Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mystery History -- Solved!

Julie wins with her 11:39 a.m. Tuesday guess "When the circus came to town...."

In the photo above, the tents are all set up in the Arroyo Seco for the Clyde Beatty and Russell Brothers' Combined Circus, which was in town for two days in May 1944.

Here's an excerpt from a Pasadena Star-News article published May 4, 1944:
Highlighting the two-hour, star-studded program is Clyde Beatty, world's foremost wild animal trainer, who appears in person at every performance with the world's largest group of performing jungle-bred lions and tigers.

Daring death twice daily...Beatty presents a startling and thrilling exhibition exemplifying man's dominance over the most savage, cruel, bloodthirsty and ferocious beasts of the jungle...

...Additional thrills are provided by the world-renowned Flying Concellos exemplifying the poetry of motion in the air in a sensational exhibition of aerial agility on the flying trapeze; Miss Estrelita, top-ranking exponent of thrilling heel and toe patches at dizzy heights; the Great Olveras, world's most astounding head balancing perch act; Mario, unrivaled and amazingly versatile genius of the tight wire, and scores of other aerial, arenic and trained animal exhibitions punctuated by the absurd antics of a comical contingent of clowns.
Here's a photo from the article:

Caption: Clyde Beatty, world's foremost wild animal trainer, who dares death twice daily in the Clyde Beatty and Russell Bros. Combined Circus battling 40 ferocious, blood-thirst, jungle-bred lions and tigers in a mammoth steel arena.

And a photo from a May 2, 1944, article:

Caption: An aerial ballet girl files the toenails of Big Margaret, one of the star pachyderm performers of the New Clyde Beatty and Russell Brothers Combined Circus coming to Pasadena Friday and Saturday of this week. According to attendants, the elephant really likes the treatment.

Circuses that feature "wild or exotic animals" are no longer allowed to set up shop in public rights of way per the Pasadena Municipal Code, which also outlaws rodeos in public areas. The amendment to Title 8 of the code was approved by the Pasadena City Council on Feb. 5, 2001.

Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library.


Jean Spitzer said...

Congratulations to Julie! This one is fascinating. My favorite photo is the woman and the elephant.

Mister Earl said...

Was that indeed down where the Rose Bowl is now? Does "public rights of way" mean nowhere in Pasadena? A would a circus be allowed in a building, if there was one? Is a tent on a lawn outside the Rose Bowl in a public right of way? Those Pasadena laws raise so many questions!

Bellis said...
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Petrea said...

I remember the circus in the Midwest from when I was very young. It had an exotic, frightening quality to it. Everything about it was strange to me.

I feel a bit of nostalgia for those lost, weird shows, but not much. Reading your post made me feel sorry for the animals. All those lights and the cracking of whips. Though maybe the animals weren't actually whipped. I hope it was all for show.

pasadenapio said...

Ron, public rights of way are public properties such as city-owned streets, parks, buildings, etc. For privately owned properties, the owners or event promoters are required to apply for a permit and take it from there.

Anonymous said...

How awesome is this...I won!!!!! I am so excited. Thank you Ann!

Irina Netchaev said...

Yeah! I was right also! Circus it is!!! :)

Happy Holidays to all!

Anthony Tusler said...

The overhead photo of the 1944 circus matches my memory of what the circus looked like in the mid 1950s when it was near the Rose Bowl. I was seven or eight and remember the freak show banners, and how hard it was to pay attention to everything going on in the three rings.