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.

My Photo
Name:
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!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

BACK STAGE AT THE "FOLLIES":

MELBA MOORE, WITH JOANNE & JUMPER

NEWS FROM CLOWN ALLEY.NET


THIS WAS POSTED ON PAT CASHIN'S "CLOWN ALLEY. NET, THIS MORNING, SO LET'S ALL HOPE FOR JOE'S SPEEDY RECOVERY.


I wanted to let you know that Joe Vani, (Joe Sherman of the Sherman Brothers) is ill and in the hospital in Cincinnati. He suffered a broken hip and has been moving between the hospital and a nursing home. A bout with pneumonia brought him back to the hospital yet again.

Joe will be 95 this year on June 12th. He's at Bethesda North Hospital on Montgomery Rd. in Cincy.


I'm sure Joe would love to get some cards and letters.

His home address is:

Joe Vani
29 Tabaleen Lane
Milford, OH 45150

The address at the hospital is:

Mr. Joe Vani
Bethesda North Hospital
10500 N Montgomery Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45242

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

SNAPSHOTS: THROUGH THE YEARS

TREVOR BALE & CFA MEMBER DICK ADAMS
James Bros. Circus, Dayton, O. 1969

SNAPSHOTS: THROUGH THE YEARS #2

THE FLYING APOLLOS
Danny, Francine, & Phil Schacht, and Dennis Sherman, date unknown.

SNAPSHOTS:THROUGH THE YEARS #3

EVANSVILLE 1978(?)
Lou Ann Jacobs, The Navarros, Daryll Wallen, & Trudy Strong

SNAPSHOTS: THROUGH THE YEARS #4

THE PHAROAHS
This is Sioux Falls, SD, either Gil Gray 1963, or Dobritch Int. Circus, 1964.

THE PHAROAHS
In front of Emanuel Zacchini's Cannon, Dobritch Int. Circus, Cleveland, O. 1964

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

FROM RAY MACMAHON: NEW SHOWFOLKS WEB SITE

NEW WEB SITE FOR SHOWFOLKS GREAT JOB BY LEE KETSHUM THE NEW ADDRESS====HOPE YOU CAN PUT THIS ON THE BLOG THANKS RAY MACMAHON

SHOWFOLKSCLUB.COM

I wish I could put a link to it but I still haven't mastered that yet. I'm sure Buckles will have one that will take you directly there.

I don't know about anyone else, but I've had no results at all!!!!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

THE LORD OF THE RING: GUNTHER,,,,GEBEL,,,,WILLIAMS

NEED I SAY MORE
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CIRCUS KRONE WINTER QUARTERS, MUNICH, GERMANY

This morning we're going back about ten years, & jump over to Circus Krone at their Munich Winter Quarters, they're bringing Suzanne Chipperfields Exotic Animals to the backstage area to get them ready for the show. That's Suzanne in the white sweatshirt, & Jana Mandana in the black one. If you look quick you'll see a couple familliar faces, starting off with a cameo appearance by Shawn,aka "Dog", Quinn.

PART ONE
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PART TWO
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Friday, February 22, 2008

QUASSAR'S QUIZ: MYSTERY CLOWN

This is more than a quiz, I have been obsessed with this clown's identity for several years, you would think with such a unique make up, & being on the shows he is pictured on so often, someone would recognize him.

Downie Bros. 1928.

With Paul Jerome, also Downie, '28.



Both of these pics are Hagenbeck-Wallace 1931.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

CIRCO ATAYDE HERMANOS ELEFANTES

Here are the Circus Atayde Elephants, presented by Naida, & Ramon Esqueda Jr., Naida is the daughter of Vanda, & Johnny Joanides.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

FOR CATHARINA GASSER: THE HAWTHORN TIGERS, PRESENTED BYJOHN CAMPOLONGO

I received an email from Catharina Gasser, who works Lions on Circus Mundial in Spain, she enjoys the Cat Acts so here is another for her. John Campolongo in Taiwan working one of the Hawthorn acts, in 1998.

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ONE HAND ON THE HEAD: ANOTHER ONE FROM THE TOVARICH FAMILY.

In Nov. 2007, I posted a video of a Cradle Act, The Three Evas, which consisted of Eva Tovarich & two of her daughters, recently I posted The Tovarich Trio, they are Eva's two sons, & one daughter. Here is a short clip of another act from this talented family. video

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

VAUDEVILLE DOG ACT: HECTOR & HIS PALS

I think as late as the fifties they were trying to revive Vaudeville. I remember a show that came to my hometown called "The Best Is Yet To Come" Here's a cute little dog act from a 1950's era, maybe some one out there knows who it is. (I received an email from Stacy Moore that his cousin Bob identifies this act as, "Hector & His Pals".)

BLEW THE ARROWS

For some unknown reason Blogger sloughed the two movie clips, "mine is not to reason why,etc."

Here's a little fill in from the 1930's.

WHIRL, TWIRL, & A GIRL

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

FOR DICK FLINT: THE THREE BARS

I received an email from Dick Flint, asking the difference between a Bar Act, & a Casting Act. The next day while researching some items for "The Dime's Store", I stumbled onto this article in the Bandwagon files. It's rather long but interesting, as it touches on the lack of true appreciation for what many old timers still say is the toughest act in the business. It is especially to an old ex "hoe handler" like me, and it talks of tricks that I only dreamed of doing.

Unless I missed something, it doesn't mention the "Flifla", which was a "fly-over" from one bar to the next, with a somersault added, to my knowledge it was accomplished by only two people, Ignacio Ibarra, & Pablo Rodriquez.

THE THREE BARS #1:

Truth or Fiction, Legend or Fact
By Pierre Couderc. Bandwagon, Vol. 8, No. 6 (Nov-Dec), 1964, pp. 15-18, 23-24.
"This act which we have just witnessed, with others of varying characters, requires for its execution technical perfection as well as super-physical qualities in the performer beyond that demanded by any and all forms of art; for life and limb are involved as well as pride of professional of artistic accomplishment." - Irving K. Pond

The Three Bars (Les Barres Fixes)

Obviously the above quotation is applicable to all circus performers. But it becomes even more relevant - almost axiomatic - regarding the artists who perform that most difficult and most hazardous branch of acrobatics named: The Three Bars!


It is indeed deplorable that this speciality, which once was considered a standard attraction on all circus programs, has been steadily falling into decadence.

Though still considered by pros and connoisseurs as "the acme" of circus ring artistry, the three bars are seldom seen nowadays. Once upon a time there were literally countless triple bar acts flooding every circus ring here and abroad. Today only a mere handful can be found performing this old acrobatic standard.

Why? What are the reasons for this deplorable decline?

Two of the more obvious factors can be cited:

1. the uninitiated spectator, rarely aware of the intricacies involved in this type of performance, lacks a proper sense of appreciation.

2. the performer, aware of this lack of appreciation, has found it more rewarding to devote himself to much less exigent fields - such as the flying trapezes or teeterboard, either of which always trigger more applause than the best of bar acts.

Perhaps, to a degree, our circus historians and chroniclers can be held accountable for this lack of appreciation from the average spectator. For some strange reason difficult to fathom, most of our circus writers have always devoted a disproportionate amount of space extolling the feats of the flying trapezist, while sadly neglecting those of the barrist who, ironically, is by far the greatest of the two artists.

For those who may be inclined to scoff at the above contention, it can be pointed out that almost any barrist can switch over to the fly-bar and, in a relatively short time, become an accomplished performer in that speciality. Inversely, only a very few of the trapezists were ever able to switch over to the bars without spending months - and even years - of gruelling practice.

Famous barrists such as Phillip Shevette, Enrico Diaz, Raoul Monbar, The Ibarra Bros., The Ivanoffs, (also known as Pavlovs) and many others experienced no difficulty in adjusting to the differences of tempo, timing, rhythm and detentes in order to become proficient on the fly-bar. However, just how many trapezists can be named who became experts on the triple bars?

Audiences' preference for the trapezist over the barrist is understandable. The height and length of the trapeze trajectories are not only more spectacular than those of the barrist but also more graceful, creating the impression that it is more daring, more difficult and more aesthetic. The truth is: Almost every routine of the barrist is not only much more difficult to perform but also much more dangerous.

On the bars, the performer can no longer depend on the swing of the trapeze to furnish him the momentum with which to launch himself into the air. Here, he must generate his own momentum out of his own muscular strength. On the trapeze, "timing" depends mostly on the "whip" of the legs, back and neck. On the bars, not only those same "whips" are also necessary (though sharper and faster) but the barrist must include other complexities such as the pulls and pushes from the arms, and abrupt stops from the wrists and forearms, all of which require the muscles, sinews, and stamina of a super athlete.

Of all the various phases of acrobatics, none can be named that present so many difficulties, ruggedness and danger. Alfred Court, "barrist emeritus", once succinctly but aptly described it: "Being a barrist is a painful occupation." Indeed it is! Artistry on the three bars is difficult because any and all timings, reflexes and detentes must be executed with such precision that they require years of practice. It is also true that, with the bars, a performer must be endowed with more than just muscular strength and agility. Besides those two important attributes, the barrist must also possess: a will of iron, nerves of steel, and instantaneous reflexes from which follow instantaneous detentes.

On the trapeze, a flyer's rhythm, tempo and timing flow relatively "moderato"; on the bars, these have to be at least "allegreto" - and at times even "veloce". Indeed the barrist must possess many attributes -including an utter contempt for danger! When a fly-trap leaper misses his catch, usually the only injury he suffers is to his professional pride, for he lands safely (at least most often) in the net beneath. But when a barrist launches himself into a pass from the 1st to 3rd bar while turning a somersault over the 2nd, an error of a fraction of a second can spell serious injury and even death - for if he releases the bar too soon, he will be projected against the 2nd bar; and if he releases it too late, he will fall onto it from above.

Being a barrist is indeed a painful occupation. Technically, it is much more difficult than any other form of acrobatics because every somersault, whether a back or a forward, must be a "gainer" and/or, when not a "gainer" it must be "counter-timed", which makes it even more difficult to execute.

After pondering over such intricacies, perhaps the circophile will begin to perceive how and why, in an era when most people are inclined to take the line of least resistance, the triple bar acts are swiftly disappearing from our circus programs. But even though the spectators will continue to applaud the trapezist and the historians and chroniclers will continue to extoll the latter's achievements, among professionals it is the barrist who will continue to be regarded as "the acme" of all circus artists!

Parenthetically, it should also be mentioned that, with the bars, some routines which sometimes look the most difficult may be the easiest and, vice-versa, others which may appear the simplest may be the most difficult and/or dangerous. For example: A pass from the 1st to 3rd bar with a back somersault is much more spectacular but less difficult than the same pass without the somersault, for the latter requires such a formidable "counter-timing" on the performer's part that only a few barrists such as Enrico Diaz and Alfred Court were able to execute it flawlessly.

Again, using the same pass as an illustration, a back somersault while passing from the 1st to 3rd bar is also more dangerous than doing it with a "half-twister" - though the latter appears more difficult. The single is more dangerous because if for any reason the performer lacks sufficient height while passing over the 2nd bar, he risks cracking his skull against that 2nd bar. With a "half-twist", the pass becomes somewhat like a long "fly-over", where in instead of catching the 2nd bar, the performer is able to catch the 3rd bar from underneath.

Because of the danger involved in all three types of passes from the 1st to 3rd bar, some performers use a dismountable 2nd bar, which is removed for this particular routine. Again, from the spectator's point of view, this removal of the 2nd bar enhances rather than lessens the effect, for it focuses the spectator's attention to the distance between the two end bars, making it appear more spectacular and seemingly more dangerous.

Our circus historians, past and present, are not in complete accord regarding the origin of the triple bar act. There are some who contend that Lauck & Fox created that speciality back in 1875 - and later were performing it in Paris in 1878. Others claim that the team of Berli, Leach & Foster originated it in England around 1864; while still others credit the Hanlon Bros. for the innovation at some earlier date.

Which of these - if any - is correct is not of much consequence. Feats on the horizontal bar date back to the antiquity of Athens and Rome. Whoever was first in lumping three horizontal bars together is not of much import. The point of importance is that artistry on the triple bars requires more physical ability, skill, intelligence, determination and showmanship than any other phase of acrobatics - to say nothing of years of strenuous and arduous practice.

As mentioned before, once upon a time there were countless barrists risking life and limb performing on the bars. At the beginning most of the routines consisted of straight swings, seat-jumps, step-offs, etc. Then gradually followed the greater evolutions such as the belly and giant-swing passes, some with back and/or forward somersaults, other with full twisters. Eventually came the series of "banolas" ("fly-overs"), combinations of passes including old and new wrinkles, finally culminating with the passes from the 1st to 3rd bar, with final "break-aways" (fly-aways) either with "lay-out" singles or double backs or double forwards to the ground. Artists such as Alfred Court, Andres Atayde and some of the old masters would have considered themselves second rate performers had they terminated every one of their routines with less than a double to the ground.

To compile a roster of all the barrists who performed during the era between the late 1800's and early 1900's would fill pages. But, from the so many, perhaps the cream of the crop ought to be mentioned. In Europe were such renown numbers as the Egeltons, Luppus, Marcous, Dionnes, Huggossets, Fernandezes, Poppescus, Avolos, Jupiters and many more too numerous to list. In the States were such remarkable performers as the Dunhams, Van Aukens, Eugenes, Ashton Bros., Nelson & Hill, Newell & Shevette, Worland Trio, Lemoyne Bros. and a host of others also too numerous to mention.

Out of this multitude of barrists must be singled out one extraordinary bar act which appeared during the 1910 period with the Barnum & Bailey and other circuses of the States. These were: the Loretta Twins! They were indeed extraordinary - because they were girls! Not only were they young, petite and attractive, but these two feminine performers could execute the same difficult routines as the very best of the males!

This no doubt would have been a shock to the famous Alfred Court who always contended: "- the horizontal bars is one phase of acrobatics forbidden to the weaker sex, because it is too difficult, too arduous and too dangerous."

There is more truth than poetry to Court's sagacious contention. Even among the males it isn't every performer that is endowed with all the necessary attributes to become a master barrist. In other fields there have been a few female performers who succeeded in equaling the males - as has been proven by such brilliant artists as May Wirth on a rosinback, Antoinette Concello on the fly-traps, Ala Naito on the wire, and Lillian Lietzel on the rings. But when it comes to the three bars, Court's contention holds true - except for that rare exeception: The Loretta Twins, who could duplicate any routine executed by any man, including the pass from the 1st to 3rd bar, followed by a double to the ground!

THE LORETTA TWINS, PAULINE LEFT AND ORA NORINE IN 1914 WHILE WITH BARNUM & BAILEY CIRCUS.
PHOTO: FROM THE FRANK ROBIE COLLECTION.

How those two girls - then only in their 20's - ever acquired the skill, rhythm, strength and stamina to perform such feats is incredible! Had Alfred Court ever seen those Loretta Twins perform, he would have been bug-eyed!

THE THREE BARS #2:

From among so many barrists it was inevitable that imagination would eventually create many innovations. What with the flying trapezes evolving into vogue, the triple bar artists began inaugurating variations of their own such as: the "cradle" with a catcher set high either between two bars or in the place of the 3rd bar; the combination bar-and-trapeze, with such variations as bar-to trapeze-to-cradle passes; and the trampoline either under three bars and/or anyone of the cradle combinations.

Needles to say that any and all of those new variations made it possible for the barrists to execute many new spectacular routines! Nevertheless, when it came to public applause, the very best of them still could not compete with the trapezists. But then it was also inevitable that some imaginative barrist would eventually "reach for the moon" - by rigging his three bars high in the air over the same net used by the trapezists. Thus came the birth of the aerial bars!

Who was the first barrist to conceive this innovation has never been settled with any degree of certainty. European historians are inclined to credit Avolos, while their American colleagues claim that as far back as 1891, such acts as Petit, McVey & Ryan, Primrose & Pickett and Dunham & Marlo were already presenting the aerial bars in the States, as high as 20 feet above a net stretched 10 feet above ground.

It would be difficult to dispute either claim, for the existing documentation is too fragmentary to ascertain who did what and when - and a present day research of the chronicles of three quarters of a century ago also fails to disclose anything relevant that would verify the facts and/or discard the fiction.

Only one major fact has been ascertained. After the first aerial bar act had made its initial appearance, it was but a short time later that a veritable host of imitators moved their three bars from terra firma to higher and higher riggings over a net. Some like Trojan Luppu, Vermette & Dionne, Vlademir Poppescu and Rudolf Egelman remained "purists" of the original art.

But many others added routines with the "cradle" to their repertoires. At one time, the Luppus extended their rigging to as many as 9 bars. Much later, the Ibarra Bros. went to 5 bars - with 2 of them straddling above the 3 below. In between, the Avolos had even gone to the extreme of setting up some of their bars vertically!

Perhaps the most sensational combination of aerial display was the one created by Alfred Court, then known as The Egeltons. Around 1907, when Alfred and his brother Jules presented their first circus in Marseilles, he organized what can be labelled the most complicated aerial rigging ever witnessed above a circus ring!

In the very center of the rigging were the customary 3 bars, plus a catcher's cradle at each end. From the one cradle, the Jupiters did their routines, while the Egeltons simultaneously duplicated the same routines from the other cradle. From the 3 center bars, both Alfred Court and Alfred Lexton also executed their peerless feats, plus a number of passes from the end bars to their respective catchers on the cradles. Whatever has ever been accomplished on the triple bars and/or the cradle, all six of those remarkable barrists executed any and all of the most difficult routines with the precision of masters! - which each was.

But to further enhance the display, the flying trapezes of The 3 Rainats were also rigged crosswise of the bars, making their flying passes under the bars! To top all this, Madame Rainat and La Corsari, two attractive aerialists, did single traps routines above the other 9 performers! To this day, there never has been such a display of variety put together into one single aerial act! And when one considers the artistry of each of the 11 performers, this was indeed the most sensational aerial act ever displayed!

From among so many barrists it was inevitable that imagination would eventually create many innovations. What with the flying trapezes evolving into vogue, the triple bar artists began inaugurating variations of their own such as: the "cradle" with a catcher set high either between two bars or in the place of the 3rd bar; the combination bar-and-trapeze, with such variations as bar-to trapeze-to-cradle passes; and the trampoline either under three bars and/or anyone of the cradle combinations.

Needles to say that any and all of those new variations made it possible for the barrists to execute many new spectacular routines! Nevertheless, when it came to public applause, the very best of them still could not compete with the trapezists. But then it was also inevitable that some imaginative barrist would eventually "reach for the moon" - by rigging his three bars high in the air over the same net used by the trapezists. Thus came the birth of the aerial bars!

Who was the first barrist to conceive this innovation has never been settled with any degree of certainty. European historians are inclined to credit Avolos, while their American colleagues claim that as far back as 1891, such acts as Petit, McVey & Ryan, Primrose & Pickett and Dunham & Marlo were already presenting the aerial bars in the States, as high as 20 feet above a net stretched 10 feet above ground.

It would be difficult to dispute either claim, for the existing documentation is too fragmentary to ascertain who did what and when - and a present day research of the chronicles of three quarters of a century ago also fails to disclose anything relevant that would verify the facts and/or discard the fiction.

Only one major fact has been ascertained. After the first aerial bar act had made its initial appearance, it was but a short time later that a veritable host of imitators moved their three bars from terra firma to higher and higher riggings over a net. Some like Trojan Luppu, Vermette & Dionne, Vlademir Poppescu and Rudolf Egelman remained "purists" of the original art.

But many others added routines with the "cradle" to their repertoires. At one time, the Luppus extended their rigging to as many as 9 bars. Much later, the Ibarra Bros. went to 5 bars - with 2 of them straddling above the 3 below. In between, the Avolos had even gone to the extreme of setting up some of their bars vertically!

Perhaps the most sensational combination of aerial display was the one created by Alfred Court, then known as The Egeltons. Around 1907, when Alfred and his brother Jules presented their first circus in Marseilles, he organized what can be labelled the most complicated aerial rigging ever witnessed above a circus ring!

In the very center of the rigging were the customary 3 bars, plus a catcher's cradle at each end. From the one cradle, the Jupiters did their routines, while the Egeltons simultaneously duplicated the same routines from the other cradle. From the 3 center bars, both Alfred Court and Alfred Lexton also executed their peerless feats, plus a number of passes from the end bars to their respective catchers on the cradles. Whatever has ever been accomplished on the triple bars and/or the cradle, all six of those remarkable barrists executed any and all of the most difficult routines with the precision of masters! - which each was.

But to further enhance the display, the flying trapezes of The 3 Rainats were also rigged crosswise of the bars, making their flying passes under the bars! To top all this, Madame Rainat and La Corsari, two attractive aerialists, did single traps routines above the other 9 performers! To this day, there never has been such a display of variety put together into one single aerial act! And when one considers the artistry of each of the 11 performers, this was indeed the most sensational aerial act ever displayed!

PHILLIP SHEVETTE, CLAUDE NEWELL, & ZENOBLE SHEVETTE, KNOWN AS THE ORLOFF BROS. AS THEY APPEARED IN THE LATE 1890s IN EUROPE AND THE UNITED STATES.
PHOTO COURTESY OF RAYMOND MELZORA.

THE THREE BARS #3: CONCLUSION

Whether on the ground or high above the net, there have been many outstanding bar acts - especially during the first 4 decades of the century. It would be difficult to forget such peerless artists as Newell & Shevette, the Dionnes, Egeltons, Dimitrescus, Luppus and Poppescus; or the Peerless-Potters, Los Hermanos Atayde, and their equally famous relatives, the Ibarra Bros. - each of the last three mentioned having been at one time or other declared "the Codonas of the three bars."

But alas! All of those fabulous performers belong to the yesteryears - and today there is hardly a handful to take their places. Today one can count on one hand the number of bar acts which are worthy of mention - though not a single one of them could begin to compare with their predecessors. During the past decade can only be listed as worthy of Mention: The 3 Dinats, The 5 Petroffs, The Olvera Trio, The 7 Ivanoffs, The Maskatan Trio, The 4 Tschiskys, and The 5 Rodriguezes. We must exclude the 3 Ibarra Bros. from the list, inasmuch as, since switching to the flying traps, they no longer perform on the bars.

Among the modern chroniclers there are some who have reported that the Dinats are in a class with the Peerless-Potters; also that either the Maskatan Trio and the Olvera Trio can be favorably compared with the Ibarras. But such flowery reports have to be considered on the basis of the reporter's knowledge of the art. To be sure, any and all of the above named acts were good. In fact, today they can be considered outstanding. But among professionals who know the difference between adequacy and excellence, it would be difficult to find anyone who could consider any of those modern barrists in the same class as a Shevette, Diaz, Egelton, Dionne, Atayde, Ibarra, and many of the past masters.

During the past 3 or 4 years, each time the Russian Circus has presented the 5 Nikolayevs, either in the States or in Europe, chroniclers have written reams of superlatives about that "flashy" circular bar number - extolling the accomplishments of those Soviet performers as though they were out of this world. But such glowing reports represent more fiction than facts. The truth is: either those chroniclers don't know a good barrist from a bad one; or they were so dazzled by the whirlwind novelty that their better judgment gave way to their emotions.

There is no question that the Nikolayevs are "crowd-pleasers," and that the act is a welcome and worthwhile novelty. And no one can deny that when those performers go into their rapid finale, it does dazzle audiences. But thundering plaudits aren't always the hallmark of a performer's artistry - as can be attested by the success of The Beatles. As far as audiences are concerned, both The Beatles and the Nikolayevs are huge successes! - but that doesn't necessarily stamp either of them as "artists", per se.

When it comes to artistry on the horizontal bars, to consider The Nikolayevs in a class with such past masters as Shevette, Egelton, Luppu, Atayde or Ibarra, is almost sacreligious! Novelty, speed and stamina they have. But these can never take the place of performing excellence, artistic elegance and aesthetic form. Why there are today countless amateurs whose performance on the bars eclipse that of the best of the Nikolayevs! Matter of fact, it is doubtful if any one of the Nikolayevs could win a bronze medal at the Olympics!

By now it is almost inevitable that the reader will be asking: From among the multitude of barrists that have performed during the past century, which of the virtuosos can be considered "The King?" Also: which ones of the so many succeeded in executing the triple?

Unlike the flying traps where Alfredo Codona was almost unanimously called "The King" (and he still is considered so by many) no barrist has ever been regarded as such by his peers. For anyone to attempt to single out one performer as "The King of Barrists" would probably start an international controversy of such magnitude as that which occurred during the early 1930's regarding the leapers from the big springboard.

Among professionals there are varying opinions as to which of the past and present artists could be considered the greatest of barrists - for while many excelled in one phase or other, none was perfect in all phases. For example, Carpati, Dionne and Avolo were masters in their flawlessly execution of consecutive backs from bar-to-bar; Marcou was reknown for creating his "banalos" (fly-overs) and executing these in series with perfect form; Diaz was the greatest with the simple pass from 1st to 3rd, which requires such a formidable "countertiming"; Shevette and Court were famous for their dazzling, whirlwind combinations of passes and spectacular break-aways (fly-aways) with never anything less than doubles; Ignacio Ibarra for his flawless forwards from and to the same bar; Andres Atayde for his spectacular double from the 1st to 3rd bar; Luppu, Popescu and others, each for his particular speciality.

In short, while a dozen or so of the barrists of the past and present are rightfully entitled to the title of "great", not one of them can rightfully qualify to be considered "The King" - for none ever rose to such heights as to overshadow all others.

Some think that Andres Atayde and/or Phil Shevette deserve the honor because they are the only barrists who ever succeeded in passing from the 1st to 3rd bar with a double somersault, a feat considered more fiction than fact by most professionals. When Court was quizzed about this subject some years ago, he skeptically observed: "It's possible - but I would like to see it done."

The fact remains that it was done by Phil Shevette, (Newell & Shevette) as a regular routine presented at every performance during the month of May, 1896, when that team of barrists were billed at the Paris Folies Bergere. Also in 1892 at Woods' Gymnasium in New York City - during a contest between famous bar acts of that period.

Photo: THE ANDRES ATAYDE BAR ACT OF THE EARLY 1920'S, AS SHOWN IN THE 1946 ATAYDE CIRCUS PROGRAM.
PFENING COLLECTION.

This almost insuperable feat was also accomplished publicly and often during the years 1925 to 1928 by Andres Atayde (Atayde Bros.) when the latter was in his late teens in the early 20's - both in Europe and the Latin American countries. European circophiles of the 1927 period had an opportunity to witness the virtuosity of the Atayde Bros. when they performed in Lisbon, Madrid, Paris and other circuses of England, Italy, and the Scandinavian countries. Unfortunately, American circophiles were denied this privilege, for the Ataydes, somehow or other, never appeared in the States.

As of now, no other barrist has ever duplicated the feat - and it is doubtful that, considering the trends of modern times, any apprentice would be willing to submit himself to such a rigorous ordeal. But while the memory of either Phil Shevette or Andres Atayde performing this seemingly impossible feat lingers in the mind of those who happen to remember, it should be brought to mind that Aurelio Atayde, Andres' older brother, was even a greater barrist! The latter was not only a flawless performer, but his stamina and timing was prodigious! There was a time when he could consecutively execute as many as 40 "fly-overs" (banalds) without missing a beat! And while extolling the artistry of barrists, one must also list Patricia Atayde, sister of the Atayde Bros., who, like the Loretta Twins, was one female performed who could hold her own with most of the males!

Be that as it may, neither Phil Shevette's and/or the Ataydes' achievements, as outstanding as they are, would qualify either to be labelled "The King". To be sure, they were great. But not that much greater than a dozen or so others. And when it comes to listing those who succeeded in executing the triple from the three bars, the task is simplified because, incredible as it seems, actually only one barrist ever accomplished the feat as an integrated part of his regular performance.

It is true that Alfred Court (The Egeltons) when in his prime practiced the triple assidiously and daily for a period extending more than 6 months and covering more than 4000 attempts. To quote Court's own words from an excerpt on the subject: ". . . I practiced the triple with the 'mechanic', of course - at least a dozen times daily for more than 6 months. Towards the last I was able to successfully turn it on an average of 10 times out of 12 with the 'mechanic' completely slack. However, there were always those 2 or 3 times when, if it hadn't been for the 'mechanic', I would have killed myself. Therefore, I can never really say that I did the triple no more than can any other barrist or trapezist who has never mastered it sufficiently to execute it regularly as part of his daily routines in front of an audience."

The above quotation is a refreshing revelation. Coming from a "Marseillais" (most of whom are usually compared to Texans because of their natural tendency to brag) it could be called the epitomy of modesty. It also proves that the truly great artist is usually his own severest critic, who can afford to spurn any honor which he feels he doesn't deserve.

Court's commendable example must have set a precedent for the barrist fraternity, because such eminent artists as the Luppus, Egelmans, Poppescus, Ataydes, Ibarras, etc., have always refrained from claiming to have done the triple - even though it has been ascertained that, at one time or other, they, like Court, had succeeded in executing it in practice but never in public.

Nevertheless, one performer did itpublicly though not regularly at every performance. When Newell & Shevette appeared at the Paris Folies Bergere in 1896; and also before that when presenting their "bar and casting" act known as "The Orlos", Philip Shevette would, when feeling fit, often do the triple "fly-away" from the end bar. However, it must be pointed out that said bar from which Shevette executed the triple was set a foot higher than the conventional height - thereby increasing the space for his trajectory.

It is quite possible that if Court and some of our other famous barrists had duplicated Shevette's bar-height, they, too, might have been able to execute the triple publicly. The fact remains that, for the record, Phillip Shevette is the one and only barrist that can be recorded as having executed the triple from the bars.

Before concluding this installment on the bars, one has to pause and mention the triple from the "casting cradle" - which cannot be categorized either as a flying trapeze number - or a bar act. And, inasmuch as in one instance the execution of the triple included the use of a horizontal bar and a catch-trap, this particular one doesn't fall into the casting act category, either.

If the records are correct, the first triple ever done from either a fly-bar and/or a horizontal bar, was executed in 1905 by Dennis Sturk, in an act known as Sport Zeno's "Flying Through Space." This was a combination bar and trapeze number, in which Dennis Sturk, an outstanding barrist, did execute various routines on the horizontal bar anchored at the one end of a flying trapeze rigging. Incredible as it may sound today, Dennis Sturk, after executing a series of giant swings on the horizontal bar, would launch himself into a triple - to Zeno, hanging from the trap, catching the triple into a wrist-to-wrist catch!

Also, in that special category named the "casting act", wherein catchers hanging from "cradles" (usually set about 15 feet over a trampoline) send and catch their flyers from one to the other, should be mentioned "The 4 Casting Wonders". During the years 1922-23, the catchers on the two cradles were the Garee Brothers, Paul and Al; their leapers were Jess Detweiller and Harold Bennett. For two years, regularly and at every performance, Jess Detweiller executed the triple from the hands of Paul Garee to the hands of his brother, Al - making a wrist-to-wrist catch!

Two years later, during 1924-25, "The Casting Stars", consisting of Joe Kuntz and Jim McCall as catchers and Tommy Davis and Tommy Burke as flyers, also duplicated the feat!

Likewise during that same period came "The Casting Luckens", with the youngest, Roy Luckens, executing the triple between the hands of his older brothers, Harry and Gus!

Whether on the three bars or the casting act, there is no performer executing the triple these days. Perhaps some day there will appear over the circus horizon a "phenomenon" who will duplicate Shevette's feat from the horizontal bar - even without the extra height - and prove to the modern circophile that turning a triple from the three bars is not an impossible feat. But when one considers the present stage of decadence and also the ever-dwindling number of performers dedicating themselves to that particular phase of acrobatics, one can but ruefully conclude: "That'll be the day!"

In the meanwhile, we can only hope for a rennaissance of the triple bars - and pay homage to the many fine artists of the past and present who possessed the courage, determination, patience and endurance to master the order of rhythm out of which emerged performances of such perfection that they could conscientiously present them to the consideration of an oft-times unappreciative audience. And even though no barrist may again master the triple, may every circophile cherish the memory of those artists who no longer grace the circus ring with their presence, and may he show his appreciation of those who are still performing by giving them the generous applause they deserve.

HERE IS ANOTHER DIAGRAM I HAD FORGOTTEN I HAD IN MY FILES, THIS IS THE MORALES FAMILY.

Monday, February 11, 2008

BENDOVA

Many people don't realize that the first stunt Joseph Spah, aka Bendova, did upon entering the United States, was to jump from the burning Hindenburg at Lakehurst, New Jersey.

THE TOVARICH TRIO

One of the boys in this act, I believe the understander is Nicolai Tovarich, now the "Ringmaster",(Sprecher) for Circus Krone. To explain, in Germany the Ringmaster is actually the Prop Boss, & the "Sprecher", is the "Announcer", however, in this case, Nicolai handles both positions, and quite well!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

THE SUNDAY MOVIE: CONTINUING THE WEEKEND OF WILD ANIMAL ACTS, OUR FIRST FEATURE, JOHN COX WITH THE HAWTHORN GOLD TIGERS

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WILD ANIMAL ACT #2: RIX BEARS

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Friday, February 08, 2008

THIS WEEK BOTH THE SATURDAY MATINEE, & THE SUNDAY MOVIE WILL BE DEDICATED TO A WILD ANIMAL ACT JAMBOREE: STARTING WITH ALLAN GOLD

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WILD ANIMAL ACT #2: WAYNE FRANZEN

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WILD ANIMAL ACT # 3: ANDRE SKARBECKI

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

DO YOU REMEMBER????: ELDRIDGE PARK, ELMIRA NEW YORK

How many of you remember this one, Eldridge Park was one of those little small town Amusement Parks where, like "Cheers", everyone knew your name. They didn't even have a fence around it, and every night the benches were full of people watching the movie & then the acts, friendly people who every once in a while would bring you an apple pie, or chocolate cake, to show their appreciation.

How many times can you say,"Those were the days"




FROM KIM SUE & VLASTEK, ON BILLY MARTIN'S "COLE ALL STAR", SOMEWHERE NEAR THE NORTH POLE

BRRRRRRRR!!!!


OTHER SIDE OF BRRRRRRRR!!!!


VINCENT
Did you ever make "Angels" in the snow? I'd rather make them in the sand,,,,on the Beach!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

BAREBACK BRIDLELESS REINING HORSE: RIDDEN BY STACY WESTFALL

It may not be Circus but I've been getting it for days in emails so I might as well share it in case you haven't seen it yet, it is awsome.

Monday, February 04, 2008

IN MEMORY: TOMMY COOPER

I have no details yet but just got word that Master Show Painter, Tommy Cooper passed away yesterday.( Sunday, January 3, 2008)

THE JOHN ROBINSON CIRCUS,,,, SEASON, 1923

THE ROUTE BOOK

JOHN ROBINSON #2: A POEM BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

JOHN ROBINSON #3: THE BIG SHOW BAND

Under the direction of Musical Director,,,,
EDWARD A. WOECKENER

JOHN ROBINSON #4: ABE GOLDSTIEN, "SLIVERS" JOHNSON, & THE RUDYNOFFS

In case your old eyes are worn out from trying for years to read the fine print in CPA contracts, this is, left to right, Rudy Rudynoff, "Slivers" Johnson, Erma Rudynoff, Ola Darragh, & Mary Bedini.

THE RUDYNOFFS

JOHN ROBINSON #5: CAST & CREW

JOHN ROBINSON #6 CHEERFUL & BABE GARDNER

Sunday, February 03, 2008

JIM A., U AXTED 4 IT: FROM PENNY RODRIGUEZ, THE ST LEON'S KNOCK-ABOUT TABLE ACT, "THE SIX SAILORS"

I still remember "seven", but no matter, this was one those acts that went non stop, from start to finish, with everyone in the act doing something all the time, it personified the expression, "it ain't over till it's over"!!!!

The faces I recognize are Bobby Hines,(left, sitting on table); Mickey Rodriguez,(in the air behind the table); Clyde, or Norman,(I never could remember which was which, in the air on the right); he's getting ready to slide feet first & knock Bobby off the table. When we worked on shows together, Raul Hoffman was also in the act.

THE SHOWFOLKS OF SARASOTA INSTALLATION DINNER

Last night was the installation dinner for the incoming officers for "Showfolks", here are some pics from "Paparazzo" Penny of some of the attendees.
ARLENE MORRIS & MARY RUTH HERRIOTT

DINNER #2: THE DUBSKIS

Harry "Hashi" Jr. & his lovely wife Stephanie Chapman Dubski

DINNER #3: WIENER & LESLIE

Two lovely ladies Christine "Wiener" Herriott Plunkett, & Leslie Young Hernandez

DINNER #4: PAST PRESIDENT DALE LONGMIRE

With the lovely Tina Scott Winn

Dale,,,,you look great!!!!

DINNER #5: HALF & HALF DRAWING

Dorita Estes

DINNER #6: ALBERTO ZOPPE

Here is Alberto with his youngest daughter, Tosca and with Penny Wilson Rodriguez.


Penny worked in Alberto's Riding Act in the 1950's.

DINNER #7: THE NEW PRESIDENT & THE BOARD

Here's incoming President Mauella Torres & the new Board of Directors, Myrna Murillo, John Winn, & Leslie Young Hernandez, Delilah Donaho, Tony Bartok, Netta McMahan, Sharon ?, & Derrick Rosaire

Saturday, February 02, 2008

BACK STAGE AT THE " PALM SPRINGS FOLLIES": THE FOUR ACES

From Joanne's telephone to my computer, man ain't technology somethin'????

Here's Joanne & Jumper with the fabulous singing group, "THE FOUR ACES" Danny Colingo, Fred Diodati, Joe Giglio, & Harry Heisler.

THE FOUR ACES

LET'S ALL GO TO THE MOVIES: HERE IS THIS WEEKS SATURDAY MATINEE,

Starting this morning off with a nice little show, owned by one of the hardest working men I ever saw, who was taken from us much too soon. We miss you Wayne!

FRANZEN BROS. CIRCUS
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From the Kent Ghirard collection.

Friday, February 01, 2008

THE FEATURE: AUSTRALIAN KNOCK ABOUT ACT,

This is another act I first saw in the Circus Krone Winter Program in the '90's.
They came to me one day with a letter from an agent they never heard of, by the name of Gil Miller, he wanted them to play a date in a town they never heard of, by the name of Branson, MO., & wanted to know if I knew anything about Gil or the engagement. I assured them that they had nothing to worry about, that Gil was a good agent, & it was a good date, and advised them to take it. I received a card from them later thanking me for the advice, they were there for two years.

PRICE & McCOY