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!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

FOR DICK FLINT: AERIAL BARS & AERIAL CASTING

I know this is a bit of a rehash but Dick once asked me the difference between a Bar Act, & a Casting Act, here are some examples. First are three versions of Aerial Bars.

THE LA BLONDES-THREE BARS
Idlewilde Park, Legonier, PA, mid '50's.


CHARLEY FOREST-FOUR BARS
Unknown time & place


THE RODRIGUEZ TROUPE-FIVE BARS
Fleckles Thrill Circus, Navy Pier, Chicago, '70's.

Even though I described the HANEL TROUPE,(one bar & a cradle),as a Casting Act, here is a true Aerial Casting Act.
THE GREAT PEERLESS POTTERS
Greater Olympic Circus 1939.

THE FEERLESS POTTERS 1900
POSTER COURTESY OF DICK FLINT

More from Dick Flint:
Bill,
I've discovered that the Potter act of the 1930s was not a direct
continuation of the original Potter act. The earlier troupe was
trained by Harry Potter (1868-1941) who likely was the first to put
the casting act on high rigging enabling them to play the big
circuses. They used four people as shown in the 1900 poster I sent
you (Harry, Thomas, Roy, and Ella Potter) but in 1902 were joined by
the Fisher family of three, Anita Stirk, Marie Silbon, and a tenth
person (and there are posters showing this larger troupe as well).
The act faded out about 1908 but was revived in 1935 and on Cole Bros
in 1936 before playing fairs for a few more years. That's a 30+ year
hiatus so I doubt if any members of the original troupe participated
in the later group.

I should note that there was also the Dunham troupe of three who
appeared at the same time as the Potters but performed an aerial
"horizontal" bar act.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bill: Sorry if I seem dumb here, but I'm still confused! Is the Hanel's Act still considered a casting act? Even though they used a single cradle catcher and one horizontal bar? It looks like in the Potter's Act they have 3 catchers and a single higher horizontal bar between cathcher #2 and #3. Also, in the movie The Greatest Show on Earth, Colonel Wilde, which it's actually Fay Alexander, does a trapeze act with two trapezes and no catcher, but he includes some horizontal bar work that's part of the rigging as well. So technically, does a casting act differentiate from the others because there is at least one stationary catcher on a cradle in the act? And what would the act in the GSOE movie be called? Is it still considered a flying trapeze act even though there is no catcher? I also thought that early trapeze acts such as that by Jules Leotard, had two swinging trapezes that the single performer would leap between, but were there two boards, each at opposite ends of the rigging where assistants stood to catch and release the bars as in the GSOE movie? Thanks in advance for your expert clarification on these technicalities and details!
Neil Cockerline
Minneapolis, MN

1/15/2009 3:03 PM  
Blogger 24-HOUR-MAN said...

Hi Dick:
I guess realistically I would have describe the Hanel act as a "Casting Bar Act", Pete Ivanov did a similar act except with his bar acting talent I'm sure he used at least two bars, with a cradle catcher,(Jimmy Olsen), on the end. To further confuse the name thing, Eddie Murillo & Victor Gaona, did a bar to bar ground flying act that I have heard referred to as a "Low Casting Act". In that act someone kept the "catch bar" swinging with a rope attached to a small bar protruding from the top. The most practical way to do it in the air would be the pedastal on both ends with someone dropping bars, although an experienced flyer would have no problem taking time from a bar that was being swung remotely. One of the advantages of having a catcher is that an experienced one is often able to adjust his swing if the flyer is a little off time. Whether Leotard had two boards,,,, I'm afraid I can't help there. Hope this all helps.
Bill

1/15/2009 5:45 PM  
Blogger 24-HOUR-MAN said...

Hi Again Dick:
Re: the extra bar in the Potter Act, I have no idea how it was used, hopefully Frank Clark is looking in, I believe he knows that act.

Johnny Hartzell was great at additions to a Flying Act rigging, such as Horizontal Bars , or Diving Boards in the frame. One particular trick I remember was the "Passing Leap", the 1st flyer would go to the catcher, who would throw him in a half turn to a bar in the frame. The flyer would circle that bar & drop back to the fly bar just as the 2nd flyer left it to go to the catcher, he would then return swinging to pick up the 2nd flyer in the conventional way. I think Johnny would have really enjoyed watching some of the combination acts we have today.

Harold Voise used a "Diving Board", in the movie, "Story Of Three Loves", the trick was doing a dive from the diving board, through a paper covered hoop, into the hands of the catcher. I may be wrong but I think the catcher was Jimmy Olsen.
Bill

1/15/2009 6:41 PM  
Blogger 24-HOUR-MAN said...

My apology to Neil for adressing my last comments wrong,,,,shows how close I read sometimes.
Sorry to hear you won't make it down this Winter!!!!

1/17/2009 5:01 PM  
Anonymous Dick Flint said...

Thanks, Bill, for continuing to think of me with the additional explanations. I sure appreciate seeing the act photos.
I had a great visit with Joanne and Pee Wee and even got to see Chitty--delightful show with two great comics as the spies, a nice effect with the car flying, and dogs that get affectionate "awes" from the audience when they first appear and then laughs when they race across the stage!
Dick Flint
Baltimore

1/18/2009 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "casting act" described above by Eddie Murillo and Victor Gaona is a traditional Mexican act usually using three or four people and always at least one is a comic dressed as a clown or not. The rigging allows much business of being caught between traps and of course falls to a mat are included. While announced various ways it is referred to as "trapecios chicos" loosely "small flying act".
Mark Horton

1/19/2009 8:48 PM  
Blogger 24-HOUR-MAN said...

Hi Mark,
Thank You for your comment, it makes it all worth doing.

I was fortunate enough to work with Eddie, Eddie Jr. on the Gil Gray Circus in the early '60's, I never missed watching them work. I hadn't seen an act like it for years but I discovered a publicity flyer for one in some files I got from a booking agent. In fact if I can find it I will add it to this post.
Bill

1/19/2009 10:02 PM  

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