Friday, January 15, 2010

The Morning Midway: Circus King Irving J. Polack From Out of the Past ...


Remember Polack Bros. Circus? The two men who produced it, Irving J. Polack and Louis Stern, were mid century American circus giants, re-introducing audiences to superlative one-ring entertainment.

They have been shockingly overlooked by most historians and writers. They were a major force leading up to the gradual evolution back to a single ring. I am continually amazed at how many historians who should know better, as well as some highly touted "experts" and fact checkers, seem not to have understood the part they played. Neither Polack nor Stern seem to have been honored within that dubious circle of paid-for recognition in Sarasota.

This is such a wonderful photo (circa, 1948), sent to me by a Polack family insider who wishes to remain discretely anonymous. I feel like I'm posting it on somebody else's banner line where great images from the past are raised daily. Mr. Polack is the gentleman standing in the back, fourth person from the right. Seated in front of him is his wife, Bessie. To Polack's right is Sam T. Polack, next to whom stands tall concession man, A. E. Howell.

Such a happy looking group of people. Possibly some of them helped infuse my boyhood with the magic and power of circus when the great Polack Bros. shows graced the Grace Pavilion at the fairgrounds in Santa Rosa during the remarkable fifties.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I remember the circus well-my mom's aunt-i guess my great aunt was Bessie [Oestereich] Polack. We would drive to see them in Albany which was the nearest to East Hartford,Ct., and visit them in Sarasota. I remember her being a very kind woman.

Anonymous said...

This guy is right. Bessie Nevin -Polack was my mothers aunt or my great aunt-she took over the circus after her husband died. I would go to it when i was a kid in the early 60's. She was a very kind woman.