"Every crowd has a silver lining" - P. T. Barnum

"Every crowd has a silver lining" - P. T. Barnum
Wonderful quote, which I found on Johnny Pugh's Facebook Page -- a sparkling midway of some great Bill Carter photos, historic videos and mementos. The spirit of the old Cole soul comes alive!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Circus Metrosexual: Yes, Henry Edgar, How Right You Were About the GREAT Clyde Beatty...

When last we met, I’d taken us down to the Brownsville, TX area, not yet noting that both Kelly-Killer, for whom clowns Steve Coepland and Ryan Combs once clowned, and Circo Hermanos Vazques, for whom the two jesters now clown, are both uncorking new season with weeks of each other. Yes, both opening their rings across the same Texas terracotta. 

Very interesting, I’d say.  Cosmically intriguing.   Beyond this, what else from the House of Ringling?  We must wait and see if anything new in the forthcoming program surfaces. Seems that last season’s advance clown was signed to become John Ringling North’ II’s replacement clown alley.  By the way, what exactly does an advance clown do?  I could never figure that out; over there Across the Pond, clowns being so loathed in some quarters, I can’t imagine a funny face fronting any circus. An advance pig maybe.  Or tiger or Monster Truck, HoHo!  Don’t’ send out the clowns!

Onto metrosexual matters, roughly. if you will, referencing a trenchant piece in the Wall Street Journal about the genders blurring into One, resulting in men being squeezed, drilled, and hushed down into little walking wimps.  That’s summing it up broadly.  What struck me as a connection to this new emasculating trend is how big tops, some, have eased up on the fear factor. Turned in single traps for fabrics.  And are shunning what I might call, at the risk of house arrest, male athleticism.  Or simply athletic (okay, I hear you knocking, PC police; let me insult a little more and then you can take me away, okay?).

Clyde Beatty.  The late Henry  Edgar argued Beatty’s near-phenomenal popular fame in American culture.  I tended to agree; and now having read a fine and grabbing, terrifically illustrated Bandwagon piece by Dave Price, "Clyde Beatty in Hollywood," about the young and glamorous whip master's presence in a number of movies (maybe second rate but not all box office fizzles) and Saturday matinee serials, I am sure of the fact.  Clyde Beatty, by the time I cribbed out and could turn the radio dial myself, was a Big Name.  We looked for him in the newspaper, knowing that at any time, somewhere in a circus ring, of of his charge my part script a go ballistic.

Most famous American circus personality ever?  Beatty pulled in kids to the Saturday matinees, all ages to the main features.  He also held down a radio show. 

Most exciting act I ever sat through.  Make that chilling: First time I saw the great Clyde Beatty enter the steel cage.  Think the band played Bolero.  Oh, thank you Ravel for a great circus pulse!

Know what.  On this note of high drama, I’m about to take my leave.  Yes, as I last time hinted, the dots from Barnum that once connected to every circus now sometimes bypasses wimpy metrosexual big tops and go directly to TV to extreme sports.

Hold on!  I meant to theme this whole thing as a tour through Planet Circus, the magazine from Germany. That must come next, and therein lies a victorious  tie in to the circus of Clyde Beatty and his — pardon me — masculine kind.  

Five o’clock news about to come on.  All for now, kids.

[all Beatty photos from Bandwagon]


Harry Kingston said...

I remember the first time I ever saw the great Clyde Beatty in action in the steel arena.
It was action plus gun shooting, lions and tigers roaring and as a young kid I knew then I was seeing greatness in the center ring.
Mr. Beatty knew how to sell his act to the public and to me he was Mr. circus.
Yes the band did play Belaro as well as the big cage gallop.
Fast paced music for a fast act.
To me that is what is wrong with many cat acts today is very little showmanship.
Plus I am a die hard Clyde Beatty fan and his style of cat act.
The European style does nothing for me with all the kissy pie stuff.
It sure would have been something to have seen Mr. Beatty in a cage with 40 lions and tigers at one time. What a thrill it must have been.
Many people today do not know who Clyde Beatty is or was.
I am so lucky I got to see his act a few times and I will treasure my memories of it.
I have Mr. Beatty's, guns, pit helmet, cat chewed chair, autographs, and many pictures to remember him.
Gone but not forgotten by a few od us die hard circus fans.
Harry in Texas

Showbiz David said...

Hi Harry,

I had only vaguely known of his having been on the radio, but not of all those movies and serials he starred in!

Another thing in his favor, which comes clearly through in Ring of Fear: He had a very winning nice-guy personality.

Harry Kingston said...

I never head Beatty on the radio.
I wish a major studio had done all his films as the lost jungle was Mascot a poverty row studio and the big cage was Universal not on the top of the list studios.
Now Ring of Fear was something else was it was Warner
Bros my favorite studio but a Batjac production in Warner color and not Technicolor as it cost more to use.
When making Ring of Fear they were in Galveston, Texas for 3 days shooting in 3-D. I researched it in the local papers and had a parade etc. But all this footage was scraped as Cinemascope was the big thing then.
Yes Ring of Fear was a real credit to Mr. Beatty and yes all I heard about him he was one swell of a nice guy.
But he was not a good business person and I guess playing all the same area in California, the show closed. Then McClosky and Kernan got it and then it payed for itself when the finished the season.
As a kid and to see Mr. Beatty in action in that fighting cat act was a thrill of a life time.
And today when us die hard fans think of the circus the way it was, what name comes up first of all, Mr. circus in person the one the only the master of the steel arena Clyde Beatty.
Harry in Texas