Mickey Rooney, who just left us, got his first starring gig in a circus ring, did you know? You now do. Twas in a 1927 silent film, Mickey's Circus, recently discovered along with a slew of other long-missing silents. San Francisco based National Preservation Film Foundation, partnering with EYE Film Museum of Amsterdam, planning to bring the films back onto screens. No doubt filmed in Los Angeles, I look as always for authentic background set pieces, thinking parts of the old Al. G. Barnes Circus, which spent winters in movie-land, may show ... Mikey was just six years old at the time when he was signed to play the ringmaster of a kid's circus. For a period,this pint-sized dynamo was the highest paid and/or most popular film star.
Waiting for Kelly Miller to produce the mysterious Ethiopian bounce juggler, Abrham Gebre pitched my way by James Royal favoring me (a veiled tease, it felt) with info on new acts, some time back: "... has appeared with Mother Africa, European shows, and dd the winter season for Cirkus Scott in Sweden." Now, that's a pretty impressive venue record. The Kelly Miller website, under "2014 show," still lists last years acts. Evidently, Steve and Ryan are still on the show. Go figure, somebody. If there is anything John Ringling North II is without a doubt weak on, it is marketing, advertising, PR. Some simply call it "the front end."
Big Apple Circus's apparently winning ringmaster, John Kennedy Kane, a shuffling off to Buffalo native, said to be in talks to extend his contract by another season, which would keep him aboard through the 2016 tour. I wonder if he is that good. I hope. Says he, to the Patriot Ledger up Boston way, on the tenuous subject of themes and story lines, "Sometimes I don't think you need the theme. These are the best circus acts from around the world ... the Academy Award winners of circus acts." That's not a spin, either. Wonder if the Ethiopian bounce juggler is pitting Big Apple against Kelly Miller?
End ringers: Did you know there is a circus out there called Ramos Bros?. They've got what sounds like a perky little troupe, family acts and a "very funny dog" who performers with its master, Colombian clown Pollo Ronco ... The fading, chipped, and all-to-often ignored plaques at Sarasota's Circle of Fame (and Infamy) to be restored to "their pristine original condition," thanks to a delicious $100,000 donation by Herta Klausner of the famed bear family troupe (they charmed me as a kid). The Circle is curiously unknown to many locals there, well, to the bus driver who once drove me in that direction, never having heard of the place! ...