Rin­gling Bros. cir­cus ends his­toric run

Windsor Star - - WEEKEND REVIEW -

1841: Phineas Tay­lor Bar­num buys Scud­der’s Amer­i­can Mu­seum in New York City and re­names it Bar­num’s Amer­i­can Mu­seum, some­thing of a zoo, mu­seum, lec­ture hall and freak show. The mu­seum later burned down.

1871: Bar­num’s show be­gins trav­el­ling as P.T. Bar­num’s Grand Trav­el­ling Amer­i­can Mu­seum.

1881: Bar­num part­ners with James A. Bai­ley and James L. Hutchin­son for P.T. Bar­num’s Great­est Show On Earth, And The Great Lon­don Cir­cus, Sanger’s Royal Bri­tish Menagerie and The Grand In­ter­na­tional Al­lied Shows United, later short­ened to the Bar­num & Lon­don Cir­cus.

1882: The Rin­gling Broth­ers — Alf, Al, Charles, John and Otto — per­form their first vaude­ville-style show in Ma­zomanie, Wis.

1884: The Rin­gling Broth­ers Cir­cus be­gins as a trav­el­ling per­for­mance.

1887: The tour­ing show be­comes the Rin­gling Bros. United Mon­ster Shows, Great Dou­ble Cir­cus, Royal Euro­pean Menagerie, Mu­seum, Car­a­van, and Congress of Trained Animals.

1895: The Rin­glings de­cide to branch out to New Eng­land, which was al­ready Bar­num’s ter­ri­tory. The two cir­cuses agreed to di­vide the U.S. rather than com­pete head to head.

1907: Af­ter the death of James Bai­ley, the Rin­glings buy Bar­num and Bai­ley. They keep the cir­cuses sep­a­rate. By the 1910s the Rin­gling Bros. Cir­cus had more than 1,000 em­ploy­ees, 335 horses, 26 ele­phants, 16 camels and other as­sorted animals that trav­elled on 92 rail­cars. The Bar­num and Bai­ley Cir­cus was roughly the same size.

1919: The two cir­cuses merge and be­come known as “Rin­gling Bros. and Bar­num & Bai­ley Com­bined Shows.”

1944: Fire breaks out at a July 6 per­for­mance in Hart­ford, Conn., killing an es­ti­mated 168 peo­ple and in­jur­ing hun­dreds, in­clud­ing many chil­dren.

1952: Para­mount Pic­tures re­leases The Great­est Show on Earth, star­ring Betty Hut­ton, Charl­ton He­ston, Jimmy Ste­wart and hun­dreds of the real cir­cus cast, crew and animals. It wins the Os­car for best pic­ture.

1967: Irvin Feld, a mu­sic and en­ter­tain­ment pro­moter, buys the Rin­gling cir­cus.

1999: Rin­gling names its first African-Amer­i­can ring­mas­ter, Johnathan Lee Iver­son.

2016: Feld En­ter­tain­ment an­nounces it will re­tire ele­phants from its cir­cus shows. In De­cem­ber, the cir­cus an­nounces its first fe­male ring­mas­ter, Kris­ten Michelle Wil­son.

2017: Feld En­ter­tain­ment an­nounces it will close the cir­cus.


An ele­phant walks out of a train car as young chil­dren watch in the Bronx rail­road yard in New York in 1963.

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