The circus by its very nature is a transient business, and the people who work in it are also transient. People run away to join the circus, but they don’t always stay. Over the two-hundred year span of the American circus, thousands of people have been associated with it: owners and performers as well as workers (roustabouts), publicity crews, and teamsters all required to move, set-up, run, and sell a circus. The performers and owners are in the public eye, but it takes carefully coordinated effort from hundreds of people to make a circus successful.
Many names stand out in circus history as being great performers in the air, on the ground, or with animals: May Worth, Zazel, Loyal Respinskis, The Hanneford family, Ella and Fred Bradna, Katie Sandwina, Issac A. Van Amburgh, Lillian Lietzel, and Alfredo Codona brought delights and thrills to audiences all over the country. Great owners such as the Ringling Bros., P. T. Barnum, William Cameron Coup, Samuel Gumpertz, Seth B. Howes, and Clyde Beatty organized, funded, cast, managed, directed, produced, and otherwise brought into being the spectacle and glitter of the American circus.
Through our research we have selected several hundred performers, owners, and workers in American circuses and made them accessible in our database. Below are listed, in alphabetical order the names of those individuals. Click a name to view a brief description, or alternative names and role in which they played in the circus. Links will be provided to additional information within the database, including images and a historical timeline.
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Le Maire, Charles
Lent, L. B.
Lillie, Gordon W. "Pawnee Bill"