Posts Tagged ‘circus’

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Adele Purvis Onri, English-born American vaudeville and circus slack wire and globe walker and serpentine dancer

May 4, 2015

Adele Purvis Onri (1859/64-1948), English-born American vaudeville and circus slack wire and globe walker and serpentine dancer
(cabinet photo: Schloss, 54 West 23nd Street, New York, circa 1897)

FIRST APPEARANCE AND INSTANTANEOUS HIT OF
Adele Onri,
IN HER MARVELOUS, BEAUTIFUL AND MAGNIFICENT PRODUCTION AT
ELECTRIC PARK, BALTIMORE
,
Eclipsing everything of the kind ever see in this city. The talk of the town. Four thousand more people paid at the gates Friday night, July 17 [1896], that on the Glorious Fourth. A greater success and draw than the vitascope. The street car companies unable to supply cars enough to convey the thousands of people that flocked out to the park. The Casino not big enough to accommodate the crowd that came to see the beautiful and wondrous spectacle.
FIRST – QUEEN OF NIGHT, ascending and descending at will from the Revolving Globe; floating in space surrounded by brilliant colored light effects.
SECOND – THE LILY AND THE ROSE.
THIRD – QUEEN OF LIGHT
, performed on the electric illuminated revolving globe of 10,000 lights, changing color every instant, terminating with the grandest fire-effect ever invented.
FOURTH – SUNSET, with novel stereopticon effects; suddenly a fountain of water spurts up on the stage, and within its spray Miss Onri is seen to rise and fall, glowing with all the colors of the rainbow. The whole invented, made and produced by JOHN LE CLAIR, Original inventor of the Mirror Dance. This Grand Act can be done anywhere. For terms and open time, address
ADELE ONRI, Electric Park, Baltimore, Md.
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 25 July 1896, p. 337a)

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May 4, 2015

Adele Purvis Onri (1859/64-1948), English-born American vaudeville and circus slack wire and globe walker and serpentine dancer
(cabinet photo: Schloss, 54 West 23nd Street, New York, circa 1897)

FIRST APPEARANCE AND INSTANTANEOUS HIT OF
Adele Onri,
IN HER MARVELOUS, BEAUTIFUL AND MAGNIFICENT PRODUCTION AT
ELECTRIC PARK, BALTIMORE
,
Eclipsing everything of the kind ever see in this city. The talk of the town. Four thousand more people paid at the gates Friday night, July 17 [1896], that on the Glorious Fourth. A greater success and draw than the vitascope. The street car companies unable to supply cars enough to convey the thousands of people that flocked out to the park. The Casino not big enough to accommodate the crowd that came to see the beautiful and wondrous spectacle.
FIRST – QUEEN OF NIGHT, ascending and descending at will from the Revolving Globe; floating in space surrounded by brilliant colored light effects.
SECOND – THE LILY AND THE ROSE.
THIRD – QUEEN OF LIGHT
, performed on the electric illuminated revolving globe of 10,000 lights, changing color every instant, terminating with the grandest fire-effect ever invented.
FOURTH – SUNSET, with novel stereopticon effects; suddenly a fountain of water spurts up on the stage, and within its spray Miss Onri is seen to rise and fall, glowing with all the colors of the rainbow. The whole invented, made and produced by JOHN LE CLAIR, Original inventor of the Mirror Dance. This Grand Act can be done anywhere. For terms and open time, address
ADELE ONRI, Electric Park, Baltimore, Md.
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 25 July 1896, p. 337a)

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James Crockett the ‘Lion Conquerer,’ photographed at the time of his appearances in Paris, 1863

February 8, 2015

James Crockett (1831/32-1865), English lion tamer, billed in the early 1860s as the ‘Lion Conquerer’; identity of the clown unknown.
(photo, from a stereoscopic card: Alfred Cailliez, Paris, 1863)

James Crockett’s parents were James Crockett, an itinerant musician (later publican), and his wife Ann (née Cross) who, at 6 ft. 8 or 9 in. tall, was a noted sideshow giantess, said to have been from Nottingham but who, according to the 1851 Census (2 Halfmoon Passage, St. Bartholomew the Great, London) was born in the London area. They were married at St. Peter, Liverpool, on 6 February 1831, and their son’s birthday is said to have been 9 May. The year of his birth, which took place at Presteigne, Radnorshire, south Wales, is not certain, but may have been in either 1831 or 1832 although one authority suggests 1835. He had two younger sisters, Sarah Ann, born Doncaster, Yorkshire, 1838, and Elizabeth (Eliza) Ann, born Ripley, Surrey, 1843, who were both living at the time of his death from sunstroke on 6 July 1865 at Cincinnati, Ohio. He was buried there in Spring Grove Cemetery the following day.

* * * * *

Cirque Napoleon, Paris, March and April 1863
‘All the Parisians are flocking nightly to the Cirque to see the lion tamer Crockett, with his cage full of lions, whom he orders about as imperiously as Omphale ordered Hercules. Mr. Crockett issued a challenge to all comers, offering a wager 500£. that no one will enter the cage with him. The challenge has been accepted by one Herbert [from Brussels], a retired lion-tamer. Mr. Crockett will, of course, insist upon the stakes being deposited before the trial of strength, as M. Herbert may not be in a position to play after the experiment.’
(Reynolds’s Newspaper, London, Sunday, 15 March 1863, p. 8a)

‘THE DRAMA IN PARIS… PARIS, April 4 [1863]…
‘Immense crowds go to the Cirque nightly to witness the admirable management of the celebrated English lion tamer, called in the journals ”Sir Crockett, Esq.” He has obtained immortal glory by plunging his head into the lion’s mouth, a feat which has never been considered by the keepers of wild beasts as anything very extraordinary, as it is reported that such is the expansion of the mouth, and the position of the teeth, that no accident could occur. This is is a point no doubt for the naturalist to decide, but certain it is that the sight is one that afford infinite pleasure to the Parisian.’
(The Morning Post, London, Monday, 6 April 1863, p. 3c)

‘During the performances of Crockett, the lion tamer, at the Cirque Napoleon, Paris, some nights back, an incident occurred which caused some excitement among the spectators. Crockett, having made one of the largest lions lie down, had stepped on its back, but his foot slipped towards the neck. The lion, probably being hurt, gave a savage growl, and seized the foot with its teeth, all present expecting to see the animal crush it between its powerful jaws. Crockett, however, did not lose his presence of mind, but by a word and a blow with his whip he made the lion loose its hold. He then went on with his performance as usual.’
(The Huddersfield Chronicle and West Yorkshire Advertiser, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, Saturday, 11 April 1863, p. 3f)

* * * * *

‘Death of James Crockett, the Lion Tamer.
‘James Crockett, recently attached to Howe’s European Circus, and well known both in this country and Europe as a tamer of wild beasts, died yesterday afternoon, about four o’clock, in the dressing-room of the above-named circus, which was being exhibited at the time to an immense audience, that was waiting impatiently to witness his exploits with the animals under his management. Mr. Crockett enjoyed his usual health during the day, and had been driven through the streets in company with his lions, which fact, taken in connection with the excessive heat of the sun, seems to give the best and most rational clue to the solution of the mystery of his death. The deceased was a native of English, unmarried, and perhaps forty-five years of ate. At the time of his demise Mr. Crockett was costumed for the ring, and was able to appear before the audience. We believe that he was on his way from the dressing-room for this purpose, when he staggered, fell, and almost immediately expired. Coroner Carey held an inquest upon the body, but the verdict has not yet been made known. His loss to the establishment to which he was attached will be irreparable. – Cincinnati Gazette, July 7 [1865].
‘(Mr. James Crockett was a native of Preston, Lancashire [sic], where he was born May 9th, 1835, and where his father was employed as a musician in one of the noted circus companies of the day. The purchase by Messrs. Sanger of six lions gave young Crockett the opportunity he sought of displaying his daring, and the animals were soon under his complete control. About six years ago it will be remembered that Crockett and his lions ere engaged at Astley’s Amphitheatre, when a lamentable accident occurred, resulting in the death of a poor fellow named Smith, who was one of the attendants. The lions escaped from the den, but owing to the courage of Crockett, who entered the circus when the beats were roaming at will, further mischief was prevented. From Astley’s Mr. Crockett went to the Islington Agricultural Hall, and then to the Cirque Napoleon, Paris, and thence to the chief capitals of Europe, returning to England in 1863. He then formed an engagement to travel through America with Howe’s Mammoth Circus, and was thus pursing his daring career when hie death occurred at Cincinnati.)’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 30 July 1865, p. 10a)

‘The Late Lion-Tamer, James Crockett.
‘To the Editor of The Era.
‘Sir, – Perhaps it would be interesting to yourself and the public to know something authentic relative to the life of the much-lamented James Crockett, a young man who had earned for himself a world-wide reputation. He was one of the family of ”Old Travellers;” his grandfather figures largely at Bartholomew Fair with Richardson, Wombwell, Sanders, Clarke, and many others. His father married a Miss Cross, of Nottingham, whose height was six feet eight inches; she was not only tall, but stout, and had more than an ordinary share of beauty. This formed the chief magnet for an exhibition in a travelling caravan, Crockett’s father being the proprietor. They soon accumulated large sums of money. Becoming tired of travelling they entered into business as Licensed Victuallers. The son James, still having a desire for travelling, left home under the guardianship of |Messrs. John and George Sanger, with whom he used to play the cornet in the band connected with their exhibition. Shortly after which, complaining of the instrument affecting his constitution, he discontinued playing and took the office of equestrian director, and in the year 1857 commenced his occupation as trainer of lions, &c. He was a man possessing great nerve and determination. His birthplace was Prestyn [sic], Radnorshire, South Wales. Mr. Crockett was a man who must have possesses a moderate sum of money. Perhaps it would be as well for those who have possession of what did belong to him to remember that he was two young sisters living – one emigrated to Australia about two years since, and the other living near Nottingham – who are the only survivors of the family. – JOHN and GEORGE SANGERS [sic], Circus Proprietors.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 6 August 1865, p. 11d)

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February 8, 2015

James Crockett (1831/32-1865), English lion tamer, billed in the early 1860s as the ‘Lion Conquerer’; identity of the clown unknown.
(photo, from a stereoscopic card: Alfred Cailliez, Paris, 1863)

James Crockett’s parents were James Crockett, an itinerant musician (later publican), and his wife Ann (née Cross) who, at 6 ft. 8 or 9 in. tall, was a noted sideshow giantess, said to have been from Nottingham but who, according to the 1851 Census (2 Halfmoon Passage, St. Bartholomew the Great, London) was born in the London area. They were married at St. Peter, Liverpool, on 6 February 1831, and their son’s birthday is said to have been 9 May. The year of his birth, which took place at Presteigne, Radnorshire, south Wales, is not certain, but may have been in either 1831 or 1832 although one authority suggests 1835. He had two younger sisters, Sarah Ann, born Doncaster, Yorkshire, 1838, and Elizabeth (Eliza) Ann, born Ripley, Surrey, 1843, who were both living at the time of his death from sunstroke on 6 July 1865 at Cincinnati, Ohio. He was buried there in Spring Grove Cemetery the following day.

* * * * *

Cirque Napoleon, Paris, March and April 1863
‘All the Parisians are flocking nightly to the Cirque to see the lion tamer Crockett, with his cage full of lions, whom he orders about as imperiously as Omphale ordered Hercules. Mr. Crockett issued a challenge to all comers, offering a wager 500£. that no one will enter the cage with him. The challenge has been accepted by one Herbert [from Brussels], a retired lion-tamer. Mr. Crockett will, of course, insist upon the stakes being deposited before the trial of strength, as M. Herbert may not be in a position to play after the experiment.’
(Reynolds’s Newspaper, London, Sunday, 15 March 1863, p. 8a)

‘THE DRAMA IN PARIS… PARIS, April 4 [1863]…
‘Immense crowds go to the Cirque nightly to witness the admirable management of the celebrated English lion tamer, called in the journals “Sir Crockett, Esq.” He has obtained immortal glory by plunging his head into the lion’s mouth, a feat which has never been considered by the keepers of wild beasts as anything very extraordinary, as it is reported that such is the expansion of the mouth, and the position of the teeth, that no accident could occur. This is is a point no doubt for the naturalist to decide, but certain it is that the sight is one that afford infinite pleasure to the Parisian.’
(The Morning Post, London, Monday, 6 April 1863, p. 3c)

‘During the performances of Crockett, the lion tamer, at the Cirque Napoleon, Paris, some nights back, an incident occurred which caused some excitement among the spectators. Crockett, having made one of the largest lions lie down, had stepped on its back, but his foot slipped towards the neck. The lion, probably being hurt, gave a savage growl, and seized the foot with its teeth, all present expecting to see the animal crush it between its powerful jaws. Crockett, however, did not lose his presence of mind, but by a word and a blow with his whip he made the lion loose its hold. He then went on with his performance as usual.’
(The Huddersfield Chronicle and West Yorkshire Advertiser, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, Saturday, 11 April 1863, p. 3f)

* * * * *

‘Death of James Crockett, the Lion Tamer.
‘James Crockett, recently attached to Howe’s European Circus, and well known both in this country and Europe as a tamer of wild beasts, died yesterday afternoon, about four o’clock, in the dressing-room of the above-named circus, which was being exhibited at the time to an immense audience, that was waiting impatiently to witness his exploits with the animals under his management. Mr. Crockett enjoyed his usual health during the day, and had been driven through the streets in company with his lions, which fact, taken in connection with the excessive heat of the sun, seems to give the best and most rational clue to the solution of the mystery of his death. The deceased was a native of English, unmarried, and perhaps forty-five years of ate. At the time of his demise Mr. Crockett was costumed for the ring, and was able to appear before the audience. We believe that he was on his way from the dressing-room for this purpose, when he staggered, fell, and almost immediately expired. Coroner Carey held an inquest upon the body, but the verdict has not yet been made known. His loss to the establishment to which he was attached will be irreparable. – Cincinnati Gazette, July 7 [1865].
’(Mr. James Crockett was a native of Preston, Lancashire [sic], where he was born May 9th, 1835, and where his father was employed as a musician in one of the noted circus companies of the day. The purchase by Messrs. Sanger of six lions gave young Crockett the opportunity he sought of displaying his daring, and the animals were soon under his complete control. About six years ago it will be remembered that Crockett and his lions ere engaged at Astley’s Amphitheatre, when a lamentable accident occurred, resulting in the death of a poor fellow named Smith, who was one of the attendants. The lions escaped from the den, but owing to the courage of Crockett, who entered the circus when the beats were roaming at will, further mischief was prevented. From Astley’s Mr. Crockett went to the Islington Agricultural Hall, and then to the Cirque Napoleon, Paris, and thence to the chief capitals of Europe, returning to England in 1863. He then formed an engagement to travel through America with Howe’s Mammoth Circus, and was thus pursing his daring career when hie death occurred at Cincinnati.)’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 30 July 1865, p. 10a)

‘The Late Lion-Tamer, James Crockett.
‘To the Editor of The Era.
‘Sir, – Perhaps it would be interesting to yourself and the public to know something authentic relative to the life of the much-lamented James Crockett, a young man who had earned for himself a world-wide reputation. He was one of the family of “Old Travellers;” his grandfather figures largely at Bartholomew Fair with Richardson, Wombwell, Sanders, Clarke, and many others. His father married a Miss Cross, of Nottingham, whose height was six feet eight inches; she was not only tall, but stout, and had more than an ordinary share of beauty. This formed the chief magnet for an exhibition in a travelling caravan, Crockett’s father being the proprietor. They soon accumulated large sums of money. Becoming tired of travelling they entered into business as Licensed Victuallers. The son James, still having a desire for travelling, left home under the guardianship of |Messrs. John and George Sanger, with whom he used to play the cornet in the band connected with their exhibition. Shortly after which, complaining of the instrument affecting his constitution, he discontinued playing and took the office of equestrian director, and in the year 1857 commenced his occupation as trainer of lions, &c. He was a man possessing great nerve and determination. His birthplace was Prestyn [sic], Radnorshire, South Wales. Mr. Crockett was a man who must have possesses a moderate sum of money. Perhaps it would be as well for those who have possession of what did belong to him to remember that he was two young sisters living – one emigrated to Australia about two years since, and the other living near Nottingham – who are the only survivors of the family. – JOHN and GEORGE SANGERS [sic], Circus Proprietors.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 6 August 1865, p. 11d)

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Little Mollie Brown, ‘The only Female Somersault Rider in the World’

August 12, 2013

carte de visite photograph of Little Mollie Brown (fl. 1870s/1880s), American equestrienne, ‘The only Female Somersault Rider in the World
(photo: Watkins, San Francisco, circa 1874)

‘And Little Mollie Brown! … after her performance, she went around through the audience and sold her pictures …’
(Mrs Edith Fay Cartner, at the age of 82 in 1944 reminiscing about her visit when she was 11 to Montgomery Queen’s circus, Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California, 11 June 1944, editorial and features section, p. 1e)

‘THE BIG SHOW.
‘Montgomery Queen’s Great World’s Fair Coming to Oakland – Thursday and Friday next, Day and Evening.
‘The gigantic zoological and equestrian exhibition will be in Oakland this week, to perform on the afternoons and evenings of Thursday and Friday. The menagerie and circus is said to be one of the most extensive concerns traveling. We do not believe there is a man, woman or child in this city who has not read or heard of the great show. It is a newly organized, gorgeously equipped and most brilliant equestrian company, and spoken of by the press in the highest terms.
‘Little Mollie Brown, whose equal does not exist, is the only lady somersault rider in the world, and her acting is alone worth the price of admission. Then there are Leopold and Geraldine, the great trapeze artists; the two inimitable clowns, Nat Austin and Billy Burke; Romeo Sebastian, an old favorite although so young, the great Anglo-American somersault rider; Charles and Carrie Austin, the famous musket drill artists, and a full troupe of equestrians, acrobats, voltigeurs, gymnasts, etc.
‘The menagerie comprises a large collection of rare animals, among which are a genuine black-maned African lion, the largest ever captured; monster royal Bengal tigers, African lionesses, eland, genuine Barbary zebra, sacred cow and calf, Japanese swine, river hog, Peruvian Hama, Kangaroo, Bengal and Cheetah leopards, the largest elephant ever in California, panthers, hyenas, and many others of equal rarity.’ (Oakland Evening Tribune, Oakland, California, Tuesday, 25 August 1874, p. 3c)

‘Big Elephant Show.
‘Two circuses – two rings – two menageries – museum-aquarium, &c.- Sublime beyond parallel – The marvelous sensation of the age – All bareback riders.
‘The famous Grand Circus Royal English Menagerie, Astley Museum, &c. is to visit Fort Wayne, Thursday, June 2 [1881]. Their claim to superiority seems justified, judging from the very complimentary terms in which the press of the entire country speaks of them. Below will be at once seen the popularity of Miss Mollie Brown:
”’The charming Mollie Brown’s feats of somersaults, backward riding and pirouettes, are not only par excellence, but the inimitable perfection of grace.” – San Francisco Bulletin.
”’Nothing seems too daring for Miss Mollie to undertake, or too difficult for her to accomplish. She is, in all respects, a most remarkable phenomenon. In her arduous role she has no superior.” – San Francisco Call.
”’This lady displays the very poetry of motion; also possessing an attractive face and lovely form.” San Francisco Chronicle.
(Fort Wayne Daily Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 25 May 1881, p. 1d)

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an unidentified female circus or music hall act

May 23, 2013

an unidentified female circus or music hall act of the 1880s
(photo: F.C. Burnham, Brixton, London, 1880s)

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Ada Ibrahim

April 25, 2013

a cabinet photograph of Ada Ibrahim (fl. 1880s), wire walker
(photo: Maucourt, Rue Lafaurie de Montbadon, 40, Bordeaux, France, mid 1880s)

‘EASTHAM ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS.
‘NEW AND STARTLING NOVELTY.
‘see MDLLE. ADA IBRAHIM,
‘The most charming and graceful Artiste extant.
‘This Young Lady received a perfect ovation on Saturday.
‘Only a Limited Engagement. Don’t miss seeing her.
‘AMUSEMENTS ALL DAY LONG.’
(Liverpool Mercury, and Lancashire, Cheshire, and General Advertiser, Monday, 28 June 1886, p. 1c)

Eastham Gardens, Birkenhead, near Liverpool
‘Mdlle. Ada Ibrahim is at present fulfilling a highly successful engagement here. The lady’s movements on the the wire are executed with such gracefulness. The performances is extremely clever, and is undoubtedly a great ”draw.” The adroit gymnasts, Nestor and Aerian, are also here, and are meeting with deserved success.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 10 July 1886, p. 18c)

‘New and Startling Novelty.
‘MDLLE. ADA IBRAHIM, Wire Equilibriste, the most graceful and charming Artist extant, who has Performed at all the Principal Theatres and Circuses on the Continent.<br. ‘Liverpool courier, June 28th, 1886. – Amongst his various attractions Mr Thompson, the proprietor of the Eastham Gardens, has made a palpable hit by the engagement of Mdlle. Ada Ibrahim, a Parisienne artist of wonderful ability, whose original and graceful performance meets with the most hearty approbation from the numerous spectators who daily flock to those pretty gardens to gaze upon this new protégée of the public. Ignoring the business of Menotti, Wainratta, and other wire walkers, Mdlle. Ibrahim has chosen for herself a performances which is perfectly unique in character as it is daring in execution. Possessed of rare symmetry of figure, her movements on the wire are executed with the most unqualified gracefulness. There is no straining after effect, he attitudes are unstudied, and her manner has that nai:veté and abandon which makes her skilful performance a pleasure to all. On Saturday this talented young artiste met with quite an ovation from several thousand pleasure-seekers.’
‘The Quarry Floral Fête.
‘Local Papers, Shrewsbury. – Amongst the several great attractions of the floral fête Aug. 18th, 19th, at Shrewsbury, special mention is made of the wonderful and graceful performance of that distinguished artist Mdlle. Ada Ibrahim, especially engaged, and whose performance gave the greatest satisfaction to a numerous audience.
‘At Liberty for a few Weeks prior to fulfilling a lengthened Engagement at the London Pavilion.
‘For terms address, Parravicini, 49, Duke-street, London; or, Mdlle. IBRAHIM, Bromborough, Cheshire.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 28 August 1886, p. 18d)

London Pavilion
‘… Mdlle. Ida [sic] Ibrahim is a wire-walker who undresses ”up aloft,” after a fashion already introduced to frequenters of Music Halls. She first appears in male evening dress, and gets over certain difficulties in her déshabillement very adroitly. She is a graceful and dainty funambulist… .’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 9 October 1886, p. 10a)