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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Ringling logo.jpg
Origin
Circus name Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Country United States
Founder(s) The Ringling Brothers
Year founded 1907
Information
Traveling show? Yes
Website Offical Website
Advertisement for the Barnum & Bailey Circus, 1900

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is an American circus company. The company was started when the circus created by James Anthony Bailey and P. T. Barnum was merged with the Ringling Brothers Circus. The Ringling brothers purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1907, but ran the circuses separately until they were finally merged in 1919.

Contents

History

P.T. Barnum's Great Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome

In 1871, Dan Castello and William Cameron Coup persuaded Barnum to lend his name and financial backing to the circus they had already created in Delavan, Wisconsin. It was called "P.T. Barnum's Great Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome". The moniker "Greatest show on Earth" was added later.

Cooper and Bailey

James Anthony Bailey had teamed with James E. Cooper to create the Cooper and Bailey Circus in the 1860s. Bailey's circus was soon Barnum's chief competitor. He also exhibited "Columbia," the first baby elephant ever born in th United States.[citation needed]. She was born in March 1880 in Philadelphia, to "Babe" and "Mandarin". She was euthanized in November 1907 because of aggressiveness.

Cooper and Bailey merges with Barnum

Barnum wanted to buy the elephant, but Bailey turned him down. Instead of continuing as competitors, each man recognized the showmanship of the other, and decided to combine their shows in 1881. In 1882, the combined show enjoyed great success with acts such as Jumbo, advertised as the world's largest elephant. Barnum died in 1891 and Bailey then purchased the circus from his widow. He ran many successful tours through the eastern United States until he took his circus to Europe. Starting on December 27, 1897, he began a tour across the continent that lasted through 1902.

Bailey's European tour gave the Ringling brothers an opportunity to move their show from the Midwest through the eastern seaboard. Faced with the new competition, Bailey took his show west of the Rockies for the first time in 1905. He died the next year and the circus was sold to the Ringling Brothers a year later.

The Ringling brothers

Five of the seven Ringling brothers started a small circus in 1884, about the same time that Barnum & Bailey were at the peak of their popularity. Similar to dozens of small circuses that toured the Midwest and the Northeast at the time, the Ringlings moved their circus from town to town in small animal-drawn caravans. Their circus rapidly grew and they were soon able to move their circus by train, which allowed them to have the largest traveling amusement enterprise of that time.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus merger

The Ringlings purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1907 and ran the circuses separately until 1919. By that time, Charles Edward Ringling and John Nicholas Ringling were the only remaining Ringling brothers of the five who founded the circus. They decided that it was too difficult to run the two circuses independently, so on March 29, 1919, "Ringling Bros. and "Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows" debuted at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The posters declared, "The Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Shows and the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth are now combined into one record-breaking giant of all exhibitions." Charles Edward Ringling died in 1926. The circus was a success through the Roaring 20s.

American Circus Corporation

In 1929 the American Circus Corporation signed a contract to perform in New York's Madison Square Garden. John Nicholas Ringling purchased American Circus for $1.7 million. That absorbed five major shows: Sells-Floto Circus, Al G. Barnes Circus, Sparks Circus, Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, and John Robinson Circus.[1]

Frank Buck

Frank Buck, star attraction, 1938

In 1938, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus made Frank Buck a lucrative offer to tour as their star attraction and to enter the show astride an elephant. He refused to join the American Federation of Actors, stating that he was "a scientist, not an actor." Though there was a threat of a strike if he did not join the union, he maintained that he would not compromise his principles, saying, "Don't get me wrong. I'm with the working man. I worked like a dog once myself. And my heart is with the fellow who works. But I don't want some --- union delegate telling me when to get on and off an elephant."[2] Eventually, the union gave Buck a special dispensation to introduce Gargantua the gorilla without registering as an actor.

Decline

John Ringling North (right) and Frank Buck, who was the circus' featured attraction in 1938

The circus suffered during the 1930s because of the Great Depression, but managed to stay in business. John Nicholas Ringling's nephew, John Ringling North, managed the circus through these difficult times for several decades. Special dispensation was given to the circus by President Roosevelt to use the rails to operate in 1942, in spite of travel restrictions imposed as a result of World War II. A new marketing poster was also released that year which depicted a circus tiger threatening the viewer of the poster.

The Hartford Circus Fire

The Hartford Circus Fire, occurred on July 6, 1944, in Hartford, Connecticut, and was one of the worst fire disasters in the history of the United States. The fire occurred during an afternoon performance of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus that was attended by approximately 7,500 to 8,700 people. Emmett Kelly, the tramp clown, threw a bucket of water at the burning canvas tent in a futile effort to put the fire out.[citation needed]

More than 100 people were killed. The great irony of the fire was that the performance took place under canvas. Had the crowd realized it, safety was no farther away than ducking out under the sidewalls of the tent. Some of the dead remain unidentified to this day, even with modern DNA techniques.

One fact that came out in the investigation into the tragedy was that the tent had not been fireproofed. Ringling Bros.' had applied to the Army, which had an absolute priority on the material, for enough fireproofing liquid to treat their Big Top. The Army had refused to release it to them.[citation needed] The circus' management was found to be negligent and several Ringling executives served sentences in jail in connection with the Hartford Circus Fire.

Many claims were brought against The Greatest Show on Earth in connection with the fire. Ringling Bros.' set aside all their profits for the next ten years to pay off these claims and paid off every claim in full.[citation needed]

Continued decline

The post-war prosperity enjoyed by the rest of the nation was not shared by the circus as crowds dwindled and costs increased. Public tastes, influenced by the movies and television, abandoned the circus which gave its last performance under the big top in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 16, 1956. An article in LIFE magazine said that "a magical era had passed forever".[1]

Feld family

Irvin Feld and his brother Israel Feld had already made a name for themselves producing touring rock 'n roll shows. In 1957, John Ringling North and Arthur Concello moved the circus from a tent show to an indoor operation, Irvin Feld was one of several promoters hired to work the advance for select dates, most in the Detroit and Philadelphia areas.

In the fall of 1967, Irving Feld, his brother Israel Feld, and Judge Roy Mark Hofheinz of Texas, together with backing from Richard C. Blum the founder of Blum Capital, bought the company outright from North and the Ringling family interests for $8 million.[3][4]

He immediately began making other changes to improve the quality and profitability of the show. In 1968, realizing there were only 14 professional clowns remaining in the show — and that many of them were in their 50s — he established the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.

The next year, he split the show into two touring units, a "Red Tour" and a "Blue Tour" which could tour the country independently. They could also offer differing slates of acts and show themes, enabling circus-goers to view both tours where possible.

In 1970, Feld's only son, Kenneth, joined the company and became a co-producer of the shows. The circus was sold to the Mattel company in 1971 for $40 million, but the Feld family retained production control. They bought it back in 1982. Irvin Feld died in 1984 and the company has since been run by Kenneth.

Clair George has testified in court that he worked as a consultant in the early 1990s for Kenneth Feld and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus where he was involved in the surveillance of Jan Pottker (a journalist who was writing about the Feld family) and of various animal rights groups such as PETA.[5]

In 1996, Feld Entertainment was created as the parent company of the circus, as well as a skating-themed sister show, Disney on Ice. The company also produces several large-scale Broadway and Las Vegas productions.

Names

The circus went under various names as new investors joined

  • P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome; P. T. Barnum, William Cameron Coup and Dan Castello, proprietors (1871)
  • P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling World's Fair; The Greatest Shows On Earth; P. T. Barnum, William Cameron Coup, Dan Castello and S. H. Hurd, proprietors
  • P. T. Barnum's Great Roman Hippodrome; P. T. Barnum, William Cameron Coup, Dan Castello and S. H. Hurd, proprietors
  • P. T. Barnum's Greatest Show On Earth; P. T. Barnum, John J. Nathans, George F. Bailey and Lewis June, proprietors (and Avery Smith for part of 1876 only)
  • Barnum & Bailey Circus; James Anthony Bailey (1891)
  • Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

Circus trains

Circus train on CSX rails departing St. Petersburg, Florida
Circus train rolling through Safety Harbor, Florida
Car RBBX 41307 after refurbishment, Tampa, Florida

Currently, the circus maintains two circus train-based shows, the Blue Tour and the Red Tour, as well as the truck-based Gold Tour. Each train is a mile long with roughly 60 cars: 40 passenger cars and 20 freight.[6] The Blue and Red Tours present a full three-ring production for two years each (taking the month of December off), visiting alternating major cities each year. Each train presents a different "edition" of the show, using a numbering scheme that dates back to circus origins in 1871—the first year of P.T. Barnum's show. The Blue Tour presents the even-numbered editions on a two-year tour (beginning each even-numbered year), and the Red Tour presents the odd-numbered editions on the same two-year tour (beginning each odd-numbered year). The Gold Tour presents a scaled-back, single-ring version of the show, designed to serve smaller markets deemed incapable of supporting the three-ring versions.

The 2009 139th edition Red Tour is entitled "Zing, Zang, Zoom." It features illusions including a disappearing elephant. However, the Red Tour will no longer feature Bello Nock. Although both are credited for production of the show, the Red Tour is mainly under the control of Kenneth Feld while his daughter Nicole controls the Blue Tour.[citation needed]

Animal care

The circus claims that the utmost care is given to the animals' health and welfare. The circus believes that promoting human-animal interaction is vital to increasing public awareness of the need to protect and preserve animal species. They state "Captive animals play an important role as Ambassadors – teaching people about the animals’ needs and challenges and about our responsibility to ensure their future survival." Circus owner Feld Entertainment states that they meet all requirements for zoos and circuses for animal welfare[7], however routine US Department of Agriculture Inspection Reports indicate numerous instances of non-compliance with the Animal Welfare Act including inappropriate housing, poor sanitation, animal escapes, inaccurate record keeping, failure to properly protect the public from wild animals, causing physical harm and behavioral stress to animals, and other non-compliant items.[8]

In 1995, the circus opened the Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida for the breeding, research, and retirement of its Asian Elephant herd. [9] All dogs in the shows are from animal shelters or rescued from poor living conditions. [10] The circus participates in breeding programs for endangered species used in the shows including the Bengal tiger and elephant. The tiger population is retired to Big Cat Rescue.[11]

Many animal welfare and animal rights organizations, such as PETA, are opposed to the use of wild animals in circuses. The animal rights groups also oppose the use of domestic animals, such as horses or dogs, in circuses. Many of these groups actively campaign against circuses by staging protests to increase awareness of animal rights' violations and to urge circus-goers to boycott Ringling and other circuses and to patronize only animal-free circuses. The groups assert that animals used in the circus are subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment during training, harsh conditions during transport, and a general lack of mental and physical stimulation.[12] In July, 2009, PETA released video footage allegedly depicting Ringling employees striking elephants on the head, face, ears, trunk and legs with bullhooks. Based on its investigation, the organization has filed a complaint with the USDA.[13]


Several animal rights groups have filed a lawsuit against Ringling Brothers claiming that the circus’s treatment of elephants violates the US Endangered Species Act. In testimony in U.S. District Court, CEO Kenneth Feld acknowledged that elephants are struck behind the ears, under the chin and on their legs with metal tipped prods, called bull hooks. Feld stated that these practices are necessary to protect circus workers. Feld also acknowledged that an elephant trainer was reprimanded for using an electric shock device, known as a hot shot or electric prod, on an elephant, which Feld also stated was appropriate practice. Feld denied that any of these practices harm elephants.[14]

Ringling Brothers circus was investigated following the death of a lion who died from heat and lack of water while the circus train was travelling through the desert.[15] In 1998, the USDA filed charges against Ringling Brothers for forcing a sick elephant to perform.[16] Ringling paid a $20,000 fine to settle the matter.[17] The USDA also investigated the death of Benjamin, a four-year-old Asian elephant who drowned in a pond in Texas.

Elephant calf, immobilized with limbs hyperextended as part of its training

Additional animal care concerns were raised by PETA in December 2009 when the organization published still photographs of elephants being trained alleged to have been taken at Ringling’s Center for Elephant Conservation by a former Ringling employee, now deceased. The images depict baby elephants, sometimes tied or with foot weights, interacting with trainers who hold bull hooks and electroshock devices. Ringling acknowledged that the images were taken at its facility but stated that the training methods depicted acceptable methods of professional elephant-training.[18]

Timeline

A scene from "Over The Top"
The Torres family performing in "Over The Top"

Ringmasters

Year Edition Unit Ringmaster
1871–1878 1st-8th P.T. Barnum Dan Castello
1879–1881 9th-11th P.T. Barnum James Cook
1882–1883 12th-13th Barnum & London R. H. Dockrill
1884–1989 14th-19th Barnum & London R. H. Dockrill
Ringling Bros. Al Ringling
1890–1891 20th-21st Barnum & Bailey William Ducrow
Ringling Bros. Al Ringling
1892–1894 22nd-24th Barnum & Bailey R. H. Dockrill
Ringling Bros. Al Ringling
1895 25th Barnum & Bailey John O'Brien
Ringling Bros. Al Ringling
1896–1902 26th-32nd Barnum & Bailey William Ducrow
Ringling Bros. Al Ringling
1903–1904 33rd-34th Barnum & Bailey Frank Melville
Ringling Bros. Al Ringling
1905 35th Barnum & Bailey R. H. Dockrill
Ringling Bros. Al Ringling
1906 36th Barnum & Bailey William Ducrow
Ringling Bros. Al Ringling
1907 [1] 37th Barnum & Bailey William Ducrow
Ringling Bros. Al Ringling
1908 38th Barnum & Bailey Edward Shipp
Ringling Bros. Al Ringling
1909 39th Barnum & Bailey Edward Shipp
Ringling Bros. Al Ringling
1910 40th Barnum & Bailey Edward Shipp
Ringling Bros. William Gorman
1911 41st Barnum & Bailey William Gorman
Ringling Bros. Al Ringling
1912 42nd Barnum & Bailey William Gorman
Ringling Bros. Al Ringling
1913–1915 43rd-45th Barnum & Bailey Fred Bradna
Ringling Bros. Al Ringling
1916–1918 46th-48th Barnum & Bailey Fred Bradna
Ringling Bros. John Agee
1919[2]-1946 49th-76th   Fred Bradna
1947–1948 77th-78th   Arthur Springer
1949 79th   Harry Thomas
1950 80th   David Murphy
1951–1955 81st-85th   Count Nicholas
1956 86th   Preston Lambert
1957 87th   Harold Ronk
1958 88th   Don Forbes
1959 89th   George Michel
1960–1968 90th-98th   Harold Ronk
1969[3]-1972 98th-102nd Blue Harold Ronk
Red Bob Welz
1973 102nd Blue Tim Holst
103rd Red Bob Welz
1974 104th Blue Harold Ronk
103rd Red Tim Holst
1975 104th Blue Harold Ronk
105th Red Tim Holst
1976 106th Blue Harold Ronk
105th Red Tim Holst
1977 106th Blue Bill Witter
107th Red Kit Haskett
1978 108th Blue Harold Ronk
107th Red Kit Haskett
1979 108th Blue Harold Ronk
109th Red Kit Haskett
1980 110th Blue Harold Ronk
109th Red Kit Haskett
1981 110th Blue Lawrence Kelly
111th Red Kit Haskett
1982 112th Blue Dinny McGuire
111th Red Kit Haskett
1983–1985 112th-115th Blue Jim Ragona
Red Dinny McGuire
1986 116th Blue Jim Ragona
115th Red Kristopher Antekeier
1987 116th Blue Jim Ragona
117th Red Kristopher Antekeier
1988–1994 118th-124th Blue Jim Ragona
Red Eric Michael Gillett
1995–1997 124th-127th Blue Dinny McGuire
Red Eric Michael Gillett
1998 128th Blue Jim Ragona

First Latin Ring Master Spanish Shows Roberto Miquel

127th Red Robert Tully

Roberto Miquel

1999 128th Blue Jim Ragona/David Alan Marshall

Roberto Miquel

129th Red Johnathan Lee Iverson

Roberto MIquel

2000 130th Blue Michael James McGowan

Roberto Miquel

129th Red Johnathan Lee Iverson

Roberto Miquel

2001 130th Blue Kevin Venardos

Roberto Miquel

131st Red Johnathan Lee Iverson

Roberto Miquel

2002 132nd Blue Kevin Venardos

Roberto Miquel

131st Red Johnathan Lee Iverson

Roberto Miquel

2003 132nd Blue Kevin Venardos

Roberto Miquel

133rd Red Johnathan Lee Iverson

Roberto Miquel

2004 134th Blue Kevin Venardos
133rd Red Johnathan Lee Iverson

Roberto Miquel

2005 134th Blue Kevin Venardos
135th Red Tyron McFarlan
2006 136th Blue Chuck Wagner
135th Red Tyron McFarlan
2007 136th Blue Chuck Wagner
137th Red Tyron McFarlan
2008 138th Blue Chuck Wagner
137th Red Tyron McFarlan
2009 138th Blue Chuck Wagner
139th Red Alex Ramon
2010 140th Blue Johnathan Lee Iverson
139th Red Alex Ramon

See also

Barnum & Bailey greatest show on Earth poster

External links

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Bailey and the Ringlings". Feld Entertainment. http://www.ringling.com/explore/history/bailey_2.aspx. Retrieved 2008-07-21. "In 1929, reacting to the fact that his competitor, the American Circus Corporation, had signed a contract to perform in New York's Madison Square Garden, Ringling purchased American Circus for $1.7-million. In one fell swoop, Ringling had absorbed five major shows: Sells-Floto, Al G. Barnes, Sparks, Hagenbeck-Wallace, and John Robinson. ... On July 16, 1956, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the financially troubled Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey gave its last performance under the big top. John Ringling North commented that "the tented circus as it exists today is, in my opinion, a thing of the past." LIFE magazine wrote that "a magical era had passed forever." ... John Ringling North, an executor of his uncle's estate, became president of the show in 1937, a position he held until 1943 when his cousin, Robert, became president. John took the position once again in 1947." 
  2. ^ Lehrer, Steven (2006). Bring 'Em Back Alive: The Best of Frank Buck. Texas Tech University press. pp. x-xi. ISBN 0896725820. http://books.google.com/books?id=UNnhbq9gwTUC. 
  3. ^ a b "Feuer and Martin Suing Felds Over Circus Sale. 2 Producers Seek to Cancel $10-Million Deal for the Ringling Brothers Show. Felds Have No Comment. Format to Remain. Prediction of a Record Year Circus Started in 1871.". New York Times. December 5, 1967. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20914FA3B5C117B93C7A91789D95F438685F9. Retrieved 2008-07-20. "Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin, Broadway producers, brought suit in New York State Supreme Court yesterday to cancel the sale of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus to Irvin and Israel Feld and Roy M. Hofheinz." 
  4. ^ Richard Blum: The man behind URS, next to Sen. Feinstein San Francisco Chronicle, 2003
  5. ^ "The Greatest Vendetta on Earth". Salon.com. August 30, 2001. http://archive.salon.com/news/feature/2001/08/30/circus/index.html. Retrieved 2008-07-22. "Over lunch, Smith recounted a campaign of surveillance and dirty tricks Feld had unleashed on her in the wake of her 1990 magazine piece in the now-defunct Regardie's magazine. Feld, he said, had hired people to manipulate her whole life over the past eight years. Feld had spent a lot of money on it, he said. He may have even tried to destroy her marriage. In fact, Pottker would eventually learn of a massive dirty tricks operation, involving former CIA officials and operatives, that would target Ringling enemies such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other groups, not just Pottker." 
  6. ^ http://www.ringling.com/explore/backstage/town_w_zip.aspx The town without a zipcode
  7. ^ "FAQs". Feld Entertainment. http://www.feldentertainment.com/pr/aca/FAQ1.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  8. ^ United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, pdf file posted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus USDA Inspection Reports from December 14, 1993 to March 12, 2009". http://www.circuses.org/pdfs/RBBB-NCI-factsheet.pdf. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  9. ^ "About the Center for Elephant Conservation". http://www.elephantcenter.com/about.aspx. Retrieved 2007-08-11. "A lifelong symbol of The Greatest Show on Earth, the Asian elephant is a respected and revered member of the Ringling Bros. family. In the interest of the species’ present and future well-being, the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation was established in 1995. Located in central Florida, this 200-acre, $5-million, state-of-the-art facility is dedicated to the conservation, breeding and understanding of these amazing animals." 
  10. ^ 135th Edition Souvenir Program. Feld Entertainment. 2005. pp. 32. 
  11. ^ "Welcome to Big Cat Rescue". Big Cat Rescue. http://www.bigcatrescue.org/. Retrieved 2009-01-30. "Big Cat Rescue, a non profit educational sanctuary, is devoted to rescuing and providing a permanent home for exotic (i.e. wild, not domestic) cats who have been abused, abandoned, bred to be pets, retired from performing acts, or saved from being slaughtered for fur coats, and to educating the public about these animals and the issues facing them in captivity and in the wild." 
  12. ^ Circuses.com
  13. ^ "Undercover Investigation Reveals That Ringling Beats Elephants". PETA. http://www.peta.org/mc/NewsItem.asp?id=13339. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  14. ^ "Circus CEO Says Elephants Are Struck, but Not Hurt". March 3, 2009. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=7001750. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  15. ^ Washington Post - Marc Kaufman (August 8, 2004). "USDA Investigates Death of Circus Lion Activists Dispute Account Given by Ringling Brothers". http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A48042-2004Aug7.html. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  16. ^ Associated Press (1998). "Death of Elephant Questioned". http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1998/04/22/breeds/main7794.shtml. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  17. ^ "Circus elephants in the legal spotlight". May 20, 2009. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/30809719/page/2/. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  18. ^ "PETA, Ringling Bros. at odds over the treatment of baby circus elephants". December 16, 2009. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/15/AR2009121504988.html. Retrieved 2009-12-23. 
  19. ^ "The Great Showman Dead. Last Hours Of The Life Of Phineas T. Barnum. The Veteran Manager Sinks Into A Peaceful Sleep That Knows No Waking. The Funeral To Be Private At His Express Desire.". New York Times. April 8, 1891, Wednesday. "Bridgeport, Connecticut, April 7, 1891. At 6:22 o'clock to-night the long sickness of P.T. Barnum came to an end by his quietly passing away at Marina, his residence in this city." 
  20. ^ "A Cesar Among Showmen. James A. Bailey, The Partner And Successor Of Barnum. He Is The Creator Of The Modern Circus. His Tremendous Energy And Working Ability. How He Became What He Is.". New York Times. April 19, 1891. "One of the most modest little men that ever lived has been forced to the front by the death of P.T. Barnum. James Anthony Bailey for ten years has been Mr. Barnum's partner. He can, without exaggeration, be called the creator of the modern circus. He has lifted the circus to a standard that renders almost ridiculous the laws that once were so necessary for its regulation." 
  21. ^ "James A. Bailey, King Of Circus Men, is Dead. News Kept From Performers Till The Show Was Over. Widow Gets Circus Stock. Showman Died Of Erysipelas At His Country Home Near Mount Vernon After A Week's Illness.". New York Times. April 12, 1906. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=950DEEDC113EE733A25751C1A9629C946797D6CF. Retrieved 2007-07-21. "While the band blared and the clowns made fun and the elephants walked around at the circus last night for the thousands in Madison Square Garden, there were few among the spectators who knew that James A. Bailey, the backbone of the "greatest show on earth," lay dead in his home, The Knolls, near Mount Vernon." 
  22. ^ a b c d "Died.". Time (magazine). June 17, 1985. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,959229,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-20. "John Ringling North, 81, flamboyant, fast-talking showman who from 1937 to 1943 and from 1947 to 1967 ran "The Greatest Show on Earth," the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, started by his five uncles in 1884; of a stroke; in Brussels. North took over the debt-spangled show after the death of his last uncle, John Ringling, and modernized it with such attractions as Gargantua the Great, the "vehemently vicious" 550-lb. gorilla that drew more than 40 million circusgoers. In 1956, North folded the big top and reincarnated the show for new arenas of the air-conditioned era." 
  23. ^ "Feld Family Buys Ringling Bros". Associated Press in New York Times. March 19, 1982. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D00E0DD1639F93AA25750C0A964948260. Retrieved 2008-07-20. "Mattel Inc. said that it had sold Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows Inc. for $22.8 million to a family that had owned the circus and has been in its management for 26 years. Two members of the family, Irvin Feld and his son, Kenneth, said that the deal included the circus, Ice Follies, Holiday on Ice and the new Walt Disney's World on Ice. The transaction also includes a Las Vegas nightclub act called Beyond Belief. The acquisition involves more than 1,200 performers and employees, 500 circus animals and 98 railroad cars. Irvin Feld was a record and music promoter and music store chain owner before becoming involved with the circus in 1956. In 1967, he and a brother acquired the company's total assets from the Ringling and North families for $8 million. Two years later, the circus became a publicly held corporation, and in 1971 the company was sold to Mattel for $50 million in stock." 

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