at pharoah11@verizon.net & I would be more than happy to post it, and give credit.

12/05/2006 4:38 PM  
Anonymous dpowhitetiger said...

How about if I say Gerard
Soules and then Elvin Bale after Soules...Then Mark Lutz..Might have to help me out on Mark's last name. If I'm out of order, I will buy Col. Herriott a Showfolks Drink.

12/05/2006 5:00 PM  
Blogger Mr. Lee said...

Mark David {Pilger} I think Miss Mara{christiani} also.

12/05/2006 5:15 PM  
Anonymous dpowhitetiger said...

I think the other Frank is Frank Shepard....

12/05/2006 5:39 PM  
Blogger Bob Cline said...

I would agree with Mr. Orr, Frank Shepherd should be the other Frank. He was a feature on the Cole show as well as in a flying act at one time. Did Mr. Herriott work with him? I know Buckles was on the Cole show but I forgot if he was there when Mr. Shepherd was or not.
Bob

12/05/2006 11:18 PM  
Anonymous johnny said...

I believe that I saw Frank Doyle before I saw Shepherd but both were before I was with Cole Bros. Maybe I saw Doyle with Beatty, I am not sure. Never the less I am aware that both did the trick.

12/06/2006 8:37 AM  
Anonymous unohoo said...

One year while in Detroit during the Orrin Davenport years a pretty young lady who was the feature of the aerial display, cloud swing,traps, rings, over the center ring, was Eleanor Velarde. She did the dive heel catch. Anybody remember her? Also on Hubert Castle when all the great Berosini family acts were with the show, Bobby Berosini did the complete heel trapeze routine including this trick and his act was excellent. Later he would be known for his performing Orangatangs'

12/06/2006 10:13 AM  
Anonymous henry edgar said...

Frankie doyle ws the first great heel catch aerialist i ever saw, on ringling in the late 50s. he had been with beatty earlier. as far as i know, his picture was never in the ringling program, though i've seen his photos on ebay. a really nice man as well as a great performer. when doyle left, gerard soules came in, he was with cristiani earlier, then along came the real star, elvin bale, who had been with beatty cole and a tour of russia with the same act. Once you've seen elvin, he will always overshadw all the others, just as with his wheel. between his talent, his all-american movie star looks and his electrifying style and showmanship, he was the best. i haven't seen anybody since then who could touch any one of these three -- doyle, soules or bale.

12/06/2006 10:26 AM  
Anonymous johnny said...

Thanks for all your interesting comments and we certainly saute all of those that have done this perilous feat. You are unique in circus history.

12/07/2006 10:07 AM  
Anonymous dpowhitetiger said...

Nov / Dec 2006 White Tops page 43 "Remembering Gerard Soules" article written by Richard Via. A factual article that goes into a number of his circus achievements. Mentions his five feet ten muscular boby unlike most trap artist. That when he would catch the trap with his heels there was a loud snap that made the audience gasp for breath. So true this was. And to squelch rumors that he was loosing his nerve agreed to do a Billy Smart command performance in England. Did his performqnce returned back in the USA and sold his equipment to Elvin Bale. This is a full page article with a picture Gerald and his poodles.

12/07/2006 6:46 PM  
Blogger 24-HOUR-MAN said...

I don't think it could be said that he lost his nerve, it's called having doubts, and that's when it's time too quit. His very words to me on the subject were, "I came down after one show, and said, that's all, no more".

12/07/2006 8:32 PM  
Blogger 24-HOUR-MAN said...

A little bit about the young lady in the picture above, she was a feature on Sells-Floto Circus at the age of 16, Great Circuses of that period built whole advertising campaigns around her. She was a feature on Downie Bros. in 1933-34-35, & at New York's Hippodrome in 1936. She continued to work into the Early 1950's.

Some of her early posters are on display along with some items on the Wilson Family, in a Circus Exhibit at the Library in Brandon FL through December.

12/07/2006 8:50 PM  
Anonymous Roger Smith said...

Gerard Soules had his plate-spinning act on Beatty-Cole, in '64. During a visit by Barbette, he was practicing the heel catch, speaking of getting it back the hard way, "considering the circumstances under which I quit." I never knew what he meant, and didn't ask.

Years later, my girlfriend's single trap act had an announcement calling for the "Flying, Twisting Heel Catch!" She dove forward to a hock hang, then during the next several swings she looked like she was doing "The Twist" upside-down, as she finally squiggled into a hang from her bumps, about 4 inches from her heels. I was on her web and had to bite my cheeks not to smile.

This magnificent young lady, Theresa Morales--now them's HEELS.
My ex will remain nameless.

12/07/2006 11:05 PM  
Anonymous john herriott said...

Mark Pilger was a Baraboo boy. He is a product of the short lived circus school at the Circus World Museum founded by then, Museum director Bill Schultz. A certain element were aghast that kids would be running around on this hallowed ground and that the Director was not spending enough time on wagon restoration, etc. Probably true, however in hindsight isn't it too bad that this program had to be discontinued when now it might be the one thing that could keep the museum thriving with community spirit and input, ala Peru Circus Festival. In Baraboo there was community support at the time, and should have nurtured if the right people would have joined in. So Mark Pilger became Mark David and starred in the Living Carosoul production of RBBB, one of Felds recent good quality shows. Mark has worked extensively for George and Vicky Hanneforde, among others. I believe his overall presentation to be right on par with the greats that have been mentioned.

12/07/2006 11:25 PM  
Blogger 24-HOUR-MAN said...

I may be wrong but I believe Helene Hendricks also did Heel Catches, whether she did the forward or not I don't remember.

12/08/2006 8:12 AM  
Anonymous 40yearShowbum said...

Why, Roger Smith! How dare you talk about Mimi Zerbini like that?

12/11/2006 1:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am told Winnie Colleano Con's sister did it BAREFOOT. There was a ,short film called "Bozo's Circus" ( 8 mm )shows just that but does not identify the artist. My source says it must have been Winnie Colleano.
Most heel catch trap artists use hooks on their heels, Elvin Bale looked deformed the gaff was so big but the act was the best I have been priveleged to see.

12/31/2006 6:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have seen a 16mm film called "Bozo's Circus" filmed in CA in 1949 that shows Eleanor Velarde doing the heal catch.

I have been in contact with her family,...Although they were not very helpful in helping me to contact Mrs. Velarde,...I was told she is about 82 and still alive and doing ok.
Please email me about any info on Eleanor Velarde, Captain Winston's Sea Lions, Ted DeWayne,...
Thank you,
Tom Holbrook
Email; bozo_history@yahoo.com

3/02/2008 3:44 PM  
Blogger April said...

Mark David Pilger-He was my neighbor, and a very dear friend of my family's. As a child, I watched him swing from heights I couldn't even imagine in his back yard as my eldest brother held the rope Mark used to climb to the top and would use as a brace during practice. My mother sewed all of his costumes for his performances, and made the heel bands for his ankles. Mark would swing from the trapeze, and at the highest point, fall from it and catch himself by nothing but his ankles. He refused to use a net, and only once did this nearly end his life as he fell from what was to him just a routine performance. I spent an entire summer once, as a child, at the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI just to see him perform. I didn't miss a single day. After he left the Baraboo Circus, he went on to perform in Germany. He did the same act there as he had done from the Big Top, with one exception; he did it from a helecopter. We found out a few years later that he ended up back in the states, and was living and performing in Florida. We wrote letters and e-mails, and until recent had recieved responses from Mark occassionally. We learned Wednesday of his death. On Saturday, the thirteenth of September, the great Mark David Pilger, Uncle Markie, had passed away from leukemia. He will be greatly missed.

9/20/2008 7:11 PM  

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