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!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

FROM RICHARD FLINT: MORE ON MARINELLI

Thanks for the fine photos you've posted Bill. It was once unusual to see a single performer do this trick but I've now seen a trio of Mongolians simultaneously do the Marinelli Bend (on Sterling & Reid a few years ago and brought to this country by a member of the Swiss circus Stey family who is now a Vegas agent).

The name is derived from German-born contortionist, H.B Marinelli (1864-1924), who made his debut as a 7-year old and came to the US in 1885 as the "Boneless Wonder." Marinelli became a booking agent in 1898 and his agency soon became one of the most important in the world with offices in New York City and throughout Europe. He brought the famous juggler Rastelli as well as British music hall star Harry Lauder to the US. As a performer, Marinelli's unique presentation moved the contortion act from the fairground or side show world into the better-paying sphere of vaudeville theatres or music halls. By offering higher pay to stars of the legit stage, he brought impressive names to the vaudeville circuit such as Lillie Langtry. On behalf of performers, in 1913 Marinelli tried unsuccessfully to break the grip of the vaudeville trust (the United Booking Office or UBO was run by the theatre managers themselves and caused the commission paid by artists to rise from 5 to 10 percent) using the Sherman Antitrust Act but the suit was eventually dismissed in 1924, the year he died in Patterson, NJ. Given his work on behalf of improving the employment opportunities of performers, it is appropriate that his name lives on with the Marinelli bend. While today the trick seems to include using the mouth grip, it is not clear if that has always been part of the trick or whether, historically, a Marinelli bend refers only to the extreme backbend. There is no evidence that Marinelli himself used a mouth grip. While even the facts of his life that I have outlined are difficult to document, it is even more difficult to document the evolution of tricks and acts, the heart of any show.

1 Comments:

Blogger Shawn Vinson said...

H.B. Marinelli is my great grandfather. My grandmother still has his scrapbook, which was compiled by his wife Violette - a French vaudeville singer. We also have a small photo album in good condition.
We're planning to digitize everything this year in hopes of publishing a book, and perhaps donate the original to an appropriate museum. Suggestions and feedback are welcomed.
all best,
Shawn Vinson
www.VinsonGallery.com

1/05/2009 11:51 AM  

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